Category: Eating at Meetings

07 Feb

THE Literal Roadmap to Kick-Ass Events

By Andrea Driessen Whether you plan large conferences or small team-building meetings, whether you are a full-time professional or an “accidental” planner who’s new to such projects, you know the experience must kick ass. My just-released book, The Non-Obvious Guide to Event Planning: For Kick-Ass Gatherings that Inspire People [Idea Press], is your roadmap to more engaging, results-driven events. Described as a “high-energy masterclass and brainstorming session all in one, with actionable tips to transform your event planning approach within hours,” the book also offers links to dive further into online content, to expand and deepen your learning. You’ll learn: Why some events change how people think—and others are immediately forgotten How to conquer distraction & generate true engagement How to handle logistics like a pro, with less stress What it really takes to uncover & book the most inspiring speakers What TED Talks teach us about events And more. Bonus for the Blogosphere: The first five blog readers to write to  with BOOK in the subject line, and include a mailing address, will receive their own signed and kissed copies.

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…

17 Jun

How the Hidden Science of Sensation will Enhance your Next Meeting

I’ve been reading a new book, “Sensation: The New Science of Physical Intelligence,” by Thalma Lobel. Many of her ideas and cited research apply directly to the meetings realm. In short, the book is a collection of insights about how our bodies and minds process information from the physical world. Lobel takes us beyond the obvious to realize that we can maximize and influence outcomes in conversations, negotiations, MEETINGS, and just about any life experience where we want or need to make an impact…all in unexpected, multi-sensory ways. For simplicity sake, here are just a few of her many findings, in snack-sized bites. For a deeper look, I encourage you read her book. WARMING UP TO F&B: Do you want a prospect or a meeting attendee to “warm up” to you? Be sure to serve a warm—not icy—beverage (and food, for that matter). Choose comfortable, soft chairs, too. In retrospect, these points seem obvious—and yet the possibilities never crossed my mind. Plenty of original research supports this concept. A WEIGHTY POINT: What if you need to ensure a particular agenda item is given enough weight, relative to other meeting topics and/or relative to how attendees may have been perceiving it?…

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…

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…

03 Jan

Eating at your Meeting: 4 Easy Ways to Boost Brain Power & Alertness

We all know the importance of healthy eating. Yet too many business meetings offer less-than-healthy—or downright unhealthy—meal and snack options. With so much time spent in meetings, that’s gotta change. Start here with four easy ways to create menus that boost brainpower, ensure content you worked so hard to design is remembered, and meeting attendees can fully participate. 1.     Feed the brain protein. When you want people to doze off, serve carbohydratezzzzz (muffins, cookies, soda). If you want them to be engaged and alert, pile on the protein: fish and chicken maintain energy (and red meat lowers it). Boost the brain with nuts, peanut butter, and other low-glycemic snacks and energy bars. 2.     Strike the white. Whether you’re eating a meal or a snack, avoid white sugar, white [non-wheat] flour, regular rice, and too many starches like spuds. And while it IS white, yogurt is a superb snack and perfect protein source. To satisfy the sweet tooth? Fresh fruit, naturally—and so-not-white DARK chocolate. 3.     Move it or lose it. When we move, we learn; the brain literally downloads information more effectively. (Wow—way to go, brain!). When in your event can you get people out of their chairs and actively engaged…