With so many changes happening in such a short period of time it can sometimes be hard to predict what meetings will look like in the next few years. There’s sure to be a shift in the way we work to make way for new and improved technology that we can’t even imagine right now, but we do have a few trends that we know will be hitting the meeting rooms this year.
Meetings need to be worth their while. With four generations currently in the workplace, they have to be adaptable and serve a range of audiences. They need to have a purpose, an outcome and most importantly attendees need to feel that it was worth the effort to attend - particularly if they’ve had to travel to the event. We’re all time deprived, and whilst there is a lot of commentary about how meetings can be a waste of time right now, more often than not, a short, well structured and well-planned meeting can save an incredible amount of time and generate some measurable results towards your business goals.
Here at Lime Venue Portfolio, we don’t think virtual technology will replace personal interactions, we think it will enhance them. We’re social animals and thrive in each others company. Technology is a new and exciting way to add experiential elements to meetings and events. VR and AR have the power to allow attendees to experience things in new and exciting ways and take part in presentations and discussions in the most immersive way possible, creating a sense of connection and greater opportunities for really valuable engagement.
Technology is also influencing event venues with a new generation of conference halls popping up around the UK with purpose-built, flexible meeting spaces designed for networking, collaboration and active learning. Using data to establish what your attendees really want to gain from meeting experiences will also help you to personalise them.
Introducing an element of tech into your meetings doesn’t mean you have to go full on virtual reality consider other technologies such as digital brainstorming boards, iPad food ordering and social media Q&As to add a touch of variety to your agenda.
But remember don’t just use tech for novelty’s sake, make sure it brings real value to the content you’re delivering.
Healthier Food and Beverage
A conscious approach to food and food waste is a big priority for delegates and corporate event planners this year, including the introduction of smaller portions and locally sourced produce. Organisers are thinking more about delegates dietary requirements and food choices in an attempt to make food part of the overall experience. With our senses so closely connected to experiences and memories, exciting well thought out recipes and ingredients that stimulate the brain and body are sure to make a lasting impression. That’s why food is such an important part of a meeting.
A move away from plastics and single-use disposable have set the agenda of a more thoughtful approach to not just event catering, but every aspect of corporate events. Healthier meetings on all levels are on the radar. Meeting planners are booking accommodation at hotels with onsite gyms and organising activities like meditation or yoga class before meeting begins to reflect the needs of the modern corporate event attendee. Perhaps consider scheduling a morning run (optional of course) before your day’s events as a perfect way to help attendees unwind and focus in preparation.
As modern life becomes more sedentary expect to see standing desks incorporated into meetings and presentations which are said to encourage better energy levels and concentration and prevent the harmful build-up of sugars and fats in your blood.
The traditional meetings format is no longer fit for purpose. People are developing shorter attention spans and in response, meetings require more interaction collaboration and stimulation. Event planners are moving away from the static delivery format towards agendas reflecting more conversation, incorporating a variety of activities and multi-sensory experiences. Planners are also planning shorter breaks more often into the schedule and ensuring that there’s some flexibility in breaks and mealtimes. Expect to see more self-directed and independent learning to reflect all members of the team learning styles and needs.
One thing to remember is that attendees are giving up their time to attend your meeting. You need to give them something that they can’t read on the Internet or get from a webinar, this means giving them something they can’t get unless they’re physically present. You can’t smell, touch or taste the Web.
Think about TED-style talks delivered by presenters that attendees actually want to see and listen to. You can also introduce an element of technology to incorporate Q&A’s, live polling and gamification.
The meeting space is evolving. According to IACC’s most recent global Meeting Room of the Future report, 72 per cent of member venue executives say more planners are requesting changes in meeting space design. Venues are getting more requests for ‘homely’ settings, including sofas and comfy chairs, so it seems that making meetings comfortable, open and collaborative is an important trend this year. There’s also been a rise of bookings in non-traditional venues in secondary cities like Birmingham and Manchester.
Also expect to see a rise in unusual settings like treehouse, rooftops, galleries and museums and the U shape layout this year. More traditional hotels are also ramping up their offerings to meet these new expectations. Set up your meeting room to encourage discussion and creative thinking, think about the resources available to attendees and the visual displays. These are important because: they communicate powerful messages about what is valued by your brand and they help to build a culture of learning and development. The report also emphasised the physical characteristics that were most important to planners, which included bright well lit, spacious, clean, comfortable, modern and technically equipped, ‘fun’ spaces with great acoustics.
Think about how you can make resources and topics of discussion inclusive to reflect the diversity of attendees. Get attendees emotionally invested an ask them to co-create content and resources as part of the meeting agenda. As younger generations enter the meeting room. they don’t want to be programmed all day long. They want more time for networking and interaction. Time-pressed attendees will be attracted by venues that allow them to combine business with pleasure.
We all know the temptation of having our mobile phone near us and just having one more sneaky look to see if anyone has, WhatsApped, text, emailed or DMd us. The evidence is stacking up that the time we spend looking at our screens on our digital devices comes at a high cost to the quality of our thinking. Research has shown that just the presence of a phone or laptop in a group setting has a measurably negative effect on our focus.
Creating sympathetic guidelines around using technology in meetings means that though they might like it at first they can come to appreciate it and even see the benefits of connecting and learning from others around them without the constant distraction. No longer are they just passive recipients.
Social media should facilitate rather than replace meetings. From Meetups to Peloton, today’s consumers are moving away from individualism and towards “tribal” communities of like-minded, passionate individuals who can push each other to a higher level.
Sleeping is the new awake and is probably the coolest thing in the world right now. Leading sleep scientists are questioning the traditionally recommended 8 hours of sleep and suggesting at least 8.5 hours is more healthy. Scientists are talking about sleep as the new worker’s rights. As work is encroaching and affecting the amount of sleep we have it’s having physical detriments on our health and wellbeing.
There’s also something called “chronobiology.” You actually have genes that dictate whether you’re a morning person or an evening person. This means that people are more productive at different times of the day depending on their genes. Perhaps that’s why meditation is so restorative.
As more attendees focus on staying healthy, organisers will bring sleep to their venues in 2019. Instead of waiting for attendees to go back to their hotel rooms sleep focused companies are bringing power napping opportunities to offices to help employees recharge.
Having a quick nap maybe a little too much of luxury for every type of meeting, so consider incorporating break out sessions and networking lounges to maintain momentum and provide a range of activities to keep attendees engaged allowing for much-needed downtime and thinking space.
A big trend this year will be using online booking tools with a greater demand for personalisation. Organising group transportation for meetings has significant cost savings and gives you a greater level of control, also delegates feel that they are being supported.
Are You Experienced?
I know we say this a lot but attendee experience is key - with a range of generations and cultures attending events you need to ensure that all delegates are inspired and where attendees feel safe.
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