Blog Taking the sting out of meetings

Blog Taking the sting out of meetings


Taking the sting out of meetings

by: Robin Miller, Director - Sales (Conferences & Events), Commercial - Conference & Event Sales

I’m sure we’ve all been there before.

“Now before we wrap up, do we have any questions from the floor?,”  asks the moderator at the end of a lecture or presentation.

Tumbleweed. Cue the awkward, pregnant pause and perhaps a light-hearted comment from the moderator before you shuffle off with the other delegates who made it to the end of the session rather than slipping out before the end, never to return.

And maybe you did have a question, as I have a few times, and you didn’t want to ask because you didn’t want to appear foolish in front of the other delegates. In fact, you had lots of questions, and you know you are in a room full of people who also have questions. And answers. And ideas and inspiration.

At some point, whether it was the venue, the meeting format, the delegate or all of the above, something caused a disconnect and helped produce the scenario I just illustrated, one that everyone is so familiar with.

Let’s think of it this way: the core objectives of sharing ideas, experiences and networking are effectively the same as when we host a party at home. And, in the age of Skype, Zoom and other methods of video conferencing, they remain the principal reason people wish to attend face-to-face events.

What makes them different? At a party, this all happens organically. People move through the space, whether it’s to get something to snack on or drink before returning to the conversation or some other reason. Point is, they choose where they want to be. Well, delegates typically don’t have a lot of choices in how and where to sit (or stand) and are therefore not put at ease. They also don’t feel they can move until the session finally ends, and this atmosphere ultimately makes them feel intimated to contribute in front of their peers and fellow attendees.

So the first objective is to change the mindset.

There is a delicate blend where participants (yes, participants, not delegates) unwittingly “get good first impressions” of the space they are in, making them relaxed, comfortable, and ready to focus and contribute.

A space can subconsciously influence the participant through a variety of factors. Having someone (a concierge or volunteer) to greet the delegate before they enter the meeting room is a personal way to alter someone’s first impression.

ADNEC recently launched a creative meeting space, The Hive specifically to address this need and to positively influence participants.    With The Hive, we looked at the shape of the rooms, the quality of light (high lumen for focus, low lumen for creativity), scents in the rooms (essential oils to unlock creativity), natural plants and colours (blues and greens) to contribute to subconsciously building a mindset that puts participants at ease. This is a critical step that establishes The Hive as a safe space to air ideas, challenge conventional wisdom and collaborate with like-minded individuals.

Environmental factors can also help to build energy and engagement, and sustain it, through a session or an all-day programme. Natural light is an important factor in changing textures and complexions throughout a session, and a variety of styles of modular furniture on wheels adds another changing visual stimulant and encourages participants to move into their own preferred settings. In other words, the room dynamic morphs as the participants see fit, synergistically.

Inviting and encouraging participants to move not just themselves but the furniture throughout the room instead of keeping things static extends the amount of focus and concentration time whilst simultaneously forcing “collisions” with fellow participants. This, in turn, builds on ideation and enhanced learning through experience.

Knowledge retention is accelerated by a factor of 10 if people are actively involved in the discussion rather than on the receiving end of a lecture, and it takes more than just a cleverly designed room to encourage participation. So, the final key is choosing the correct meeting format to meet the objectives of the session.

While we put a great deal of thought into how The Hive would look, we also put as much care into how to encourage people to interact inside. From “braindates” (where small groups can exchange knowledge in an intimate setting) to “pecha kucha” (where presenters are given 20 seconds to present 20 slides, forcing them to be quick and concise in sharing their information) to the speaker’s corner and hackathons, we work with our clients to decide which one of our many special meeting formats best suits deliver the participation outcome in mind they have in mind.

Offering food and drink throughout the session and space doesn’t slow the dynamic but does allow for further choice. It also gives the possibility of starting new connections and new conversations.

And that’s the buzz about The Hive -- a  non-traditional meeting space that uses non-traditional meeting formats to achieve what the client is aiming for by taking a strict business atmosphere with zero flexibility and making it more natural, inviting, invigorating and fun.

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