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23 Mar

The UN-Fam Fam: How a “Discovery Tour” goes beyond showing off a property to educate and inspire

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster As a meeting planner, you well know the value of seeing a meeting venue in person before contracting space. Yet with so much on your plate, can you really justify being out of the office for a day or more to visit on a fam (familiarization) tour? And as virtual reality tools begin to make visiting from our desks just about as real as visiting in person, I believe the fam tour must evolve. To stay ahead of the curve, the team at Suncadia Resort near Seattle decided to elevate the experience of the traditional “fam” tour and turn it into a content-driven, experiential Discovery Tour. –> Or what we can call the Unfam Fam. Sure, everyone had the chance to walk the luscious grounds, tour the meeting and sleeping rooms, dine on deliciousness and savor a short spa treatment. Additionally, planners gained insights on designing more productive, less-boring, and more active meetings that address the whole person: body, mind and spirit. They interacted with content and co-created ideas for staging more effective events in meeting spaces of the quality and scope offered by a location like Suncadia. That’s in part because the Suncadia…

11 Feb

3 games to make meetings more efficient and effective

We all know meetings can be extremely boring. After all, if you’re strictly relying on internal speakers to carry the weight of your meeting, some will be more effective than others at disseminating information effectively to meeting participants. Games, however, can improve meetings drastically, do much of the work and catch everyone’s attention. Games are fun, exciting, and give an element of surprise to meetings that make employees engaged and creative. Entertainment site Pocket Fruity mentions that smartphone apps like Draw Something and Words with Friends became huge hits particularly because they’re games that make everyday activities such as scribbling and writing words extremely fun. If you’re going to be a speaker in next meeting, here are a few ideas to make your audience more responsive. Trading Cards This game is very effective in introducing new employees to each other. If you’re an HR officer and part of your job is to make people comfortable with each other, introduce the Trading Cards game. It’s very simple. Just give each employee a piece of paper and make them create their own “player card” that includes their alias, hobbies, and unique traits of themselves. Once that’s done, ask them to pass the…

20 Jan

No Joke: Humor as a Powerful Engagement Tool

What if you could add just one item to your meeting tool kit and…boost learning, attention, trust, energy, adaptability, memory, collaboration, optimism, circulation, and lifespan; lessen fear, stress and resistance to change; and help build safer, more inclusive communities? You’d hold in your hot little hands the Swiss army knife of meeting tools, wouldn’t you? But what could possibly do all that? Humor, my friend. Humor. Think I’m joking? Ask the researchers. Ask successful meeting planners who make a habit of incorporating humor into their events. Or just read on. “Humor” in this context refers to thoughtful, strategic content that engages audiences on an emotional level and makes them laugh because it surprises and delights—in relevant, contextual ways. It’s not on par with comedic joke-telling, which is pure entertainment with no take-away value. Indeed, the capacity of well-placed humor to improve meetings is no laughing matter. For starters, “Emotion drives attention and attention drives learning,” found Robert Sylwester, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Oregon. Further, according to the nonprofit Information Age Education (IAE), humor increases memory and long-term retrieval, and can capture the attention of people who are easily bored and inattentive. It helps us be more…

13 Jan

4 brain-boosting tips for your next meeting

Guest Blog by Yvonne Szikla, founder of Events with a Purpose What’s the best way to harness all that brain power that shows up at your next meeting?  The folks over at Brain Research Advance Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) are trying to unravel this mystery, thanks to a $46 million federal grant. How we think, learn and remember provide the basics for optimizing brain power and maximizing a successful meeting. Brain-friendly meetings enhance learning by incorporating ergonomic principles from lighting (warm white light is best), to proper acoustics to comfortable chairs. 4 brain-boosting tips for your next meeting: Keep it simple The human brain has a limited amount of processing power.  Studies have shown that the average person can pay attention for approximately 20 minutes before starting to fade.  Something as simple as having participants stand and shake hands with each other allows the brain to take a break while increasing circulation and blood flow to the brain. Keep it Real Reconstructive learning allows participants to reconstruct, repeat, and recognize what they just heard – one of the best ways to learn something new. Keep it Brief Brain experts recommend a break after 1.5 hours of work to keep participants focused….

09 Jan

You CAN hear me now

Just one phone call separates status-quo meeting planners from exceptional meeting professionals. It’s what I call a Message Continuity Conference Call. And it’s a crucial component to events with multiple speakers. When you schedule this special call with all your outside speakers and your internal meeting message team, you get happier audiences and stronger meeting outcomes. Plus it’s simple, free and team-driven. How it works: Once you know who will take the stage at your event, particularly “outside” keynote and breakout session presenters, find a time when everyone can be on the phone together. (This often requires planning quite far ahead.) In advance, send everyone a short document in which you describe your meeting-message strategy. Don’t have a strategy? Call me and we can discuss how you can get one. During the call, your goals are to reinforce the most important concepts you want your audience to experience as a result of the meeting and ultimately create more message continuity. Give callers an opportunity to share their content plans, and ensure everyone’s on board with ways to unite and align messages for more impact. Invariably–in the simple act of conversation–themes and patterns emerge that you would not otherwise know about. Connections…