It’s graduation time! So often we think of traditional high school or college graduations. Let’s face it, being stuck in a high school gym is usually hot, sweaty and too long! As many schools prepare for online graduations, why not host online graduations for your business training programs or rewards events?
Since 2006, we have held online graduation ceremonies for delegates of our Consultative Sales Certification Program (CSC) complete with commencement speakers and valedictorians that make the events memorable and special. Online events can be held at any time of the year and make it easy for global classmates to make connections.
Graduation ceremonies may not be warranted for certain programs like single training events, but for more complicated or in-depth curricula or end-of quarter sales awards, ceremonies may certainly be appreciated. With the CSC program, participants have studied and demonstrated competence and outcomes in eight core consultative sales competencies. Graduates appreciate the recognition for their accomplishments after months of applying skills and proving sales outcomes.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS FOR HOSTING A TRULY MEMORABLE ONLINE GRADUATION EVENT.
PLAN FOR SUCCESS
Plan your event minute by minute. Online graduation ceremonies shouldn’t last more than one and a half hours. Therefore, limit your group size to no more than twenty-five to allow for proper recognition of each graduate. If there are more than twenty-five graduates in your class, consider splitting into smaller groups.
DISTRIBUTE DIPLOMAS IN ADVANCE
For CSC, graduates receive a padded leatherette diploma jacket, embossed with the CSC seal and with a certificate signed by program coaches and company executives. Make a big deal out of this. Sending a digital diploma is nice, but doesn’t deliver the same impact as sending a physical diploma which is properly mounted and ready for display.
RECRUIT A RESPECTED COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER
It is best to recruit a respected industry or vertical market expert. Make sure you provide bullet points or other communication letting the guest speaker know what you would like them to address. The theme for sales graduations is typically an update on industry trends, followed by a message on best sales practices now and in the future. The commencement address should be no more than ten to fifteen minutes! It is helpful to meet with your commencement speaker at least once before the event for a dry run.
SELECT A VALEDICTORIAN OR TWO
We don’t literally have a valedictorian for our CSC graduations, however we typically ask one or two special achievers to address the group regarding what they have learned and how they have changed their sales performance. You can always ask for volunteers from your class to see if anyone would like to make a statement during graduation. Let them know in advance what you want them to address and for how long. We typically allow about two minutes each for two or three class presenters.
COLLECT INDIVIDUAL PHOTOS
Collect photos of each recipient prior to the event. We use these to display on screen next to each graduate’s diploma as they are presented. Be sure to obtain photos of the commencement speaker as well as any other company “officials” who will be presenting. Video cameras are not recommended for these events as they can bog down speed and can also be distracting when you want the focus on each graduate.
COMPILE A CLASS PHOTO
Using the individual photos of each participant, compile a class photo. We keep ours very similar to what you received in school, with the name of each recipient under each photo. It is a nice way to create memories and connections.
RECORD THE EVENT
Distribute the recording as a keepsake and consider playing it in the corporate or employee lounge areas or intranet site. Of course, you will want to let everyone know you will be recording the event in advance and ask permission to do so.
DURING THE EVENT – HERE IS SUGGESTED TIMING:
(5 Min.) – Welcome and Introductions. Present Agenda
(15 Min.) – Commencement Address
(25 Min.) – Graduate Messages – Highlights of Success and Growth
(25 Min.) – Presentation of Graduates (One minute each with picture and diploma on screen. Introduce each with a comment on something memorable).
(5 Min.) – Presentation of Graduating Class (Post the class photo)
(15 Min.) – Closing Remarks – Presented by VP of Sales or other Executive
AFTER THE EVENT
In addition to the aforementioned accolades, be sure to congratulate the graduates on social media. If the graduates earned specific credentials, encourage them to update social media profiles with the designated credentials. Provide graduates with specific logos or program branding to include in their profiles.