How to Design Meetings for Team Learning

How to Plan a Meeting

Meeting planners typically design their events for individual learning. But as attendees grapple with how to facilitate real, enduring change in their organizations, a new idea is emerging: What about designing events for team learning, instead?

"Traditionally, teams from organizations attend a conference with a divide-and-conquer game plan, as they split up and attend as many different sessions as they can. The challenge with that strategy is that it's very unlikely any real change will occur when the one team member who experienced the learning returns to work. Will they share what they've learned from a session? Or simply pass on a PowerPoint deck?" author Betsy Bair writes in a two-part blog post for Velvet Chainsaw Consulting. "What if you flipped that model and designed conferences that offered learning aimed at improving team collaboration and changes back in the workplace?"

It's an interesting notion, and it just might work for your attendees -- if you plan your meeting in ways that support it.

For example, consider designing your education program into tracks. "Organize your concurrent sessions into problem-centric tracks that represent the biggest lay-awake-at-night industry challenges your attendees are facing," Bair advises. "This will help organizations identify those tracks/sessions that should be attended together, particularly those aligned with their desired business outcomes."

Also, rethink room setups. "Design the room layout to accommodate groups of four to six sitting together, which will help expedite and enhance knowledge sharing and change management preparation," Bair continues. "Encourage teams to split up in the room so they can each get different perspectives."

Finally, think about creating mini meeting areas where teams can convene in between sessions or afterward. "Create activation areas and zones where teams can meet up on-site to debrief and process the learning and ideas they captured that day," Bair concludes. "The more you support teams in helping them transfer their learning to the problems and challenges they're facing, the more your conference value proposition rises."

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