Since the ubiquity of social media such as Instagram and Facebook, nearly everyone considers their perspective a valuable piece of the global conversation – whatever the topic might be. As our world continues to welcome a democratization of voices and perspective, the meeting industry is beginning to reflect this change as well. The days of one speaker presenting to an apt audience are slowly dwindling. Now more than ever, attendees want to be a part of the conversation. Not only that, they want to be an active participant in crafting the content that matters to them most.
So, how do we shift from the unilateral approach to meetings that has been the standard for most of our careers? Don’t worry too much – PRA has some ideas.
Involve Attendees Early
Give attendees a voice right from the beginning. When starting to craft the content of your meeting, give attendees the opportunity to add their ideas to the list. Create a survey which allows for open-ended responses to see what common themes can touch the widest pool of people. Often, we find that what the C-level executives think is important has no bearing on the mid-level employee. Being spoken to about something that doesn’t affect them can leave those employees feeling alienated and asking, “What does this matter?” By putting the content in the hands of the attendees, we can curb this response and have them engaged from the get-go.
Encourage and promote more networking and conversation by offering staggered breaks. Divide your attendees into groups and have breaks designated specifically broken among those groupings. Think proactively about how to promote networking during this valuable time – have your East Coast and West Coast teams break together; or Accounting and Marketing. You’d be surprised what conversations will arise!
Set Up to Move Around
During breakouts and coffee breaks, think about a room set-up that will cause the most participation between attendees. Allow for high-boys that offer a casual, relaxed station to stand while still participating with the general group. Angled couches and seating doesn’t offer a general flow of the room and can therefore close up conversation too – humans tend to group themselves by nature and we want to break this habit during the precious few hours we have together during a program. Further, speak with your top-level employees about participating in the general conversation during breakouts too. Often, this is the only time many employees will have the opportunity to spend with their leadership team. They value this time and many senior-level staff could benefit from hearing various perspectives, too.
Attending a meeting is one thing. Participating in a meeting is another. Work with PRA to design a program that is valuable to every employee, every time. Contact us today.
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