Future of Meetings – New Opportunities For Learning

Topics: Conferences

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When surveying people about what they value about a meeting, the two most common responses by far are networking and learning.

I feel organizers of meetings (for the most part) do a good job of providing a solid networking experience for their event participants. Online social networking can help that experience, especially for new members and members that prefer to engage differently. However, learning is another challenge and needs a fresh new look in the ways we meet and the tools we use.

It’s critical to our future… and to organizations, that we meet this challenge.

Make no mistake about it – we are entering a time where our current education systems are not producing professionals ready to lead, organize, and create. It will be years before schools are reformed to change that. So, associations and for-profit organization – not schools – will be called upon to provide education where are schools are leaving off, but how?

Embracing New Ideas

At a recent event, the MPI Meeting of the Future series, experts in learning shared ways we can embrace new ideas and apply these to our meetings.

Joan Eisenstodt of Eisenstodt Associates, LLC, and John Nawn from The Perfect Meeting, in a two part session inspired us to encourage meeting professionals to think differently about their events. They said we should give more consideration to the environment, sensory experiences, seating, content and delivery. They asked why in most convention center and hotels do we walk by beautiful art and landscaping only to walk into a rectangular room of white walls with harsh lighting then to start meeting and begin learning? What about round tables, soft lighting, couches or allowing attendees to hold and touch objects or have work books? Why not get the attendees involved in the education rather than long-winded, one-way presentations?

Joan pointed us to different meeting formats that create unique meeting experiences, such as:

Embracing the Experience

Are you looking for ways to create a better meeting experience for your attendees?

John Nawn from The Perfect Meeting discussed adult learning principles. He said we need to involve adults in the learning process, leverage their experience and define clear objectives and outcomes. John said learning must apply to an adult’s work and their self-interest. Using the World Café technique, John led his audience through brainstorming ideas for meetings before, during and after the events.

Embracing Collaboration

Most of us believe the idea that we can get more done by forming a team…  that a team is smarter than a individual person. But how do we effectively make that happen at events? These meeting formats may help you inspire collaboration, creativity and sharing of ideas.

I’ve learned through small events like EventCamp – a group of innovators combining technology and collaboration with these learning approaches to help bring meaning to meetings. EventCamp style meetings are highly interactive where small groups of people work together and share ideas to the entire audience. They’re in a setting that is more conducive for learning (round tables, college like settings), and they are about trial and error. See the EventCamp headquarters to learn more and checkout EventCamp Twin Cities where collaboration was learning at the core.


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