Meeting planning is not the same as meeting design. But they are best friends.
We believe meeting planning is critical. It’s a highly skilled position requiring years of expertise and knowledge. We ADORE our meeting planning friends, partners and clients. But it’s not the same as meeting design. We know this could be read as a potentially divisive statement. Isn’t it okay, though, for some of us to have differing skills and interests? Can’t we still appreciate the need for one another?
We really do need each other. A meeting design specialist is going to have a different perspective and a different take on the meeting agenda, the meeting space, the meeting meals than a meeting planner. And this is a good thing. One is about managing budgets, needs, contracts, numbers and all the other crazy important things designers wouldn’t even know to think of. The other is about color, shape, flow, mood. And they both MUST be about the meeting objectives. Two sides of the same coin. And yes, a great planner can also be a great designer or vice versa. I know several.
People want to be participants.
People are tired of showing up at meetings. Do a quick internet search on cartoons about meetings. None of them shine a positive light on our industry. They are viewed as boring, a waste of time, repetitive and unnecessary. Attendees have not given meetings a good reputation.
What people do want is to get involved, to engage, to interact. They want to share their thoughts, their perspective, their knowledge. So LET THEM! Encourage them even. Show them how; lead the way. Through session formats, technology, space usage and more, you can drive active participation.
Participants remember the way you make them feel.
What unique experiences can you create to make your meeting participants feel empowered, appreciated and excited. Utilizing music, lighting, food, technology, signage, all of it, you can create moments of great impact that will be remembered for years to come. Meeting design incorporates these elements and more. There are a lot of fantastically talented meeting planners out there who do this really well. Perhaps it’s because they are thinking like designers.
And, participants who have an emotional memory of a meeting are far more likely to remember the content of the meeting. Learning retention goes up and delivers favorably toward achieving meeting objectives. Win, win, win.
It’s not about the meeting, it’s about the people at the meeting.
When it comes right down to it, as much as the meeting exists as the structure and container for the learning, the networking, and the motivation that occur, it is exactly that, a container. In and of itself, the meeting has no context without the people who will be there. When the people don’t sign up, what do we do? We cancel the meeting.
Re-imagine and upgrade your meeting participants’ experience. Design – and plan – for the people, not for the meeting. Who will be there? What do they need to learn, apply or sell? Who do they need to serve or reach? How do they need content delivered? How do they connect with others? Yes, it’s about the vessel. The vessel MUST exist to provide structure and space. But don’t forget what’s in the vessel. Meeting design is participant focused.
The meeting you planned last year is waving bye-bye.
Don’t be the last one to jump on board. This industry is changing, and the rate of change is only going to accelerate. Yes, people are always going to need to gather. We seem to be social that way. But it will look very different and the ways it’s going to change are all related to design. Research, connect, learn, experiment, but don’t count on your past successes to be enough. Move into and use your meeting design mind.
Or, partner with a great meeting designer. We just might know someone who could help. 😉
To schedule a discovery call or find out more about how the meetingWorks team within PlayWorks Group can help re-imaging and upgrade your participants’ experience, fill out the form to your right or call us today!