Is Your Meeting on Autopilot? How Sameness will Sabotage Your Event Every Time
Mar 29, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

Have you ever driven home and not remembered the trip? Been in a meeting and not remembered the presenter's name or topic? Or worse, come back from a three-day conference chalked full of education, only to remember a few tidbits? Why can't we remember the details when asked to recall them?  

According to Gregory Berns' blog post titled "Neuroscience Sheds New Light on Creativity", the brain is lazy and ultimately our past experiences have a dramatic affect on our current ones. Here is an example — because we attended a couple of meetings in a large ballroom set in theater-style with low lighting that were boring — we think that all meetings set in this type of environment are…well…boring.  

Dr. Kathie F. Nunley, an educational psychologist, cites that we need to attend to the physical needs of the attendee first, then create novelty at the meeting and third, allow for self-made choices. Here are some of her insights as well as a few of my own. 

PHYSICAL NEED

The attendee has to have their basic needs met at the meeting. Is the room set at the right temperature? Are the seats comfortable and is there plenty of personal space available for the attendee to put their personal belongings? Are you providing enough and the right type of food and beverage? Can the attendee see and hear the presentation? 

funNOVELTY

Nunley stated in her blog post, "The mind seems to gravitate toward novelty. Not only does a novel experience seem to capture our attention, it appears to be an essential need of the mind." Capture the interest of the attendee and make your meeting unpredictable. 

Put the keynote speaker in the middle of the conference agenda. Rent iPads instead of producing conference binders. Start with the Q and A and finish with the presentation. Stage the meeting room in a large circle instead of theater or classroom setting. Decorate the room like a party instead of a training session. Change the city, venue or time of day you meet. Have a meeting where everyone stands. Do anything and everything to "shake it up" so attendees do not say, "been there, done that". 

SELF-MADE CHOICES

Nunley believes attendee-centered meetings in an open learning environment allow participants to set their own pace, learn as they wish, when they wish and move on when a concept is mastered.

So how will this functionality transfer to a large meeting with thousands of attendees? Creating a Twitter hashtag for each meeting and asking attendees to submit questions and comments will help the event organizer and speaker to make changes on a real-time basis. Encourage presenters to go where the audience is, not what they want to present. Livestream the presentation so it can be viewed on an attendee's mobile device and a video wall display rental unit if the participant is called out of the room. 

If you are event planning in California, check out AV Event Solutions as a state-of-the-art provider in Total Technology Solutions! With offices throughout California, they are only minutes away to service your event with additional inventory, technical support and staff. 

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