Ever sit through a didactic (basically a one-way conversation usually served with a side of death by PowerPoint) presentation, in a dark meeting room… and within 5 minutes, your mind starts to wander? Next thing you know, phone or tablet comes out, and off you go into your own world. You suddenly emerge when you hear the clapping, presentation is over, and what did you get out of it aside from setting a new high score on Angry Birds?
It’s a New Year… time for a fresh look at how we can help guide content delivery at meetings to maximize learning, exchange information (otherwise, why even have meeting in the first place?) and make the event so memorable & engaging that it elevates your brand.
So as part of your New Year Resolution to host meaningful & engaging meetings, here are a few tips for your future programs:
- As in the lyrics of the Fall Out Boys from “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” — Light Em Up. That’s right — pretty simple, cost-effective concept with many benefits. Light brings energy into a room. So many options, from over the top “intelligent lighting” to gobo lights throughout that brand the room, to projected patterns unto the ceiling, to inexpensive LED uplighting that brings ambience and sets a clean & polished touch to your program (e.g. the notion of feasting with your eyes, in anticipation of tasting the actual food). The key is a partnership with a best in class audio visual company that is involved in the early stages of the planning to consult and make recommendations to the look & feel of the general session and breakouts. New concepts, equipment and ideas emerge everyday — important to have a partner that is on top of these trends, to bring the latest and greatest to the table.
- Cue in the Jeopardy!© music: integrate gamification into your meeting to lock in learning. Validate that content is being retained by your attendees. Simple way to measure is to incorporate an audience response system (ARS) to either poll or quiz your attendees. We can help design “game templates” that include the meeting theme & branding. This could also be done as a team building exercise, with the benefit of networking and forging relationships. Point being, it’s important to breaking the monotony of a passive meeting by switching it up. And don’t forget the trusty buzzer… there are so many inexpensive “adult learning” gadgets that can be integrated for effective results.
- Create hands-on workshops by presenting case scenarios to which newly learned information can be applied. Ensure that your General Session seating arrangement is conducive to breaking your audience up into smaller groups (rounds of 10 for example) with flipchart & markers. And always have a “report back” as a way for your participants to verbalize this newly learned information and repeat back in their own words (therefore increasing retention of information).
- If your meeting involves vendors to demonstrate training aspects through PowerPoint (instead of the hands-on approach), instead of putting them on stage and talk through a PowerPoint for an hour; try a vendor fair — where each vendor is provided a space with whatever needs they have to do demos in much smaller groups and drive conversation — resulting in much more engaged participation and personal experience. Competitive game elements can be injected to incentivize participants to visit all of the relevant vendors… and if training is mandatory, signature sheets can capture attendance by vendor.
- Integrating well-being & healthy aspects to your meeting to maximize the learning potential. For instance, select hotel chains have nutritionists as part of their core team to assist chefs in creating menus to energize the participants, utilizing “brain foods” and ingredients that will avoid the food induced coma — keeping your participants fully engaged. We recommend including fruit infused water dispensers, herbal teas and cold-pressed juices, as natural alternatives to caffeine. As for your breaks, how about carving out 10 minutes in the agenda for a yoga instructor to lead stretches, get the blood flowing and breaking up the monotony of sitting down — no special room or mats needed, just movements right in the General Session? Finally, in the era of “sitting is the new smoking”, how about integrating “standing stations” as the last few rows of your meeting room to incite alternatives that are more aligned to your doctors & nurses that are constantly on the go?
To maximize the above results, engage your meeting professional early (meetings should never be an after-thought) in order to have the time to identify enhancements throughout the agenda and recommendations to be injected into the program; finding the ideal hotel that will offer the “brain food” menus and ergonomic equipment (e.g. standing desks); in addition to making sure that the technical producer is involved from the start to align A/V equipment to expected outcomes. The above suggestions are budget friendly, so think big — and when you are able to achieve ROE (return on engagement), which directly aligns to the ROI (return on investment) of the program by having created a participatory experience, your attendees will feel inspired, engaged, and heard which will have a lasting positive impact with whatever next steps may be… whether it’s launching a new clinical study; training a sales force on a new product or any commercial engagement with HCPs. In the words of Benjamin Franklin: Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
Agnès Canonica, CMP, CMM, HMCC Global Director, Strategic Meeting Management, AHM
Born and raised in the south of France, Agnès has also lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Grand Case, St. Martin prior to moving to the United States in 1981. Working in the Life Sciences sector since 1999 on both clinical and commercial meetings, Agnès is responsible for the Strategic Meeting Management division at AHM – implementing, growing, and leading International teams and accounts across the globe for programs outside of Speaker Bureau.