Help People Interact
There is continued discussion about the use of interaction in meetings to maintain the interest and attention of delegates. Chris Elmitt of Crystal Interactive reviewed the feedback of 4,867 of their delegates and published the results in June 2007 in a report titled “Inside The Mind Of The Delegate.” The results showed that good interaction could massively improve perception of an event, compared to any other aspect of that event.
In his summary Elmitt noted that for “Interactive Excellence” you needed to give interaction significant agenda time and commit to making it work.
The other key point about interaction was that many delegates want to network, to meet like-minded people, to discuss the ideas they hear and to generate new ideas in discussion. Typically events provide minimal networking during the day and most of it is relegated to the evening when delegates are too tired.
To help your attendees make the most of your event offer frequent breaks and mini workshops which help people to get to know others and breakdown barriers to communication. If you’ve allocated people to tables in your venue then ask them to sit at a different table after the break and not with people they’ve already met and that can also help the networking.
Workshops are a great idea for getting people involved and interacting. However, make sure that whatever you ask them to do is useful and can be achieved in the time you’ve allocated, otherwise you’ll have a bunch of annoyed and frustrated delegates on your hands.
Also make sure that what you ask them to do is clear. Provide a slide with the main points if it’s a big exercise. Alternatively make sure you speak slowly enough for them to take down what you say as notes. Then give them a time limit and some guidance on how they might use that time.
Finally, make sure that you warn them that they have 1 minute or 5 minutes remaining and finish as you planned.
Using Breaks For Networking
Whilst it’s useful to provide breaks for people to network you must help them overcome barriers to meeting people. After all some people are reticent, others are involved with the people they’ve brought or with the new friends they’ve made and others are flitting around like butterflies.
So give people a task for the break. So for example, at the coffee break say that, “you must meet up with at least 3 people you’ve never talked to before and listen to their business and give them one idea to improve it.” Or you could say, “go into the break go and find out one interesting thing about 3 people then come back and I’ll ask ‘x’ of you to share what you’ve found.”
As the Digital Age continues to apparently increase the amount we have to do, the will to travel to a venue lessens.
People can hold video conference calls or even hold meetings in virtual worlds such as “Second Life.” In fact we’re no longer limited to Second Life there are other massive online life experiences you can get into. And in all of them you can hold company meetings or public seminars. The only drawback of course, is whether your audience is on Second Life or its brethren.
Information exchange type meetings can use webinars, where the speaker can show slides and connect with the delegates through the Internet using specialist service providers like WebEx and Microsoft Live Meetings.
And there are so many free teleseminars floating around the Internet that you’d be unable to listen to them all before you died of old age. Teleseminars you put on should be aimed at your prospects and customers or your employees. And any telesminar should be knee-deep in providing an education.