Meetings

Bananas! Event-Planning Takeaways from “Minions”

By / Jul 17, 2015 (Universal Pictures)

If you think there’s nothing to learn about conventions from a bunch of small, yellow creatures, you’re wrong. Some takeaways from the newly released Despicable Me spinoff.

I’ve found meetings-related lessons from a handful of things I’ve done outside of work—like going to a state fair or attending an Arcade Fire concert.

What if you offered a group of attendees (say, those who have attended for 15-plus years) a discount or access to a session where they get to meet an industry celebrity?

But I’ve managed to surprise even myself with what I’m going to draw conclusions from in this post. So, without further ado (drum roll, please …), here are four reminders I took away for meeting planners as I was watching Minions earlier this week.  (Warning: The remainder of this blog post contains some minor plot details. If you want to avoid spoilers and see it in the theater, now’s probably a good time to stop reading. But come back later after you’ve seen the film!)

However, before I get to the lessons, let me give you some background, especially for those of you who know nothing about the Despicable Me franchise.

Minions—small, yellow, cylindrical creatures—live to serve a master, and the more evil he or she is, the better. In the movie, the Minions are left without a master after a series of mishaps. Being leaderless leaves them all depressed, so one of them—Kevin—comes up with a plan. He, along with pals Stuart and Bob, leave the tribe in search of a new evil boss. After they arrive in New York City, they come across a secret villain TV channel advertising Villain Con in Orlando, an event billed as “the biggest gathering of criminals anywhere.” (Now can you see where I’m going?)

Convinced they must attend, the trio hitch a ride to Villian Con with the Nelson family (see clip above) in hopes that it’s the perfect place to find a new evil master. Which leads me to the takeaways:

Gather the right people in the right place. While your attendees may not be looking for a new evil master at your meeting, they could be looking for a new job opportunity—which hopefully doesn’t come with a despicable boss—or just the chance to talk and network with leaders in the field. Give them a compelling reason to go—the Minions found theirs when they saw the lineup at Villain Con—and registration numbers will soar.

Add some exclusivity. Kevin, Stuart, and Bob find out about Villain Con on a secret TV channel. And once they arrive onsite, they need a secret passcode to enter the convention hall, which just so happens to be located underground. No, I don’t think you need to give your attendees a secret password to gain entrance, but what if you offered a group of attendees (say, those who have attended for 15-plus years) a discount or access to a session where they get to meet an industry celebrity? They’ll feel special and part of an exclusive group, which can build loyalty.

Offer a one-of-a-kind opportunity. In the movie, the Minions are most excited to see Scarlet Overkill, who is considered the world’s first female supervillain. It just so happens that she’s also Villain Con’s general session speaker, and she offers a member of the audience the rare chance to be one of her henchmen. All that is required to get the job is to steal a ruby that she has with her on stage. Associations could riff off of this idea at their meeting by offering a startup or innovation competition, for example.

Capture and know your audience. This takeaway is more for speakers than planners. In the movie, Overkill make a grand entrance into the general session hall—flying through the air in the dress that’s part rocket, part weapons holder. It leaves the audience ooh-ing and ahh-ing and visibly excited to hear what she has to say. Clearly, she put some thought into her arrival and the audience she would be addressing—something that every speaker needs to do no matter the event.

Well, I did it. I actually gleaned four event-planning lessons from a children’s movie. Either this is the best post I’ve done—or the craziest yet! I’ll leave it up to you all to decide.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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