This issue I would like to talk about motivation; you know, that mythical feeling of accomplishment that is the topic of 10 million books. Motivation is a constantly morphing entity that can shape-shift in seconds. The very thing that motivates you today could repulse you tomorrow. This makes me wonder if motivational speakers have any idea what they are talking about.
Don't get me wrong. I know motivational speakers; I am friends with motivational speakers; but I am no motivational speaker. I respect what they do, but I just don't know how they do it. It's almost like they believe that stuff themselves.
All I know for sure is that motivation changes as you get older. Take a look at your average 20-year-old today. What motivates this tattooed slacker? Free tickets to a Skulljammers concert or a billion-bit iPod. But as we age, our motivational goals change — to the point where today what motivates me is comfortable shoes and a nap.
Constructing incentive programs that appeal to both the young go-getters and the senior veterans becomes a formidable task for the meeting planner. Fortunately, I have a few suggestions to help you in preparing for your next conference. Consider these activities:
Rafting on a Scenic River — Nothing is more tranquil than floating down a lazy river on a sunny afternoon. This would be the perfect day trip for the more sedate of your attendees if only they didn't have to exert themselves by paddling. Enter the eager, type A, 20-somethings who are looking for excitement and a competitive challenge. They can be divided into teams with one team assigned to each raft of passengers. Then they are harnessed to the rafts by ropes and when the signal is given, the go-getters swim downstream while towing a raft full of people who have opened up their box lunches and are passing around a bottle of wine. For a real challenge, have the swimmers tow the rafts upstream too.
If your destination is Alaska, the same effect can be achieved with dog-sled races, replacing the dogs with young producers wearing snowshoes and filling the sleds with seasoned veterans comfortably situated under layers of buffalo hides. The result is an exhausted yet exhilarated younger set, and happy and slightly tipsy passengers who have had great sport without the pain of exertion.
A Scavenger Hunt — A scavenger hunt can be the basis of a great incentive trip. You are holding your conference in, say, Munich, Germany. You divide your teams between the overachievers and the over-relaxers and give each a list of items to bring back. The key is that you give each team different lists. For the active competitors, you assign items like a bouquet of edelweiss from the peak of the Alps, a postcard postmarked in Lichtenstein, and a speeding ticket from the Autobahn. The more demure team will have different things on their list, like a beer mug from the Hofbrauhaus; a photo taken with someone German; and a Euro. It's a win-win scenario.
Art Class — Leisure-lovers always enjoy a fun-filled educational session. After an informative lecture on watercolor painting, the participants are given the opportunity to create their own masterpieces. The quieter members use the traditional easels and paints, while the action-oriented create their artwork by shooting each other with paintball guns. The colorful patterns left on their clothing can be framed to take home, and the bruises left by the paintballs will be judged at a contest held later by the pool.
I have a lot more ideas just as good as these, so if you're stuck for an idea for your next event, give me a call.
Dale Irvin is known as“the professional summarizer.” He attends meeetings around the world and recaps the events with instantly written comedy monologues. For more information, and to sign up for Dale's free Friday Funnies, visit www.daleirvin.com or call him at (800) 951-7321. For booking, contact Ruth Levine at Speak Inc., (858) 228-3771.