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Kongres Magazine talked to Bo Krüger, a seasoned veteran within the meetings industry, who uncovered how to solve mysteries and why experimenting is crucial. Bo also shared his thoughts on various event types and how he envisages an ideal meetings industry.

Q1: What is your take on the fact that the fashion industry will earn twice as much with virtual sales compared to the real world? What lesson can the meetings industry take from the fashion industry?

I am sceptical because I am always sceptical towards predictions and forecasts. So many black swan events (unknown unknowns) can happen and easily change a prediction like that.

Our technological skills are constantly improving, and so are virtual technologies. Thus, going virtual, of course, has enormous potential for the meeting industry. But I have no idea what exactly it will look like.

Q2: Imagine you had the opportunity to transfer everything you deem unnecessary from the classic world of events into the virtual or metaverse world; what do you choose first?

Why would I bring something unnecessary into the virtual world? I would rather get rid of all the unnecessary things. I guess that’s one of the ideas of going virtual or into the Metaverse – that we can shape events better to our needs and desires.

However, the first unnecessary thing I would bring to the Metaverse with me would be BOREDOM. I would then bring it to the MUSEUM FOR USELESS RELICS FROM THE REAL WORLD and exhibit it next to a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of Cherry Coke and a CD with Billy Ray Cyrus.

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Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

“Meetings should be an explosion of energy and meaningful connections that give us a sense of progression.”

Q3: Being proactive to achieve a green transformation within the meetings industry is not simple. As you say, we do not have a developed toolbox to solve this mystery. Therefore, how should we start sustainably transforming the meetings industry?

I suggest three steps:

First – make a HIGH PITCH CONCEPT. HPC is about making a clear choice on where you want to go and describing it in a compact and inspiring way. For example: “No Greenwashing, only carbon bashing” or “We are the meetings industry’s answer to a Forest – Every time we plant a meeting, we create a world greener than before the meeting.”

A HIGH PITCH CONCEPT aims to tell everyone where we are heading, but without detailed plans, to give space for everyone to improvise, be creative and make their own choices.

Secondly – make sure the people you will solve the mystery with have the know-how to collaborate and co-create in an environment of uncertainty. That can be done by creating psychological safety. Psychological safety is a climate where the team members dare to take interpersonal risks and feel safe to speak up about concerns, ideas and questions.

Thirdly – start experimenting. We have never tried to solve a mystery like a climate crisis before. No manual or data can tell us what to do. The best way to find out is by experimenting and testing ideas and seeing what works and what does not. It is about learning as fast as possible.

Q4: In your opinion, what should we stop doing in regard to in-person events? Vice versa, what element should we not abandon at all costs?

We should:

– Stop believing that the best way to learn is through one-way communication, like presentations and panels. There are so many other ways we can facilitate learning and knowledge sharing.

– Stop believing that meaningful connections of high quality among the participants happen all by themselves or only through cocktail parties and eating together. There are so many ways we can facilitate meaningful connections.

Q5: What is your take on the various event types, some invented during the corona crisis (live, digital, hybrid, metaverse)? How will we transition in the future?

LIVE: They will become extinct if we do not move away from one-way communication and massive carbon emissions. We have to focus more on cocreation and facilitating meaningful connections.

DIGITAL: the advantages are enormous. The main problem now is a lack of engagement and human connection. Too many digital meetings are produced as if they were TV broadcasts or bad versions of physical meetings.

However, the technologies will improve, and our technical skills will grow. And hopefully, we will learn to make the digital formats more creative and engaging and find ways to connect with others in meaningful ways.

HYBRID: A misfit bastard that needs an extreme makeover to fit in. But obviously, we will keep having situations where some participants are in-person and others distant. We have to solve this mystery.

METAVERSE: The success of the meetings and events in the Metaverse does not rely on its ability to create fancy avatars and immersive worlds. It is nice to have, but not really important. If the Metaverse does not help us fulfil our basic human needs, it will evaporate before it even started. There is a huge potential if it can help us:

  • Grow competencies and mastery, which we can use in our (work) life.
  • Connect with others and make us feel that we are part of a community.
  • Help us collaborate and co-create in new and unseen ways.
  • Give us a sense of autonomy and help us customise to our individual needs and desires.
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Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

“The hybrid event form is a misfit bastard that needs an extreme makeover to fit in.”

Q6: How do different event types address the topical problem of human interaction, which is at the core of our industry and a basis for learning?

I will express it with these short sentences:

ACTIVE beats PASSIVE
SHORT beats LONG
VARIATION beats SAME
SHARING beats ONE WAY
TOGETHER beats ALONE
GREEN beats BLACK

Q7: What is your opinion on omnipresent panel discussions at events and the role they play? How can we make them more intriguing and interactive? Are there any alternatives to panel discussions?

The idea of panel discussions is that they should inspire and make us smarter. Unfortunately, they are often boring, and we stop listening after a while.

Three ideas to change the format (if you insist on having a panel instead of doing something completely different):

Idea#1: Snowball questions:
Ask the audience to write questions to the panel on white A4 papers. Wrap it as snowballs and throw it at the panel. The moderator picks up snowballs and asks the questions to panel.

Idea#2: Dilemma game.
Ask the panel to stand up. Draw a dilemma line on the floor. Ask them a good question e.g. “Are panels the best way to learn?” On one end of the dilemma line, write YES and write NO on the other. Ask the panel to put themselves on the line in a place that fits their opinion. Then interview them and ask them why they are standing where they are.

Idea #3: Emoji lollipops.
Give the panel lollipop signs with different emojis. Ask for questions from the audience. Let the panel see the emoji signs and what they think of the question.

bo_kruger
Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

“Meetings should leave us inspired and ready to make a change and not bored to death in body bags.”

Q8: How do you imagine an ideal meetings industry? What should be its core value?

Meetings should be an explosion of energy and meaningful connections that give us a sense of progression. We should use them to solve the mysteries we are all facing together instead of wasting them on status games and boring presentations. They should leave us energised, inspired and ready to make a change and not bored to death in body bags.


Learn more about Bo and Moving Minds here.