We’re three weeks into our four week blog series about why team building events are critical to meetings and conferences (and trainings too!). So far we’ve talked about networking, which is often why people say they sign up of for and go to conferences. Today we’re chatting about learning which is the most often cited reason meeting owners give for hosting a meeting.
Keynote Speakers are the Opposite of Team Building Events
You pack your meeting and conference full of amazing subject matter experts and speakers ready to fill the brains of everyone there with a wealth of knowledge, insight an applications. But what happens to the learning once people leave the room and get back to real life? While statistics vary widely and there are loads of arguments about how much people remember and how much people forget, the fact that an acceptable measurement for learning retention could be 5% and we’d still use that methodology is absurd. That’s the percentage often attributed to listening to a lecture. 5%. Whaaa? Let’s assume for just a minute that the number is WAY off and say we’re at more like 40%. Does that really make it okay? Is it really feasible that we still trot out big name key notes and spend HUGE dollars on expert speakers when are participants are NOT learning? I’ll let Jeff Hurt continue to lead this crusade, but let’s just say, I’m in agreement that this is nonsense.
So we cancel all speakers and just do team building, right? No, I’m clearly a fan but I’m not an idiot. Plan for interactive sessions where instead of speakers you have facilitators who can draw out the knowledge of the people in the room for productive discussion and sharing. Your participants have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Let them share it. Sure, let the latest research or newest data be shared, but find more interesting ways to do it so that the conference itself is for exploring and practicing the application of the new information. Create hands on opportunities and role play scenarios.
The Science of Team Building Events and Learning Retention
And yes, include a team building event. Here’s why:
When participants are having a good time, endorphins are released. They are also creating an emotional memory. Because of the emotional content of the memory, it provides a contextual memory of the content. This will prompt participants during recall and provide easier access to the learning. In fact, the playful atmosphere you’ve created during the team building actually solidifies memory and even shortens the distance between synapses! Pretty cool, huh? Check out more in Stuart Brown’s book Play. But that’s not all.
According to research in Matthew Lieberman’s book Social, all of our brains are wired to be social by default. When participants are interacting with one another in the social setting of team building, they are actually “resting” their brain, again, solidifying neural synapse connections. Their brains reward center is tapped and additional chemicals are released driving cooperation and sharing knowledge. This in turn, once again increases learning retention.
So why exactly were you considering eliminating team building events from the agenda? Might seem like a bad idea now, right?
If learning, specifically learning retention, is one of your key meeting metrics, it seems like you have some decisions to make. And it seems like one of the obvious ones is how to build in more team building events and activities.
We’d love to hear your thoughts, questions and feedback. Next week, we’ll wrap up the blog series with motivation. So get excited! 😉