A Word of Encouragement

We all need encouragement.  Retreats often provide a great opportunity for spiritual renewal and foster an environment for encouragement.  Not every event lends itself to set times for encouragement, but if yours does, consider incorporating an activity that allows participants to encourage and be encouraged.Thank YouHere are a few ideas for encouragement activities you can do at your next retreat:

  1. A Pat on the Back:  Tape a piece of paper on each participant’s back.  Have all the participants write an encouraging word describing that person on the paper with a marker.  When everyone has written on each person’s back, they can take the paper off and spend a few moments reading what others wrote.  (Note:  this activity requires a little bit of space and light activity as participants walk around to write on each back.)
  2. Snapshot of Encouragement:  This activity is similar to the one described above with a few twists.   One-by-one, have each participant sit with his/her back to a dry-erase board.  The other participants write a word describing that person on the board.  When everyone has finished, take a photo of the person sitting in front of the dry-erase board and then erase it.  After the retreat, print and mail or email these pictures to each participant.  (Note:  this activity takes a bit longer since each person goes one-by-one.  You may need to divide your group into smaller numbers depending on your size.)
  3. Secret Messages:  Before your retreat, write each participant’s name on a manila envelope.  Hang these on a wall or bulletin board in a common area.  Throughout your event, have participants write encouraging notes to each other on provided slips of paper, and place each of these notes in the corresponding envelopes.  At the end of your retreat, give each participant his/her envelope.  (Note:  Announce this activity at the opening of your retreat so the participants will have ample time to write notes.  Encourage each participant to write a note for everyone attending.)

These are just a few encouragement activities you can try at your next retreat.  While these are designed for smaller events, you can adjust how these are implemented to accommodate larger groups.  The easiest way to do this is to divide your group into smaller numbers.  As an added bonus, these activities provide a tangible take-home for participants to remember the retreat.  Make sure to include yourself (as the event planner) in this activity too!  Even you can use a word of encouragement, especially in the hustle and bustle of your retreat.

Instagram: Creating a Visual Impression of Your Event

According to Digital Marketing Ramblings, Instagram has 75 million active users . . .  per day.  It’s a social media network that is booming, and continuing to grow.

Instagram is also a great spot to create a visual impression of your event and share it with the world.  We’ve talked in a previous post about streaming an Instagram feed at your event, (read that here) so I won’t go into detail about that aspect.

instagramToday we’re going to discuss creating a visual impression before and during your event on Instagram.

Take beautiful photos of your event location and preparation. Try getting down on the ground, or way up high, to give a unique/unusual perspective. Vary your photo posts, post a close-up of a unique architectural element of the event local, then a photo of a musician setting up, then a wide shot of an arresting landscape.  You get the idea. Make it interesting and unique.

Always accompany your post with your event hash tag. That way people will be able to follow and hopefully remember the hash tag to use with they post pictures of the event.

Repost photos from artists, speakers, or other event persona’s that are related to your upcoming or in-process event. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see a photo posted by your favorite artist on the tour bus, en-route to the event? You should be following the Instagram streams of people related to the event.

Make during event photos interesting and limited access.  Hopefully your event attendees will be Instagram-ing event photos once the event is underway, and you’ll be following the hash tag you set up and re-posting their best photos. Now you should focus on what most attendees don’t have access to- it will make your photos more interesting and desirable. Go backstage, see what’s happening earllllly in the morning while everyone is still asleep, or catch a late night jam session at midnight. Post those limited access photos for your followers!

Use these tips to create a visual impression of your next event on Instagram! Share your event hash tags with us so we can see what you do!

Beautiful and Unusual Spring Centerpieces

Springtime was a long time coming this year- at least in the North Carolina mountains where we live. I’m 189% ready to breath in the warmer air of spring and open all the windows in my house to blow away the woodsmoke and dust of winter.

vegetable-centerpieceSpringtime also brings lots of fresh possibilities for decorating, today we’ll focus on centerpieces. When planning a centerpiece for your next event, consider:

  1. Unusually presented flowers. Add something unexpected to the vase like cut fruit or even whole carrots. Or ditch the vase all together and use teacups, ball jars, cabbage leaves, watering cans, or umbrellas.
  2. Let the changing landscape inspire you. Spring brings herbs, butterflies, bees, birds nests, budding branches, and bright green grass. Use one or two of these items to create a surprising centerpiece. You might need to try several combination to hit on something that is aesthetically pleasing. Try it out before you buy/collect enough for every table.
  3. Spring activities. What does Spring find you enjoying? Walks in rain boots, collecting flowers, gardening with gloves and trowel, watching birds with bird book in hand, painting with watercolors outside, or building a bluebird house? It can be fun and surprising to collect some of these tools and display them artistically.
  4. Books on Spring. I’m a book lover, and when I’m in a pinch, I can always go into my library and find a few books on almost any subject.  For a spring centerpiece I could bring down a gardening book, a birding book, and a travel book and surround them with some pastel candles. Lovely!
  5. Celebrate Easter by including a cross or relevant Scripture. There are so many arresting reproductions of the cross- or you can create your own with twigs and twine. (Don’t pair this with eggs. It’s a confusing combination of symbols.) Relevant Scripture on Christ’s resurrection can be beautifully scripted on thick pieces of paper and framed or folded to stand upright.

