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Category: Gamification for Meetings

19 Nov

What to Do About Self-Absorbed Meeting Attendees (pay attention to them, among other things)

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster You could stage the best meeting the world has ever seen. But if no one knows, or not enough of the “right” people attend, all your efforts are for naught. We tend to view meeting engagement as something that happens once everyone convenes. And yet for a meeting to be a true success, we must see engagement as an integrated process that starts when you first reach out to potential attendees with initial, registration-boosting messages. The most effective strategy? I like to rely on an old-school marketing technique: setting my communication dial to “What’s In It For Me,” AKA WII-FM on a radio (or iPod!) tuner. Applying this to the meetings realm: What’s In It for prospective attendees to invest time and money in your event?  People engage with what matters to them based on their own self-interest. Nothing more—and nothing less. You could stage the best meeting the world has ever seen. But if no one knows, or not enough of the “right” people attend, all your efforts are for naught. Sound obvious? Not so fast. Turn away from this blog for a moment—and read your latest event marketing content. Examine the approaches…

14 Nov

4 Top Meeting Trends: YOU Figure Prominently

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster When you think about the future of meetings, what word or emotion comes to mind? I, for one, am energized. In fact, that’s the first of four trends I see on the meeting horizon: Energized. Brain science and meeting design are finally catching up with each other. In short: we learn less when we sit, more when we move. The meme in social media: “Sitting is the new smoking.” Yet most meeting rooms (and classrooms) are designed for sedentary meeting attendees, not active participants. This is changing, as we learn that exercise brings more blood flow to the hippocampus, leading to more brain cell growth. When we move our bodies, our brains move new information from short- to long-term memory, and we absorb more in less time. Another reason to move while you think: the body produces more protein as a result of exercise, which doesn’t just build muscle. Movement is also thought to produce new cell growth as our brains get more of what they need to function effectively. Wish I’d had known that when cramming in college—hitting the gym each day  sure beats trying to sit still for hours in the library!…

04 Nov

Are your Meetings Backward?

Better timing, better brains, better outcomes By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster I’m so enjoying speaker / author / happiness researcher Shawn Achor’s compelling new book, “Before Happiness.” Here’s one of the many applications in the book for us as meeting professionals: how to structure meetings to maximize our brain power. Most meetings are designed in such a way that first, in a general session, broad comments are made, themes presented, courses for learning set. Then, we break out into smaller groups for deeper education and application. These breakouts often end right before lunch (and long after breakfast), with exercises that require heady integration and deep thinking of all we’ve been exposed to for the last few hours. Often, the same keynote/breakout/cram session is scheduled for the afternoon, ending just before dinner. (Whew—pass the margarita pitcher, please!) Yet, as Achor’s book and research point out, our brains are least able to handle full-on cognitive tasks at these pre-meal points in the day.  He explains how, given traditional meeting agendas, “…the most critical plans and decisions are made when our brain glucose is the most depleted [i.e. right before a meal]. We are doing our conferences backward! Instead, if you are…

28 Oct

Tapping Show Business for your Business Meetings

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster You’ve heard, “There’s no business like show business!” But did you know, “There should be no business meeting without a little show business!”? It’s as true as Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of Lincoln. For fun, engaging ways to help participants learn and remember critical content, look no further than television, movies and theater. Effective pacing, lighting, scripting, staging, gamefulness and buzz-worthy cultural references—all elements of TV shows, movies and theater—are integral to successful meetings. Indeed, show business offers a veritable Treasure Island for meeting professionals. Many of my clients’ events are more akin to shows than meetings. By experiencing custom songs, company-themed games, educational contests, movie parodies and hosted talk shows, these audiences become engaged in content that keeps their attention—often at unprecedented levels. Pop-culture references fast-track engagement because they act as contextual shorthand, making your content cool and relatable. Infotainer and Speaker Hall of Fame member Brian Walter has written, produced and performed hundreds of custom games and other engaging meeting elements for events worldwide. For example, Walter produces a combination of The Apprentice and Shark Tank TV shows—he calls it Apprentice Tank. Whacky name, sure. Yet it’s memorable, and—importantly—within the legal parameters…

