May the Force Be With You: Why in-person meetings are the most powerful way to connect, inspire and learn

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings

In this era of webinars, video conferencing, podcasting, ad infinitum, the need for authentic, human-to-human connection from live meetings has never been greater. Indeed, with so much happening virtually, the power of real time people engagement is at an all time high.

We in the meetings industry, then, have an unprecedented—and I believe under-utilized—opportunity to create exceptionally memorable experiences and greater productivity for our audiences.

How? By tapping into force fields: that invisible, palpable , contagious energy exuded by thought leaders, celebrities and really anyone we care about.

After all, what’s more compelling: watching Oprah on a screen—or watching her live? Seeing him skate on ESPN, or shaking hands with Apolo Ohno?  And why do thousands line up in advance to talk personally or even shake hands with Presidents and CEOs?

No matter how much we go virtual, or maybe BECAUSE so much is now virtual, we still LOVE to be physically near people we admire, and who bring skills and insights we need to be more effective in this wild world.

We are wise to allow this Force to shape our own knowledge, excitement, and energy.

7 ways to Maximize your Meetings’ Force Fields:

Let’s look at 7 specific ways that you can maximize the force fields—and thus the energy and engagement—of your meetings: Between participants and guest speakers, among executives and employees, amidst team members. These ideas boost inspiration, knowledge and connection to a level that could never be achieved in an email or experience via Skype:

  1. Boost your “force field factor” considerably by scheduling a breakout session with the “larger-than-life” keynoter. Attendees will have a more personalized, smaller-group experience, and more powerful force-field exposure. Furthermore, most speakers offer a substantial discount for adding a breakout if it’s scheduled on the same (half) day as the plenary session; some will even include a breakout in the keynote fee.
  2. Immediately following the keynote, and before participants disperse, pair attendees and have them discuss how they’ll personally integrate the speaker’s recommendations—and encourage them to become “accountability buddies” who will check in with each other to monitor progress long after the conference ends. You’ll have a whole room full of force fields at work!
  3. After a speaker’s program, have an “up-close-and-personal” book or poster signing. This gives attendees the chance to come face to face with the speaker, talk one on one…and, of course, truly experience one another’s force fields.
  4. Take your book signing to another level: hold a pre-event contest through which attendees vie for chances to win an exclusive and intimate reception with the speaker/author. This creates an exceptionally memorable experience for participants, and builds more event buzz as people get motivated to enjoy a unique event designed just for them.
  5. Give attendees the chance to have their photos taken on-site with a celebrity keynoter at your event [making sure to confirm the speaker’s permission in advance, at the time of contracting]. Participants will always remember their time in his or her presence, and the photo will serve as a tangible memory of a rather intangible day.
  6. Integrate a talk show into the typical (and usually plodding and predictable) keynote+breakout+lunch+breakout meeting format. You’ll succeed at mixing up the agenda in a more engaging, memorable way….AND can invite your force field-producing speaker(s) on stage with employees, managers and executives for an intimate, authentic and on-message set of conversational interviews.
  7. Always be sure you choose a room for your event that is as small as possible…without being too small for the audience. That way, you create a sense of deeper intimacy and connection between the audience and those on stage—voila: easy-to-implement force-field builder.

Tell us about whom you find in YOUR next force field—and how the experience changes you.