In your meeting sessions, you want attendees who are engaged, inspired, emboldened to use their creativity, and actively participating in the discussion. To do this, it’s imperative you move beyond the humdrum traditional lecturing carried out by a few key individuals. Instead, select and structure meeting sessions in a format that encourages all participants to become a part of the conversation.You can find our Free Webinar about New Technology for Impactful & Decisive Meetings for even more information.
But how do you do that?
With event tech and a flair for the creative.
Here’s what you need to know and nine actionable ideas to inspire your efforts.
9 Creative Formats for More Effective Meetings
How you structure your session formats can go a long way in making your meetings more effective, interactive and productive. You want to ensure that information excites the audience and is not being conveyed passively.
Evenium’s technology can help empower meeting attendees by enhancing interactivity and engaging them throughout each session. Here are a few creative meeting formats and tech suggestions to improve engagement.
1. Dare to Ask Session
Otherwise known as an Ask Me Anything session, this session’s content is purely based on what the audience asks on the subject. This format begs for engagement and conveys to the audience that questions are important, not something relegated to the last few minutes of the session. During a meeting, most attendees have questions but some may be reluctant to ask them. This type of open session promotes inspiration, along with networking and brainstorming among participants. If you find a fun way of asking questions using tech, you might just be surprised how much participation you garner.
Tech idea: One of our clients asked the audience through the ConnexMe App what topic of discussion they were most interested in. Once they voted, results were made available in real-time and the presenter spoke to the audience’s interests. Now that’s a crowdsourced curriculum!
2. Open Space or Self-Steering Session
This type of meeting is similar to the above in that the agenda is framed during the session by participants but it’s less question-based. The audience decides what it wants to learn and the presenter takes it from there. It champions the type of interaction that you might get during a coffee break, which is often when the most interesting topics are addressed.
Tech idea: Follow the suggestion above of asking the audience for topic ideas then encourage them to continue to shape the conversation through sharing questions and comments electronically, on the screen so that everyone can see and understand the discussion.
3. Fishbowl Session
A small group of participants gets together in a circle while those outside the “fishbowl” listen to what they are discussing. When those on the outside have something to contribute, they can replace someone in the fishbowl. You can also include the audience virtually through tech.
Tech idea: With an app like ConnexMe, meeting organizers can provide attendees with live audio streaming. This means no matter where they are at the meeting they can continue to be part of (or monitor) the discussion, even if they have to leave the room for a moment.
4. World Café Session
Participants get together in small groups of four to six people and discuss topics around a “bar table.” Participants move around each bar table at their leisure, staying at the topics they find interesting and moving beyond those they don’t. Ideally, this sort of session would have a host, who takes notes of what’s been shared and moves the session along.
Tech idea: With a tech solution you could replace the notetaker with an interactive content stream that would allow for meeting attendees to catch up on the sessions/discussions they missed.
5. Pecha Kucha Session
During this session, participants review 20 images for 20 seconds each, brainstorming their ideas and solutions. Pecha Kucha was designed for participants to organize their thoughts ahead of time so they are prepared during the rapid-fire session.
Tech idea: This format was originally designed to showcase the works of artists and designers, where the visuals were more important than the accompanying talk. Today, it’s being used to engage and excite the audience. For additional thrills, auto-advance the slides so that the presenter must stick to the 20 seconds assigned per slide. This can sometimes create hilarious, or at least memorable, results when the conversation doesn’t fit the new slide.
6. Notes Day Session
Participants first gather in small teams in their department. Later individuals from different departments are brought together to share ideas and discuss challenges faced by the company. This gets everyone involved and energizes employees as they have a chance to solve problems they don’t normally hear about. Sets of “fresh eyes” can help in problem-solving because they are not hindered by departmental knowledge.
Tech idea: Make sure all discussions are captured during these interactive meetings. Sometimes it’s something you least expect that solves the problem or shines new light on how the challenge has been met in the past. A good way to capture these discussions is to allow everyone to make comments on the slides. Not only does it capture the thoughts, but if they are public, they can be reviewed later for a second look.
7. Flipped Learning Session
Learning material, typically in the form of video, is made available to participants prior to the session. By learning ahead of time, participants are ready to better discuss the material and engage with other attendees.
Tech idea: The material can be shared with all attendees by using Evenium App ConnexMe. This allows participants to digest the materials, make comments on the slides or video, and message one another about what they’ve seen. As the meeting organizer, you can watch the level of interaction as well through numbers of messages and comments sent.
8. Gamification Session
Gamification is a fun and motivational way to drive participation. You can award points for asking questions, adding to the discussion, voting, and any other activity you’re looking to increase. These sessions promote interaction, creativity, and friendly competition among participants.
Tech Idea: Incorporate gamified motivations like leaderboards and points that are redeemable for something after the meeting is over. If you have multiple sessions or a multi-day meeting, start the leaderboard or point counting over after each session or day. That way more people have a chance to get to the top of the board. Have a cumulative winner at the end as well so early leaders don’t slack off.
9. Experiential Learning Session
These hands-on sessions promote interaction among participants through memorable activities such as solving a problem in a team dynamic. It bridges the gap between theory and application. Experiential learning also allows participants to uncover a predetermined set of skills to achieve mastery. These skills can also be used to succeed at work. They are not random and it’s not something that isn’t conducted without design. It’s been proven that immersive experiences help attendees learn more than they would by simply listening to someone speak. This learning style also mirrors real-life experiences for employees.
Tech Idea: Since learning is the main goal of this type of meeting session, it’s important you capitalize on that by enabling solid interaction in a team dynamic. The ConnexMe app allows for public and personal messaging, polling to assess mastery after the session, and recaps that can be circulated in the attendees’ streams so that no one misses a valuable moment of the learning. You can also gauge the interaction to discover the most valuable learning from the attendees’ perspectives.
Why You (Really) Need More Engagement at Your Meetings
Most people assume event planners strive for greater engagement because it means the audience is paying more attention and they’re being entertained. By having an enjoyable time, they’ll be more likely to want to attend again.
That’s only part of it.
That’s a by-product, really. In the case of company meetings, that doesn’t even matter, especially if attendance is mandatory. What your manager or client will care about in these cases is productivity. If you’re taking employees away from their daily jobs and tasks, you better be accomplishing your learning goals
As Phil Gelhardt wrote in the article Three Reasons that Experiential Learning Boosts Performance, “Because participants are so personally invested, they’re forced to take personal responsibility for the outcomes…Experiential learning temporarily takes employees and business leaders out of their real world, allows them to participate in a visceral experience, and results in learning that is memorable. This cycle has the potential to boost performance and significantly change behavior for improved results with a long-term impact.”
That’s what matters to your higher-ups…results.
They want to see that the expense behind hosting meetings benefits those in attendance as more than just entertainment.
Audience entertainment may be the most visible form of engagement but it’s not the only one that benefits you as the meeting planner.
Engaging and inspiring participants during meeting sessions take some creativity. But it’s something your audience (and your management team) is longing for. By structuring your sessions in a manner that promotes interaction and experiential learning, they will get the most out of your meetings.
Evenium is here to help with its full-range of collaborative and organizational solutions. Contact us today for additional ideas.