Eric de Groot in action in Kuala Lumpur, May 2014.
Eric de Groot in action in Kuala Lumpur, May 2014.

Eric de Groot is one of the very first Meeting Designers and his pioneering work started in 1992; now he caters to the national and international market. Thanks to his background in drama-education he takes a broad, human as well as an educational perspective to meetings and meeting processes. Eric regularly conducts workshops and learning sessions for professionals in the meeting industry as well as in other educational contexts. In early 2013 the book he wrote with his co-writer and business partner Mike van der Vijver about Meeting Design was released – “Into the Heart of Meetings”.

Q: Why do we need to rethink the way we organise our events?

Events have become a crucial element in the education of adults, the creation of solution and cross silo organisational contacts. Besides this we do not have more than online communication and family life. Therefore, the responsibility to enrich these events beyond one directional messaging is huge.

Q: What is wrong with the format of meetings as we have them now?   

We need more action, more result driven programming and more crowd sourcing in our conferences. The world is facing many problems that need a smart meeting culture to get closer to solutions. Meeting Design can help!

"Meeting designer"

Q: What is a definition of a good meeting design? 

Good Meeting Design leads to real results in the real world after the meeting took place. That is the only measurement. Of course, a well-designed meeting can do much more, like giving fun, entertainment and interesting personal contacts, but how the meeting changes the world is key.

Q: Who is a ‘meeting designer’?  

The one responsible for the exact script of the meeting. The script is the final document, in the hands of a facilitator, moderator or chairperson, leading the participants through the meeting program.

“The meeting needs to have action, emotional wealth, process time and diverse contact carriers.”

Q: Give us an example of one of your favourite, well-designed meetings?   

A couple of things are important to achieve the results as mentioned before. The meeting needs to have action, emotional wealth, process time and diverse contact carriers. This all expressed in a narrative that is felt and understood by the participants. Many meetings we designed had this in the past. An exceptional one was the VNG Congress with 2500 people from the Local Dutch Governmental Organisations under one roof. It had it all! We opened with two Sumo Wrestlers and ended with the Minister of Internal Affairs. In between a lot happened! And every single participant of the 2500 was involved in the meeting’s conversation, and not with an App, but f2f!

Q: What always makes you smile? 

When participants embrace the fact that they co-create the meeting, and start contributing, and new ideas and insights fly through the meeting room…