Do you have a favorite Spring centerpiece? Share a description or photo with us.

How To Create Your Own Social Media Promo Image in Photoshop

Sometimes, on Facebook and Pinterest you see an image with words imposed over it, that really catches your eye.  Today, I’m going to give you a quick tutorial on how to create these professional looking visuals that will steer people towards your site.

  1. Choose an image as your background. You want this to be interesting, not too busy, have “space” somewhere on it for the text you will be adding, and be representative of the topic. Save this image somewhere you will be able to find it.
  2. In Photoshop click File, then New.  Name it, and choose the canvas size.
  3. Now click File and select Place. Find the image you have saved and select it. Move it around on your blank canvas until it is exactly where you want it to be. Once you double click it will be set onto the canvas.
  4. Click the Shape Tool on the toolbar and select the rectangle tool. Draw the shape that will show behind your text. Now choose a color that complements your photo. In the Layers toolbar you can select opacity and slide it down until you like the effect. I like somewhere around 35%.
  5. Go to the text tool, draw the text box and add your text. Fiddle around with fonts until you love it. Be sure to include a minimum of words, remember, people will be scanning, not reading a paragraph.
  6. Save as, and then upload to your social media or website.

Here’s an example of an image that was used to draw people to a specific article on a company website.


So what do you need to promote today? How might an image, inviting people to register or sign up to receive an information pack, be shared on Facebook, Pinterest, or other social media site? Enjoy experimenting.

Organizing a Fundraising Event

Unless you are hosting a group of multimillionaires, your fundraising event is not going to make much money.

What? You’ve poured hundreds of man hours into planning, and spent money on entertainment and, or a meal. So, why plan a fundraising event? To bring attention to a cause or organization and to establish and strengthen relationships with donors who will give over time.

To do this difficult work of establishing and strengthening relationships be sure to include the following items in your fundraising event:

  1. A call to action. Don’t let your attendees wonder what you want them to do. Sign up to volunteer one weekend in the next two months? Give money towards a specific goal?  Make this clear!
  2. Multiple ways to get involved. People’s health, schedule, financial and family circumstances limit and gift them in different ways. Do you have multiple opportunities for people to get involved with the cause or organization? A mother with children may not be able to clear an entire Saturday to help, but she might be happy to come by your office and pick up envelopes to stuff for a big mailing. Vary the options for your volunteers.
  3. Nurture relationships with follow-up. As the fundraising event coordinator it may not be your job to follow-up with the attendees. But, even if it is not, be sure you get enough information from everyone that follow-up is possible. Fundraising is all about relationships. Call the people who give, sign-up, and volunteer. Thank them, take them out to lunch, ask why they are passionate about the cause and how they envision helping in the next 12 months.

Organizing a fundraising event comes with its own strategies and challenges.  I hope these tips will help make your next money-raising event a success!

How To Choose The Most Effect Promotional Items

The range of promotion materials you can have printed for your event is extensive.  But some event planners seem to fasten on to just one or two options and never venture away from them. Here’s a list of choices to get your creative juices flowing, it might be time to try something different.

  • Baseball cap
  • T Shirts
  • Polo Shirts
  • Lanyard
  • Coffee cups
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Golf balls
  • Bags
  • Magnets
  • Luggage tags
  • Stationary
  • Memory Stick
  • CD/DVD
  • Banner
  • Tent card
  • Key chain
  • Postcard
  • Memo pad
  • Sticker
  • Gift basket
  • Chocolate
  • Water bottles
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Umbrella
  • Calculator

So how do you decide what would be most effective? First, identify your end goal. What do you want to happen because of this piece of promo material? Do you want someone to advertise your event for you, or remember to go online and register? If you want someone to remember to register a memo pad with “Register online at www.greatevent.com” would be much more helpful than a T-Shirt with your event logo printed on it.
Where do you want your user to be when they interact with your information? Near a computer? In the kitchen? The answer to this question will help you choose your best specific promotional piece.

If you’re planning on giving out your promo material at a conference- think about the likely weather and activities. Will it be sunny and warm, is everyone golfing? Perhaps you could have your logo printed on a set of golf balls or water bottles.

If you have a very desirable or more expensive promo item, you could require an action from your visitors before giving them the piece. For example- filling out a survey or watching a one minute video and answering three questions to “earn” the item.  Remember, your goal is not just to come up with the “coolest” promo item, but to find one that is desirable, useful and moves people to accomplish the action you want them to take. Keep track of an item’s success, and build on what you learn after each event.