How to organise meetings that Rock

Organisation of events is about creeping under the skin of your participants. A kind of symbiosis with the participants, where the participants feel like being a part of the story. Unfortunately, too few congress organisers are aware of this fact, so about ten years ago the first group of meeting designers appeared. When I think about this topic, I immediately put a link to the didactics. To paraphrase the definition of didactics, we come to the simple definition of WHAT IS MEETING DESIGN: a science that deals with the content, methods and organisation of presentations at events.

Meeting designers are curators or moderators of meetings, who are adapting the conditions in which they organise events to make them more accessible to participants.Instead of logistics they are dedicated to architecture meetings. As a result a completely new structure of events was created, based on the underlying motivations of participation and creative work of meetings:

LEARNING               Conference-Seminar-Workshop
MOTIVATION        Incentive-Client event
INSPIRATION        Product Launch-Kick-off
CREATION                 Board retreat-Brainstorm

I especially like the link with content marketing. At the event absolute content providers are speakers of all types, shapes and characters. Think about how many people that you have heard in your life have sincerely impressed you with the content, their appearance, their voice and their figure and vice versa.

In doing so, we forget that most people actually believe the most their professional colleagues. It is necessary to create appropriate environment so that at the event discussion among participants runs smoothly, speakers are primarily motivators and provocateurs who as little as possible provide made-knowledge. Their role is in leadership, so that the participants are independently coming up with solutions to problems.

Meeting designer must because of this, first of all take good care of lecturers. Because they are usually driven by their ego, they need to be focused on and put in the context of the main theme. This is a very well known by teachers who are always preparing scripts of their presentations in the form of written lesson plans. I strongly recommend this to all congress organisers, as already through the structure they are composed of two basic elements of interaction – work of teachers and pupils’ work, or in the style of meeting design work and the work of lecturers and work of participants.

Thus I understand the meeting design as a kind of educational preparation, which carries your event and conference. For meeting designer beginner very detailed preparation is required, with years of experience a lot of things can be left to the intuition. From this perspective, advocacy and implementation of technological innovations is actually in the last place.

Too often it happens to congress organisers that with all the care of logistical details we forget the reason why the participants came to the conference. The mere physical space arrangement provides countless opportunities and tools for improvement. Different models of space arrangement such as open space, open fishbowl or word cafe will immediately improve communication and bring it to a much higher level than in traditional class setting. This is about KISS models that are tested and have in my opinion precedence over technology.

Almost all meeting designers hate PowerPoint presentations. Because of them the most of participants fall asleep at events. Usually they suffer from lack of stories and information overload. The main problem of PowerPoint in terms of today’s topic is that they unconsciously encourage monologue. Meetings of all shapes and forms should invoke questions and not automatically give answers. The audience will not forgive you this.

In these days the world famous meeting designer Mike van der Vivjer is coming to the Inside conference in Rovinj who for many years has been actively involved with conference audience. He has brought his knowledge together in a book called Into the Heart of the Meetings. It will be interesting to hear first-hand answers to the above dilemmas and learn first-hand practical tools and techniques.

Mike says this:

“Into the heart of meetings goes to the heart of meetings, and it also touches on something else: Meetings not only need to have a heart, but also a soul”.

„Meeting Design is not about getting attendees to the right location. It’s about getting in their minds.”

“The Meeting Industry acts like a car manufacturer who doesn’t know what people are doing when they actually sit inside a car.”

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Case study: FRESH CONFERENCE
Probably the best example of a good architecture of meeting and meetings design was this year’s FRESH Conference in Copenhagen. The organisers – the Meeting Support Institute have live through practical examples, presented the meeting design. The organisers have conceived the entire programme as a story through which participants would travel in three days, participants were the centre of attention.

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