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It’s April – three full months into the year and the start of a fresh quarter – and you’re likely evaluating the effectiveness of your sales kickoffs and early-year meetings. Are you seeing the return you expected? Are your teams delivering on the brand message you so carefully rallied them around? When we consider the time and investment it takes to put on these critical annual events, ensuring that attendees walk away inspired and focused on the task ahead is everything.

So how much are your attendees truly retaining from your sales kickoffs, conferences and annual meetings? This depends on a number of factors including delivery method, interactivity, and most notably, the learning preferences of each attendee. However, despite differing learning styles, one behavior has proven constant when it comes to long-term retention – repetition, repetition, repetition.

But not just any repetition will do. Dr. Robert Bjork (no, not that Bjork) of the Bjork Learning and Forgetting Lab at the University of California, Los Angeles stresses the importance of the ‘spacing effect’. By spacing learning over multiple sessions, humans retain more information in long-term memory. Getting this spacing right is important as well. Too close together and you get a ‘massing effect’, similar to cramming for an exam, where you have clear recall in the very short-term, but can’t remember a single thing you learned even 2 days later. On the other hand, space them too far apart and you simply forget the information between sessions. As Dr. Bjork puts it,

“The more things are massed together, the more you will see apparent benefits on the short term. The more they are spread apart, the more you’ll see real benefits on the long term.”

[source: https://bjorklab.psych.ucla.edu/research/]

This is all to say that If you’re waiting until your event date to begin sharing your messaging, you’re waiting too long. Instead, plan tune-up sessions with subsets of attendees in the time leading up to your event for a huge impact on long-term retention of information, and ROI. Tune-ups enable you to:


Phase-In Your Messaging – As humans, we learn in layers, understanding the first layer before moving on to the next – we learn to crawl before we walk, walk before we run, and so on. This same concept holds true in the corporate world. Repetition of a challenge allows us to gradually understand how to address it, until our response becomes routine and we move on to more complex challenges. By working with your teams leading up to your annual kickoff, you are able to introduce concepts and gradually build upon them.


Set Expectations – Messaging for your annual kickoff shouldn’t be a surprise. The more time attendees spend with the information, the more time they have to process it and determine how best to apply it. Tune-ups put your messaging in front of attendees early, so that they have a clear sense of what to expect come event time.


Go Deeper – When we have time to process information, we are able to think more critically about it. Tune-ups afford attendees time with your messaging and allow for a more impactful experience during the event. Rather than introduce your messaging at a high level, use the event to build on it, develop camaraderie, and rally your teams for the year ahead.


To accomplish this, think about your tune-ups as teasers or mini-conferences that align with the feel and theme of your big meeting. Forget about dull PowerPoints and sleepy boardroom lectures. This can (and should) be just as exciting as the conference itself.

SongDivision’s Culture Club programming delivers energetic tune-ups that align teams around your purpose and core values using songwriting. Based on your needs and timing, we design a custom program, meeting with your teams regularly to: 1) identify how your purpose translates uniquely to them, and 2) articulate their words into original songs. This gives them the opportunity to deeply connect with your messaging over a series of sessions.

When the day of your event arrives, we continue to build on the experience by bringing your entire company together with our Team Anthem or Song Slam, both of which are designed to capture the collective understanding of your messaging through songwriting and performance. Your teams will return to work motivated, with a clear sense of purpose, and ready to deliver the best possible results for the company.

Keep in mind that regular meetings with attendees following your event are equally effective at reiterating your messaging, allowing time for processing, and developing long-term recall.


Tune-up for your annual kickoffs with Culture Club from SongDivision.
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