As we enter the fourth quarter and are tackling end of the year planning, many companies are starting to brainstorm how to approach year-end get-togethers (both in-person and virtually) and how to celebrate the holidays even if they can’t gather in the same place.
Planning your organization's end of year event is really a year-round responsibility. Once one event ends, the next one begins — at least in the organizer's mind. What went well this time? What successes and initiatives should be included in the next one? How can you top what you just did? The planning is nonstop. Even more, if you include a video in your big event.
After all, a good video takes weeks for planning and production, and since it's likely to be one of the focal points of your event, it should also be a focal point of your event planning and strategy.
Talk about pressure! Fortunately, though, we're here with some great inspiration, six show-stopping video ideas to make your gala, holiday party, or end-of-year celebration extra special.
1. Creative recap of the year
This is the most obvious kind of video, but it's all about the storytelling. People love to relive moments from the past year, especially highlights and success stories (and you'll feel good telling them). Above all, make it entertaining. Don't just have somebody read a script and cover the words with appropriate pictures. That's like going over to your neighbor's house to watch a slideshow from their last trip — there's a reason nobody does that anymore.
Instead, you might interview some of the key players from your big success stories (not just the organization's leaders) or speak directly to the experiences of your customers. Highlight their accomplishments, challenges overcome, and their proudest moments. Bring the story to life with supporting video that "takes us there" — then add music, graphics, and anything else that might increase the interest and entertainment of your audience.
Take a look at Google's Year in Search 2020 video and how they use looking back on this significant year to tell a story.
2. Illustrate Your Organization's Impact
If you're a nonprofit, video can even take the place of in-person gatherings or traditional fundraising galas, offering a way to reach your donors, celebrate accomplishments, and rally your team and partners.
As a long-time partner, Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis came to us to develop a 30-minute video program that highlighted the impact the organization made across its four main service areas. Throughout 2020 and the COVID-19, they had worked hard to provide hope and support to individuals in need across the community. The final video was also repurposed into a wider campaign of emails, social media posts, and video clips that could be shared both internally and externally throughout the organization and community. The coordinated campaign resulted in the strongest December giving Catholic Charities has ever had.
3. Feature story illustratinG success
There's a reason many organizations go with a great feature story illustrating one key success. It works. For charities and companies. If you have a compelling character who is willing to share how the organization helped them, and maybe even how they want to thank the people at the event, you've already got an interesting message. As one of my colleagues at WCCO-TV used to say, "That story just tells itself."
Don't get me wrong, it takes some work to identify the good story, and then some great storytelling to make sure it comes across correctly, but there's a reason some people refer to these interesting, engaging human interest stories as "make 'em cry" videos. If you pick the right one, there really will be tears in the audience.
Here's one of my favorites. The video below features a resident from Catholic Charities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul that opened a new building to transition people from homelessness. Instead of showing the building process or the CEO, this video features the real story of someone who's life completely changed by having a place to live.
4. Honor a key player or important leader
Want to honor a key member of your team or a key donor to the charity? Nothing calls them out more than a nice video. If the focal point of the event will be an introduction and big speech by someone important, consider adding video to the mix. A well-produced video about the person will set the stage much better than a lengthy introduction (a.k.a. somebody stumbling over their bio), and the video will even make their speech better because the audience can better understand and visualize some of the things they are likely to talk about.
5. CELEBRATE THE MANY PARTS OF YOUR COMPANY
Even when you’re in a single office, it can be difficult to know how the many parts of your company work together to achieve collective success. This becomes even more difficult when you’re part of a multi-office company, with teams spread out across the country.
MCG Civil, a large-scale manufacturer and overseer of complex infrastructure projects, was like most companies at the end of 2020 who needed to get creative finding alternatives to hosting in-person events due to social distancing. As a virtual event, they needed to be mindful of holding the attention of their audiences spread across the country. They leaned into using our thirty years of television news production experience to produce a thirty-minute branded company video.
Much like a television newscast, the video had two hosts (company leaders) and included six 3-4 minute segments uniquely packaging stories from across the organization, recognizing their offices in Castle Rock, CO, Austin, TX, and Charlotte, NC.
6. Organization leaders read a "thank you" message
Read that sentence again for a moment. It says leaders (plural), not just one leader. In other words, I'm not talking about one person reading a one-minute script. No matter how compelling the copy, that won't get anybody's attention. I'm talking about a group of people, reading small parts of the script into the camera individually — edited into one message.
It's an interesting, compelling way to show off your team, highlight some of the things that they do (by paying careful attention to backgrounds), and gives the feeling that the collective group is thankful for the support.
7. Employees sing a song (or read a poem) line-by-line
If you're looking for a big reaction, get people to sing or read an old song. Whether they sing a Christmas carol line-by-line or read a poem like The Night Before Christmas, their character will come out. Your biggest hams will play to the camera and get big laughs. Your shyest staffers will also play well — as long as you can convince them to go on camera. This is our favorite, fun, inclusive kind of video for an end-of-year event, and it really is a guaranteed show-stopper.
Whether you are creating your video internally or working with a video production company to help you, it's important to take some time to brainstorm different ideas that could work best for your event. Your video might be funny, it could be a tear-filled story, or a celebration of big milestones, but no matter what, it needs to be well-planned. Here are some more video examples to help inspire you.
Editors Note: This blog was originally published on Oct 26, 2015, and was updated on October 19, 2021.