Experiential meetings "are not passive," says meeting architect Adrian Segar, founder of Conferences That Work, a company that designs and facilitates participation-rich and participant-driven events, and author of Conferences that Work: Creating Events that People Love. "They encourage people to connect and learn through interaction." Here are five simple practices that can lead to more experiential, and thus more effective meetings.
Make It Interactive
Meeting participants want to do just that -- participate. They want to be able to take what they heard from speakers and peers and apply it to their work and life.
By including a few simple games in your meetings, attendees will apply creativity and ingenuity, making the entire experience more engaging.
Keep It Flexible
Have your attendees move about and have conversations, and not sit in long rows listening to a lecture-style speaker. Today's successful experiential meetings are social and stimulating and lead to participation. Segar finds that learning is much more effective when it is done in small groups.
Allow Attendees Time to Digest What They've Learned
Packed agendas with only 15-minute breaks and 30-minute lunches are not ideal.
Consider sending your attendees information before the meeting starts to make the time they are together more interactive.
Include a Sense of Place
Compelling experiences provide a synergy between location and property. Incorporate the location the group is meeting in to create an experiential occasion with either cuisine, speakers, or pillow gifts that reflect the customs and culture of the area.
3. Appeal to the Senses
With all eyes on Toronto during the city's annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts staged a surprise four-day experience highlighted by a one-night "celebration of artistry and imagination in the heart of the city."
The event marked the launch of Four Seasons Pop Down, a series of immersive experiences that promised to bring the Four Seasons brand to unexpected settings all over the world, transforming unusual spaces and creating one-of-a-kind events and experiences.
For the launch of the Four
Seasons Pop Down, the hospitality
brand recruited chefs, mixologists,
and more to create a multisensory
Taking over a vacant retail space in downtown Toronto, the company's first Pop Down brought together a team of Four Seasons artisans from four continents, each presenting an interactive expression of their craft. Mixologists, chefs, and creative masters transformed a raw, concrete space into an unexpected journey through the world of Four Seasons.
Digital mapping, large floral installations, and a floor-to-ceiling herb garden were among the highlights. Eschewing the red carpet, guests -- including celebrities, business leaders, members of the media, filmgoers, and world travelers -- entered through an archway of draping orchids. Once inside, guests were treated to a global tour of tastes and aromas.
The Toronto Pop Down aims to set the stage for further unique transformations, one-of-a-kind experiences, and surprise locations where Four Seasons will "Pop Down" next.
4. Provoke the Attendees
Each year, in spaces specially designed to get attendees thinking, C2 Montréal inspires 5,000 decision makers from around the world to rethink the way they've been doing business. Created by branding agency Sid Lee and Cirque du Soleil, these three days of talks, workshops, brainstorming sessions, meetups, performances, and festivities have been described as "challenging conventions," by The Economist, and "a business conference unlike any other," by Harvard Business Review.
Clowns perform between sessions. Brainstorming is held in chairs 30 feet in the air. "Most of the event business, by design, is stuck in the 20th century. They operate on the principle of a monologue. They put someone on stage and hope to evangelize a crowd. That doesn't work anymore," says Richard St-Pierre, president of C2 Montréal. "Attendees are not visitors. They have a voice. They want to express themselves. They are participants."
At C2 Montreal, attendees
are active participants.
C2 is just that: a dialogue among thousands of participants. "We build a platform by which participants express themselves and create their own path forward. C2 is experiential, it is immersive, it is a connection between humans. C2 is the 21st century of doing things," adds St-Pierre.