Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Are you meeting the experiential needs of your attendees?

Ensuring terrific attendee experiences is an increased focus for meeting planners. It’s imperative to design an engaging experience for your attendees that aligns with their style of learning (during corporate retreats, for example, many companies implement a DISC assessments or similar personality test to assess employee personalities to facilitate a better working/learning environment.) The experience starts well before and extends until after the meeting, in addition to the on-site experience itself.

Traditional meeting formats --like a jammed packed agenda with a 10 min break and six one hour long Power point presentations—are super out-dated. Who can sit through that?  Attendees need the correct environment and space to digest and discuss the new ideas being presented.

A few strategies that I find successful include:
1. Distribute agenda and content ahead of the event. This allows attendees to have an idea on what will be discussed, and gives them some time to think about the topics prior to the meeting.  This allows the valuable face-to-face time to be used to discuss,
 debate, and evaluate what was presented.

2. Small breakout sessions help facilitate more meaningful, honest dialogue.  Attendees can choose the breakoutout topic that best resonates with them.

3. Group dinners in the evenings are a perfect venue for continuing the days conversations in a relaxed, casual atmosphere. The real team bonding and relationships are forged over food and drinks with 5-6 people.

4. Interesting snack breaks. Don’t just throw sodas and granola bars at your attendees. Customize the breaks to be memorable, and unique. Cool (or warm) lavendar scented towels coupled with a build your own old fashioned rootbeer float station.

5. Purpose-built networking activities. Trust falls and rope courses, move aside. Any activity—whether it be a wine blending, ziplining, or historical tour – can have great ROI. Providing a platform for attendees to continue the discussions, network, and forge relationships is priceless.  Giving attendees the opportunity to meet and talk with colleagues from other departments that they usually don’t have a chance to interact, helps promote cross functional learning and awareness.

How are you meeting the experiential needs of your attendees? I’d love to hear!