Can I be the first to wish you: A Very Happy New Year

Written by Jonathan Pagden

November 11, 2023


As I write, the November events ‘rush’ is in full swing.

On the telly the big retailers have unveiled their seasonal commercials to encourage us all to spend even more this year, and frankly I’m sick of Christmas already.

So I’m looking past it to the first couple of months of 2024, and what it might hold for someone like me whose job is to add glitz, authority and control – all at the same time – to a corporate event.

Most of what I do is awards, but naturally enough there aren’t very many of those in January when everybody’s dreading ‘Blue Monday’. So what’s an employer to do with a (metaphorically, but in some cases literally) hungover workforce?

Welcome to Kick-Off season.

Yes, the new year is when the staff gather together for their own internal conference to hear the bosses say “Carry on everybody, you’re all doing very well” and to be urged to bigger and brighter things in 2024.

The big corporate hotels sell every single room to the same client, the workforce brace themselves for a day or sometimes three or four of ‘inspirational’ messages, and the board get to indulge their fantasies of being on stage and imitating their favourite chat show host or guest.

Event planners, you probably have at least one of these on the drawing board.

Now, I’m not being cynical about Kick-Off meetings (much), just pointing out how very easy it is for something like this to be unoriginal, self-indulgent and just a little bit unmemorable.

Let me share a memory. In Kick-Off season 2020 I spent a few days in Madrid being the sole linking voice for a European software company’s Kick-Off.

Instead of a management person or rented ‘celebrity’ on stage introducing sessions and doing housekeeping, I did all that.

It worked, for several reasons –

it cleared the stage between presentations for resetting of chairs etc.
it gave the presenters someone to talk back to or bounce off if they needed it.
it was dynamic and adaptable (I was sitting next to the showcaller, and at least once was passed a post-it note with something to say, while I was actually talking. Try doing that to someone on stage).
Crucially – it wasn’t the same as the previous year.

Plus, in some indefinable way being unseen put me on the side of the audience, and meant I could tread the tightrope of ‘Authoritative But Friendly’ and achieve both.

It worked very well – but that was in February 2020, and we all know what happened shortly after that…

So now I’m trying to revive the idea. If you have a Kick-Off in the pipeline, I’d be delighted to talk to you in detail about the difference having a Voice Presenter can make to your event.

Get in touch here