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MEETING DESIGN IS THE ANSWER TO BORING MEETINGS MEETINGS CAN BE BOTH CREATIVE AND POWERFUL! THEY CAN ENGAGE AND EXCITE, AND THEY CAN DELIVER REAL VALUE.

Text by William Thomson, Spain

W

ay to better meetings. What is meeting design, and why do we need to rethink how we organize our events?

William Thomson has been managing events since 1996 and working as a Meeting Designer and Event Consultant since 2002. After university, he set up an event management company organising student graduation balls. Since then he has organised all manner of events for a wide variety of organisations, including Europe’s largest professional body and the largest Exhibition company in the World.

is covered sticks in the heads of your attendees, and we do that by taking the time to design the event, texturizing the content and being mindful of the environment. These three key areas have However, we shouldn't be too concerned, as one major benefit and that is that it tends to we have the tools to make our events better, to make your content engaging. So, put simply, add more value and to raise the bar. I believe if you want a conference where the content is Meeting Design is one of the best tools we have remembered in interesting and engaging ways and to prove that we only need to look at where you need to use some Meeting Design. we are now. 
And there’s more good news. Starting to do 
Well, a day out of the office at an exhibition some Meeting Design is pretty simple. When that generates one or two new leads is deemed designing the content in a conference, all you a success. A day at an exreally have to do is structernal conference where ture and deliver it while you learn one or two bits taking into account the ”Most meetings do not of useful information receptiveness of the do the simple thing matches many people’s attendees. low expectations. We are  
Where Meeting Design they are designed living in a world of low becomes slightly harder expectations and this is in deciding how much to do: support cannot last forever. It’s rearranging, reordering people to change not just external busior revolutionizing your ness events that are being content needs and what their behaviour” hamstrung by these low support you need to give expectations; it is the to your stakeholders, and same when we look at large internal meetings this is where Meeting Designers add most value. too. 
I’ve spoken to members of staff who tell me Q: What is wrong with the format of meetthat they often return from these types of events ings as we now have them? (picture the annual sales conference or staff Most meetings are designed to disseminate a lot away day) deflated and disillusioned. Annual of information. One of the worst ways to ensure conferences are flat, boring and often a re-hash people remember information is to disseminate of old content. Every event is about disseminat- a lot of it. In essence, most meetings do not do ing information with little interaction: we have the simple thing they are designed to do: support audiences and do not have participants. Guests people to change their behaviour. They fall at come back from internal and external network- the first hurdle because attendees are not ining events having networked only with the volved. Texturizing learning while approaching people they know. Put simply, most meetings are the meeting as a unique experience creates the boring. Meeting Design is the answer to boring right environment for learning. meetings. 
Our events have to be better. And this is where I Q:What would you do to make a meeting crebelieve Meeting Design plays a crucial role. You ative and powerful? can use Meeting Design in any meeting environ- The first thing to do is to actually realize that ment, but it is best used in a “conference style” meetings can be both creative and powerful! type of meeting and that’s because a confer- They can engage and excite, and they can deliver ence is (or should be) about learning.

Meeting real value for attendees and for their organisaDesign is primarily about making sure that what tions. We set the bar too low and both organisers 34

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