What is meeting design?

To put it quite simply, meeting design is the art of matching the form or format of a meeting to it’s aims and Meeting Designers are professionals who create the programme of a meeting.

I had the opportunity to attend a two day training course last week with mindmeeting and Conference Doctor to learn more about the craft, and not your average run of the mill training course either.

From the offset we were invited to lock into our creative minds. We were set homework to think of sensory ways of introducing ourselves (that’s sensory, not sensual people!), we met in the venue lobby rather than the meeting room and were asked to spend the first half an hour of the course walking around to think and scribe how the venue made us feel.

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When we got to the meeting room there wasn’t much sitting down either and virtually no powerpoint, with plenty of activities and group work over the two days which also involved washing hands, blindfolds and then finding places to hide just our heads!

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Our trainer for the two days was the captivating Mike van der Vijver, a consultant and brilliant trainer and facilitator with almost 25 years experience in the meetings industry. Mike co-founded mindmeeting with Eric de Groot in 2001 and, together with Eric has also penned a book called ‘Into The Heart of Meetings’.

I’m not going to delve too much into everything I learnt as I highly recommend you attend the course and wouldn’t want to ruin it for you, however, I do want to share some informative tips that I picked up over the two days.

“The most natural way to get people to do things is to do it implicitly, if you can change their behaviour then people will naturally do what you want them to do.”

“Think about how the behavioural aspects of a venue and space rather than the physical aspects.”

“The only way you can learn in this profession is by doing it!”

“Some things can only happen at the start and can only happen at the end, have confusion only in the middle.”

“Have your own sources of inspiration and develop your own vocabulary.”

“Things don’t jump in your head if your head’s not ready.”

“Make content hot – hot content is sticky – it has impact, it harbours a conflict and arouses curiosity.”

“If you give markers then people will show certain behaviours.”

“There are always challenges and there are always solutions.”

“Don’t put people in a situation where you cannot maximise their output.”

“Offer people an alternative that is more attractive than what they are currently doing!”

And my personal favourite “Something is only useful if you know why you have it!”

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Mike also explained the importance of creating a ritual at the end of a meeting. Rituals create things that feel like the natural thing to do, so we should create an ending that has a required action for people to then go away and do that feels natural.

What was my action from our ritual? – to spend the next four months making subtle changes such as placing markers and tweaking layouts to make bigger and more implicit impacts. Does that feel like a natural thing to do? I’ll let you know in October!

Until next time #Eventprofs…

The meeting design gurus are due to visit the UK again in the Autumn and if you want to find out more then you can contact Jim or Paul at Conference Doctor by email at enquiries@conferencedoctor.co.uk.