Meetings unplugged: Chill zones

Every year the organization IACC publish a report on the “Meeting Room of The Future” in which they survey a good number of meeting professionals about…well, the meeting room of the future.

I had the good fortune of attending a presentation about the report during MPI’s World Education Conference in Las Vegas in June, where I got loads of new input, but what surprised me the most was the fact that the respondents had stated that they wanted more chill zones at their conferences. Let us take a look at these chill zones.

Information overload

These days we are all busy and stressed out – lots of meetings, lots of tasks, lots of people around us all the time. And just as we look forward to attending an interesting conference, we get even more stressed out about the program. When we look at it, it is jam-packed with presentations, workshops, networking sessions, and information overload, and though there are a few coffee breaks scattered out over it, we just know that these breaks will not even be long enough to check our E-mail or make a few phone calls (and those clients do not go away just because you are attending an event…dang!).

I know that those meeting planners are only trying to do good. They fear that nobody will buy a ticket for their event if it includes too much ‘free time’ – that people do not want to pay for nothing…which might have been the case at some point in the past, but today most people know that we all need a break once in a while in order for our brains to cope.

Deal with the stress and create chill zones

One way to deal with this issue is to create these chill zones in connection with the meeting space. This way, each attendee can choose for themselves if they feel like chilling or attending a session.

The chill zones (or lounge area, if you will) should be furnished with comfortable furniture in a quiet area at the venue. It should have lots of outlets for charging your mobile devices as well as access to refreshments. The furniture needs to be easy to be moved, so that each ‘chill’er’ can make himself comfortable.

Coffee break areas are not chill zones

It is important, though, that you do not confuse the coffee break area with a chill zone. There are some unwritten rules about what you do in a coffee break area: Grapping a coffee and going up to someone you do not know to strike up a conversation is allowed and encouraged.

Chill zones have to be without any form of obligation – if you want to meet people and make conversation, you can do so, but you are not obliged to network.

Do you remember to arrange for chill zones at your events (after all, you need to make sure there is room for it when booking the venue)?

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