Meeting design applications still eluding you?
No problem. Headed back from NYC, I thought I’d share a few meeting design principles you can consider as you plan your meetings.
I was at the Professional Conference Management Association Education Conference, in New York City at the New York Marriott Marquis. And I can say that the organizers clearly thought through the meeting design process. WOWZA!
The stated goals were to create dialogue in and around immersive experiences. And even now, it continues. Though through our meetingWorks services we utilize meeting design practices with clients, to see so many ideas in play at once was a thrill!
Actually, there are too many elements for me to mention – call me if you want more – but here are some highlights that left me uber impressed.
1. Focus on Participant Engagement
First, at every turn, it was clear multiple methods were set up to engage participants. Being a passive attendee would have been virtually impossible. With constant opportunities to give input, share feedback, choose directions and ask questions, it felt more like a choose-your-own-adventure experience than a conference.
The meeting design stimulated the participants’ intellectual, emotional, social and physical learning. Beyond the sessions themselves, much of the physical space was laid out to promote conversations and interactions.
While many strategies offered we’d seen – and used – before, it was the overall thoughtful combination of techniques that worked so effectively.
In addition to some of the now traditional methods of creating engagement such as social media, blank meter boards and audience polling, PCMAEC used:
- intended-for-sharing BotJoy art
- simple bathroom mirror quotes
- and a fill-in-the-blanks business library.
2. Embrace Creativity & Risk
Let’s face it, we all want to look like rock-stars when we plan a meeting or event. Trying new meeting design methodologies can mean putting your reputation, and potentially your job, on the line. An overarching story throughout the conference was stepping outside your comfort zone.
The thing is, status quo programs may be safe, but they will not take you, or your organization, into the future. The session’s content went from “Failing Fast” to “Using Constraints to Fuel Creativity” to “Overcoming Fears in Presenting.” Not only did we learn about embracing risk, the PCMAEC planners demonstrated it with fresh formats.
For example, three different sessions were crowdsourced topics and required volunteer facilitators. Gulp. Six concurrent sessions required all registrants leave the Marriott at one time to travel to six off-site mystery venues for immersive educational experiences. Logistical intricacy that must have looked like lace. To top it off, there was even a hackathon competition.
And how about the sponsor who honestly shared major setbacks and obstacles they had faced? Brene Brown would have been proud of the vulnerability.
3. Reach Outside the Industry
One of the biggest observable meeting design risks of all was the near absence of all our favorite meeting industry speakers.
Instead, a behavioral scientist, a screenwriter and poet, a millennial entrepreneur, two Stanford social science professors, a risk management executive, a sports brand marketer and others shared unique perspectives on our world. And then they put context around their thoughts, empowering us to apply new insights.
It turns out, that the move may not have been so risky. A 1990 Cornell study discusses how exploiting external knowledge is critical to an organization’s ability to innovate.
How then, can we capitalize on related industries’ practices and knowledge to expand our own? How can you design your organization’s meetings to encourage innovation and develop behavior change? We would be happy to answer these and other related questions for you.
Finally, did the PCMAEC team achieve meeting design perfection? Of course not. But perfection wasn’t ever the goal. The goal was to take risks, pave new roads and provoke connections. Goals achieved. And how!
Did you see any concepts you’d like to try? I’m eager to implement these and at least 50+ other ideas.
Let’s get going designing your next meeting today!
Call Meredith directly at 678-907-7132 or simply use the contact form to the right to reach out.
PS – I’ve been involved with Meeting Professionals International for nearly 15 years at both the chapter and global level. I just joined my local chapter of Professional Conference Management Association last year. (Click to learn more about the value of being involved in associations) My friends over at Meet Puerto Rico invited me to participate in the #PCMAEC event in New York City. SOOO grateful!