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6 more fresh meeting formats to powerfully engage participants

(A continuation of the blog posted immediately below)

To generate ground-breaking ideas for meetings, I first ask: “How will we engage meeting participants in ways that could never be experienced outside of this event?

This one question elevates and disciplines event design. It also generates engagement tools that are exceptionally suited for building more meaningful connections among participants and delivering content that makes long-term impacts. Whether your time slot is five minutes or five days, what makes meeting formats fresh and effective?

To expand on ideas for meeting formats, I reached out to author, speaker and cutting-edge event designer Jim Gilmore. In producing unique meeting formats, Gilmore, co-author of The Experience Economy, draws from a rich mix of footprints and techniques.

  1. Regiception: Participants typically use receptions to just connect with those they already know. Foster fresh energy and easy networking with a “Regiception”—a mash-up of your registration and opening reception at which attendees mingle and register to experience something truly new. Include food, drink—and a variety of themed activities, such as throwback board games, so multi-generations can play with and learn from each other.
  2. Small group? Savor a Lunch of One. Feed them both physically and mentally with a “lunch of one” as you give unexpected, welcomed quiet time. Each diner receives an envelope noting their meal location. The catch? You’ve booked a local restaurant for a table-for-one, alone. Each participant is asked to spend time over lunch recording what they learned so far at the meeting. Upon re-uniting, they share key learnings with the group. The power of remembering new insights is first in reviewing concepts soon after exposure—not simply returning to work with a folder on a hard drive or a notebook on a dusty shelf.
  3. Field of Teams: Whether everyone is really in a field, a ballroom or an otherwise-stale tradeshow floor, establish stations at which participants can have a distinct experience—something practical such as talking to a tech expert, or seemingly frivolous but fun, like writing a note to be sent off in a helium balloon.
  4. Power of Narrow Thinking: Don’t curse your long, narrow room. Instead, set up chairs to resemble the inside of a plane fuselage, as Gilmore has. Issue boarding passes (as name badges). Serve F&B on rolling carts down a middle aisle. Content = flight instruction!
  5. Meeting Outside the Box: Use spaces not normally set for daytime meetings: a rooftop; a revolving restaurant; a judo studio; a night club—at noon. Ask venues about useable space that’s never been used.
  6. Unlikely Pairs: Combine not-previously paired formats. Graphic illustration meets open space, for example. Avoid typically boring, droning awards ceremonies and elicit engagement-by-surprise by announcing a couple award-winners periodically as “commercial breaks” in your regularly scheduled content.

What’s your freshest, most favorite, or most effective meeting format?

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