I recently took part in a very interesting conference called the Meeting Revolution 2.016 – a conference where the objective was to learn how to take a break! Yup, that’s true…we took a break – or in fact, we talked about incorporating the break into our events, whether it be a 2 minute reflection break, at short meditation, or the opportunity to play your way through your meeting.
The conference took place at the Danish venue, Vilvorde Kursuscenter, whose General Manager, Ida Jørgensen, feels really strongly about making better meetings with better outcome and better objectives. And as you might know that’s right up my alley!
Following the conference, Vilvorde Kursuscenter launched an online blog magazine called Vilvorde Talks. The site is an online innovation lab created by Vilvorde Kursuscenter together with specialists and keynote speakers inside and outside of the meeting industry – all of whom like to challenge forces of habit and push the limits of the standard meeting to create better meetings.
And I am proud to say that I have been asked to be one of these specialists who contribute to the magazine.
So far, I have written a few articles about incorporating experience management in your conference, but since the magazine is in Danish, I thought I would share my knowledge with you here in English.
First of all, you might think: ‘Experience management…isn’t that something they use within retail? Well, it is ALSO used within retail, but since I work in the meetings and events industry, experiences within conferences (and the industry in general) was the focus of my thesis for my degree in Experience Management.
There are four prerequisites you need to meet in order to create an ‘experience’:
1. you have to put all five senses into play
2. it is not just a question of entertainment (not just communication to a passive recipient)
3. the participant has to be able to recount the event
4. it has to include a novelty or something unpredictable
Here are a few more details on each of these four prerequisites:
1. The senses
All of our five senses have to come into play, preferably throughout the entire event – from marketing to execution, and on to the follow-up. The intensity of the experience is directly linked to the number of senses that are stimulated. This means that you have to take lighting/aesthetics, sound, food, scents, and feelings into consideration when you incorporate ‘experience’ in your events.
2. Not just entertainment
‘Experience’ is not just a question of entertainment…on the contrary! Entertainment is defined by being communication to a passive audience whereas an experience requires that the recipient is an active and engaged participant – a co-producer, you could say.
A true experience has to be recounted in order to make it complete. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the recipient of the ‘tale’ gets the same experience as the actual participant. It is still a matter of ‘You should have been there!’ since your senses aren’t activated and you are just a passive audience when you listen to the ‘tale’. All of which we are trying to avoid (as of points no. 1 and 2).
4. Newsworthy/an unpredictability
An experience has to be newsworthy and unpredictable. This means that your participants won’t feel the experience if the setup of your conference is the same as always. The same experience does not continue to be an extraordinary, and you need the extraordinary in order to create an experience.
So, is it an experience to attend your conferences?