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Group Fun

When the Meeting Schedule Is Tight, Why Make Time for Play?

Tahira Endean, CMP’s recently published, wide-ranging book, Intentional Event Design: Our Professional Opportunity, gives readers insight into how participants respond to live events and the tools for improving those experiences. The 282-page paperback (also available as an ebook) is organized around seven principles of event design, covering everything from learning formats to technology integration to space flow. Here’s are some excerpts on creating events that are immersive and fun.
More excerpts from Intentional Event Design:
What’s Behind the Book
Where Does Data Come In?

Take ownership of how learning is delivered at your events. A very smart woman I worked with, Robin Jones once wrote, “Learning at its best is either disruptive, where it really makes us consider a new perspective, or actionable, where we want to leave and try something new or in a new way, as soon as possible.” She is right.

Designing for Idea Flow
So, how can we apply this to meetings? The actionable learning from this is to find ways we can use thoughtful meeting design to create the best opportunities for “idea flow”—bringing the right people together at the right time to come up with the best solutions to any variety of problems, and to not limit this to just who or what we already know but to use the power of the greater community. Face-to-face remains the ideal way to exchange ideas and move ideas forward as we can read and respond to more human clues—visual, aural, visceral.

In an event, when you have only hours for people to meet, interact, and leave with actionable takeaways, solving challenges your industry or organization face through conversation, opening these doors to discussion through play can be highly effective. Simply put, we respond to play, and we will invest our time to earn rewards, both intrinsic and extrinsic through play. We will try, fail, and try again in play. We will innovate and iterate because it is safe.

Create Advocates through Play
Adding great game design to a conference can enhance learning and connections. No matter who you ask, “education and networking” remain the primary drivers to attend an event face to face. When you add an element that enhances the sensory levels and creates more feeling of satisfaction in the learning and connections made to real-world scenarios you have a better chance to retain that attendee. Satisfied participants can become your advocates and you can more easily grow your event when you have raving fans telling others about it.

Sense-ational: Anticipation and Arrival
Use details of scent, texture, and visual elements to set the stage for overall memorable moments. When we approach an event, we feel a sense of anticipation built from the time we considered the purchase through the ongoing marketing, social, and sharing with our friends and colleagues.

On arrival, décor, including a strong entrance, set the tone. Extending the warm feelings of the event will come from the memories created throughout. Developing a sense of intrigue is an art, the frisson of excitement in the anticipation sets the stage in creating an openness of mind and spirit towards the event and what it may bring. As guests enter, they are at their most aware and there is nothing more satisfying than a gasp of delight from arriving guests to a space we have created! A great designer welcomes participants arriving with a sense of exploration and engagement with event elements. Post event social and follow-up photos that feature your intentional décor, educational, and fun elements will all build on the FOMO (fear of missing out) and generate excitement for the next event. Integrating elements that touch all the senses and activate the learning and connecting centres in our brains is explored in depth in the book.

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