Sunday, September 23, 2012

Creative Learning Disrupted

We want to work with you because we want our meeting (event) to be DIFFERENT. 
We want to push boundaries and make it memorable. What happens next though? The Committee. The Committee who is responsible to the stakeholders.  These are the people who will disrupt the learning (critical sharing of knowledge). Not because they mean to, or want to, but out of habit. The habit of meeting expectations by going to the known boundaries and not beyond.

How does this translate to your meeting?  What starts out as a general session featuring an interesting welcome, inspiring presenter(s) followed by 'white space' that allows time to move between sessions and have hallway conversations is disrupted by jamming everyone who is thought to need to be seen or heard (sponsors, executives, others) until you have now over-filled the original time slot.

Then it is time to move from general sessions to breakouts or similar smaller sessions, which hold nothing but potential from a content and learning perspective.  Then, learning disruption comes again as the over-packed general session runs over, the sessions are far enough away that many participants barely have time to get a coffee, let alone connect with any other guests, and it is into the session rooms they go. Rooms sometimes set up to enhance sharing and learning, often set in theatre, rows and rows facing front. 

These sessions can be interactive  and engaging workshops where you learn something, share in and maybe share your own knowledge and identify its relevance to you.  Perhaps the planning group has even built in space and time to absorb the learning before moving on to either more learning, social activities or even (gasp) reflection time.  These can be a highlight, that is when creativity, relevance and innovations can truly begin to spring, given some nurturing. 
Start with learning objectives and an interesting format, add in good leaders and you have nothing but opportunity to create repeat attendees.  Creative learning in free flow.

Without even continuing this discussion into social events - offering more opportunities to inspire discussion, or spiral into a morass of speeches, presentations and loud music, consider how we are working with our clients to bring out the most potential in their meeting and avoid the disruptions. How are you guiding your clients to maximizing potential?

Friday, September 7, 2012

What Events can Learn from So You Think You Can Dance

I have been an unadulterated fan of every iteration of So You Think You Can Dance since the beginning, for many reasons. I can share it with my family, it has reintroduced the magic of expression through dance to a (jaded) audience, it has given opportunity to so many young people, and then it just goes beyond...

Here are some of the things I think event producers can take away from this show
  1. Emotional connections matter - between the performers, from performers to audience, from what is seen and heard to what is felt by the audience (yes we have the potential to create connections)
  2. Production matters. They get the video, the settings, the lighting, the sets - they are always right.
  3. Lighting designers - great, amazing lighting designers, are GOLD.
  4. Music sets the tone. Background, live, feature performance - it is naturally so dependant on the ambience you want to create, but always, always consider the soundscaping.
  5. Costumes - performers, staff, getting the attendees to participate in costuming (if you haven't seen it, there is magic in Diner en Blanc) - even adding a prop box - brings people into the spirit of the event. Consider it.
  6. Surprise. I have just blogged on the potential effects of positve surprise and we want as guests to be surprised, delighted, amazed when we attend events.
While an argument was made on a recent #eventprofs Twitter chat that perhaps we do often seek the ordinary -  I would argue, and it was noted that perhaps it is more relevant for meetings and tradeshows than "special" events, and I would argue also for the incentive events you want to create delightful surprise.  Let's use the lessons above and continue to create the special.

Creating special does not always require large budgets, but it does require thoughtful design, and let's continue to embrace and practice this.