08 Aug

Engaging the Invisible Attendee: How to communicate key messages—even when you’re not meeting face-to-face

Engaging meeting attendees—live and in person—is challenging enough. Engaging participants we can’t even see—the virtual attendee—may appear even harder. And given how distracted meeting goers are these days, you’d think everyone is “invisible,” with heads buried in their phones and tablet screens rather than engaged in content on the large screen at the front of the room! Know this: the better we are as meeting professionals at connecting with “invisible” attendees, the more our meetings engage everyone, whether they participate in person or virtually. A surprising inspiration for “winning over” the invisible attendee? Television. With smart phones and tablets becoming as common as TVs, we’ve entered the era of “social television.” And I am not referring here to reruns of “Friends.” In fact, you have socialized with your TV if you’ve ever watched a favorite show, sporting event, video game or political event while Tweeting, Facebooking or texting to share the experience with others. This shift demands that meeting designers pay close attention to how we engage now with broadcasted content. Moreover, since high-quality meetings offer TV-caliber storylines as well as suspenseful, you-gotta-be-there experiences, the best company events must also be as compelling as anything offered on HBO, at your…

30 Apr

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. 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. Small group? Savor a Lunch of One. Feed them both physically and mentally with a “lunch of one” as you…

23 Apr

7 fresh meeting formats to powerfully engage participants

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? Focused: apply it to a specific subject to boost takeaways Flexible: caters to a range of skill levels, ages, audiences, topics Functional: Can stand alone or be integrated into the larger event. (The 20-minute TED format is crazy-popular because it can be inserted anywhere in an agenda. Or you can string together 20-minute segments to form the entire meeting.) Fun: people want to engage and participate, and the learning environment is relaxed to stimulate creativity With these “Four F’s” in mind, let’s consider meeting formats that engage attendees in innovative ways. What’s cutting edge today, in the same way that TED, Pecha Kucha and Open Space were once novel? Seven great options: Post-Program Pair-Up is a simple, powerful exercise I’ve designed to increase networking and the…

22 Jan

5 new & un-boring ways to open your event

Boring meetings begin predictably: Thank yous to sponsors, announcements of new leadership, a hello from the host city’s mayor. Of course, we all love sponsors, leaders and mayors. But what’s your audience thinking and feeling? That this is going to be the same old, same old meeting. They tune out before you can even get going. On the other hand, non-boring, engaging meetings begin with unexpected approaches that immediately gain people’s positive attention, build buy-in for your entire event and create unprecedented event buzz. Try these simple, affordable ways to open your event—and then let the Tweeting begin! Have a custom song written for and about your organization. You’ll create a one-of-a-kind moment in time that will be remembered long after the last verse. Need resources? Click here. Invite a marching band or drummers to usher attendees to and through your room. Your local high school or university will likely come at no or a low cost. Or hire the exceptionally talented Drum Café. In advance of your event, hold a contest for the best “year-in-review” commemorative video (or some other category that fits for your event). Then announce the winner by showing his or her video as the opening…

02 Nov

ATTENTION: Why you need to gamify your next meeting

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings What is your organization’s most valuable asset: Employees? Customers? Intellectual property? Leadership? Brand? I believe your most valuable asset is none of the above. Your ace in the hole is actually something more intangible, yet invaluable: The attention of employees, customers and meeting attendees. After all, to successfully recruit an executive, sell a product or stage a meeting, you must first capture someone’s attention. (Doubt it? Have you made it to this part of the magazine without thinking about checking your email, whether to have more coffee or what might be Tweet-worthy?) Getting—and keeping—the attention of audiences is the holy grail of our industry. And when you’ve captured people’s attention, they will be more focused, more able to learn, more likely to have the mental bandwidth and social willingness to collaborate and solve pressing challenges. So, what’s an exceptionally powerful way to create meeting content that’s worth participants’ attention? There’s actually an “app” for that: a well-designed game aligned with your meeting objectives. Participatory games, like meetings, teach us that we are all connected—and in the language of this publication, that we are all One+. Going it alone, playing “solitaire,”…