Successful Meetings Magazine and Janet Sperstad hosted a twitter chat about brain-friendly meeting design. Here’s a recap of all the questions and answers.
Question #1: How has technology changed the way attendees learn and how should #meetingprofs adapt their programs?
- Laptop open? User is less satisfied with the meeting & neighbor’s attention decreases by 20%.
- Different technologies produce different learning. Know your objective and the best technologies for achieving it.
- Tech makes it easier to extend the learning, whether sending materials before a meeting or sending follow-ups after.
- People can learn material ahead of time so that meetings can be used for interactive discussions.
- The brain needs time to digest info just like our body digests food.
- Technology allows learning in person or remotely too.
- Know your audience and incorporate the tech they are using into your event. Work with it, not against it! Use phones/mobile apps for live polling and crowd sourcing.
- I think we sometimes forget that the speaker is now changing how they provide content at meetings.
- The speaker now has to adapt their content to meet everyone. Not just the audience in the room.
- You’re seeing Q&A changing with social ambassadors as the virtual moderator.
- Using #snapchats or #FacebookLive for one-on-one with speakers.
Questions #2: How can #meetingprofs accommodate both tech-savvy attendees and those who prefer traditional classroom-style learning?
- Have signs on front tables: “Full Focus–All In” & back tables: “For those who use technology”.
- It’s important to meet attendees where they’re at while encouraging the use of new tech. Have a help/info booth for new tech.
- Make time for high energy & a time for quiet reflection, for input & output, for working alone & for collaborating with others.
- #MeetingProfs can accommodate both by asking certain questions during registration to help be more prepared on-site.
- Provide options for how content is shared & consider low-tech alternatives. Offer easy instructions & support.
- Some events have mentor programs for first-time attendees. How about a program for the tech-phobic?
Question #3: What can #meetingprofs do to reduce ambient stress in a meeting or event environment?
- Effective lighting, acoustics, biophilia, and ergonomic elements must be considered.
- At the IncentiveBuyers Conference, #LansdowneResort‘s ergonomic meeting chairs equalled comfort and less stress.
- Mask noise with darkness. Use pin spot lighting to draw attention from the brain & increase focused attention.
- Manage expectations. Inform event stakeholders that “it is what it is” & here are some options for working around the “noise”.
- Design meeting spaces for interaction & alone time. Ensure #reflection is honored. Serve “smart” foods for energy.
- People learn best when they feel safe, know the makeup of your audience & provide tracks & habitats that accommodate everyone.
- In my experience, insufficient Wi-Fi seems to stress meeting attendees more than anything else.
- Provide spaces/areas that allow for comfort – nontraditional seating, lounges, quiet rooms, etc.
- Proper acoustics. If attendees are expending all their energy to try to hear, you will mentally lose them.
- Room lighting, seating set up or provide a stress-free room at the meetings.
- At meetings we so often focus on the “networking” parts and not enough reflection.
- Visually distinctive room arrangement; tech-driven or eye-to-eye connection. Tables in back, comfy seating in front.
Question #4: What types of foods should #meetingprofs offer attendees for energy and mental stamina?
- Minimize white flours and sugars at breakfast. Lunch should be light.
- @theAlexPalmer wrote a feature “Brain Food for Meetings” last October: http://www.successfulmeetings.com/Strategy/Case-Studies/Brain-Food-for-Meetings/?cid=smtweet …
- I’ll eat the fruit & veggie dippers but LOVE smoothies as an option at events.
- Ideal when healthy bites can be tucked away for when individual attendees feel the energy dip.
- Protein snacks are great; however, remember our #nutallergy Some granola treats may have nuts.
- Good for you & for the planet- Think FLOSS: Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal, Sustainable foods.
- Serve chicken, fish, vegetables, and fruit. Work with your food service provider to create menus that give the brain a boost.
- @MGMGrand @StayWellMeetings has menus from @ClevelandClinic. http://bit.ly/2aWruG1
- Dried fruit, veggie or kale chips are great for snacks. Also, go #organic and #local.
- In our cover story this month, we discuss @Westin‘s partnership with The Juicery. http://bit.ly/2aDHEPv
- Water, water everywhere. Hydrate those participants! Get creative w/ H20 distribution/presentation. Invigorate with fruit infusion.
Question #5: How do you keep attendees’ attention during a long meeting? How do you schedule content, what delivery formats do you use?
- Other brain-engaging activities include building towers; playing Tic-Tac Two, a spinoff of the original game; and doodling.
- Consider the city/venue first. At ski resort destination, break up long education meeting by incorporating a ski break between sessions.
- Small group breakouts can be extremely effective! They facilitate a lot more discussion too.
- Create a time & space for both structured & informal social learning. Our brains are highly attuned to what others think/feel.
- We use silly putty and stretchy “hairy balls” from a kids store a lot.
- Breaks do more than add precious minutes to your meeting agenda. They can actually produce a more effective meeting.
- Activities are great…people love competitions and games too!
- Every 25 minutes or so you better move those participants bodies to keep their brains/ideas moving. Incorporate quick activity.
- Get attendees outside! The brain loves nature. The brain is a battery. Power it up. #biophilia.
- Give attendees something to fidget with. It helps some people focus. Play dough, legos, slinkies etc. are always crowd pleasers!
- In the morning, while the brain is fresh–deep sessions. After lunch? Brain, body digesting. Good time for reflection such as case studies.
- Welcoming virtual sessions in the afternoon. Provide guests the option to view in other locations.
- Diversify content & presentation types. A good mix of formal presentations, hands on workshops, group collaboration.
- Panels, fireside chats, brain breaks like coloring or improv session, move outdoors if possible & CSR projects.
- Active participation means asking participants to solve a problem, share experiences, collaborate in small groups.
- If sessions are going to be long, think how you can incorporate flexible seating & ‘chunks’ of learning/collaborating time.
- Offer interactive formats, avoid death by PPT, ensure attendees are actively participating rather than passively listening.
- Attendees have to move & feel that they are a partner in the learning experience. #collaboration
- Less about attention, more about quality thinking. Mind wandering creates ideas. http://ow.ly/Pfm5302ViC2
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