Nick Gray, entrepreneur and author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party: How to Build Big Relationships at Small Gatherings is a treasure trove of insights and practical tips on how to throw better parties and events. The corporate meeting world and individuals alike stand to learn a lot from his unique insights.
What makes a great event?
Is it the venue? The company? The drinks?
Nick Gray, entrepreneur and author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party: How to Build Big Relationships at Small Gatherings, has hosted hundreds of parties and has turned throwing events into a science.
In the coming weeks and months, startups and business alike will throw team offsites, cocktail, and holiday parties. These events are designed to connect people and build better relationships with the members of your team and community. By following a few of Nick’s simple tips, you can ensure your party hits the mark!
First, Nick highly recommends a cocktail party opposed to a dinner party. Dinner parties can have a “clumping” effect meaning you are sat next to the same few people and have little opportunities to mingle with new party goers. He also listed the complications and disruption of flow that food can have on an event.
Snacks and finger foods, perhaps a charcuterie board, will be enough to keep people satisfied and on their feet! And yes, it is our job as the host to encourage standing, movement, mingling, and dancing (sure why not). It is the facilitator, or host’s, job to keep the party flowing. In Nick’s book, he has a very specific structure to the party, but we don’t want to give away all the gold!
Here’s an acronym coined by Nick Gray himself that guarantees connection amongst your attendees. Let’s dive into the NICK party formula.
Inform all attendees they will be wearing name tags at the event. Let’s face it, remembering a bunch of new names can be overwhelming. Having everyone at the party/event where name tags removes a big point of friction when making new connections.
Ice breakers are a great way to relax a room. Nick states the three different levels of ice breakers (green, yellow, and the daunting red) and the importance of picking one that creates zero judgment and is simple to answer. Example of a green icebreaker being “what’s your favorite breakfast food” and a red being “what’s your greatest fear”. Yikes, right? Let’s stick with green and keep the party light and fun!
This could be wine or mixed drinks or an assortment of non-alcoholic beverages for people to enjoy. Nick recommends straying from beer because “beer drinkers are brand loyal.”
Kick everyone out at the end.
Creating a defined time limit for the party relieves a level of anxiety on party and attendance length. No reason for the Irish Goodbye at a Nick Gray themed party, the host is responsible for keeping the fun to two hours.
When it comes to the size of the party, Nick suggests that you aim for between around 15 people. In a corporate setting, you may be forced to host a larger number of people. If that does happen, Nick had some unique insights into parties that ventured just outside of his framework of the home hosted cocktail party of 15 people.
Let’s say your team dinner was sixty people. First, Nick recommends attempting to throw a cocktail hour prior to being locked in for dinner.
Once your event moves to dinner, Nick recommends splitting into smaller groups, with the magic number of people around a dinner table being six, which allows for everyone to contribute to the conversation without fracturing into smaller groups.
Whether you are responsible for hosting a team event in a business setting, or throwing a cocktail party for friends in your home, the conversation with Nick and Conner is worth a listen! You can also find his book here.
Tune into the Travel Nerds podcast to hear a step by step event hosting formula from a party planning guru. Keep up with Travel Nerds and Allfly to see the results from our team party this month!