If there is one thing those of us in the meetings industry know about, it is perception challenges. If you were to attend or host a meeting what would you think if they took everyone out on the golf course and said go play and learn something new about each other or a skill you can take back to the work place? Now, how would you feel if they took everyone into a room and gave you Play-Doh and told you to go play and learn something new about each other or a skill you can take back to the work place? Same concept but totally different perceptions, right? This is the analogy that Joan Eisenstodt of Eisenstodt Associates, LLC presented to the group at the February GOAMPI event. Play is as natural as waking up in the morning. We should not have to “sell” our clients on it and we should definitely not have to justify it. Whether you are fully engaged in play or just fidgeting (i.e. doodling) you are engaging your mind in ways that enhance creativity, problem solving and help you to focus, on a sub conscious level.
“Think Outside The Box”. How many times have you heard this before; whether it is for creating custom menus or program content for a meeting? Ms. Eisenstodt posed this questions to the group; why are meeting room set ups modeled after traditional grade school seating? This is not thinking outside the box at all. Everyone is sitting quietly in nice straight rows, taking notes, moving from one classroom to another (aka breakout sessions). It was no fun when we were in school and it is not fun at a meeting. You need to try to understand how your audience learns and then design the program to accommodate a variety of different learning types. For example, some people can learn better with white noise or music in the background. Others need complete silence. Some want a comfortable chair at a table to take notes while others prefer a casual living room set up while typing on their tablet. You need to try to mix it up to meet everyone’s needs. Perhaps consider having the main session in a quiet room with comfortable executive chairs and then go into self directed breakout rooms with bean bag chairs and iPod docking stations.
These different learning styles need to be addressed as well as how the content is developed. Some attendees may still find value and enjoy learning from a traditional Power Point presentation while others may be more visual and will absorb more from a presentation model known as Peckakucha. This follows a 20 X 20 rule. On the screen, attendees will see 20 images and each will change after 20 seconds (you can learn more about this at www.pecha-kucha.org ).
But what about ROI you ask? Consider setting the room with clusters of 6 – 8 at square tables to encourage interaction if your goal is to brainstorm and plan for the future. The outcome of the sessions will have great ROI if the stage is set to encourage it. If you are looking for play type activities with ROI, engage the services of a teambuilding company to help you find ways to add value to the program. Long gone are the days of beach Olympic tug-o-wars and raft building. Attendees ask for more now. Serving ice cream to terminally ill children or volunteering at a Veterans rehab center. These kinds of “play” will produce a win-win every time. Final quote Ms. Eisenstodt left us with – “Play is the highest form of research” Albert Einstein.
This post first appeared on www.goampi.org in February 2012.