We want to push boundaries and make it memorable. What happens next though? The Committee. The Committee who is responsible to the stakeholders. These are the people who will disrupt the learning (critical sharing of knowledge). Not because they mean to, or want to, but out of habit. The habit of meeting expectations by going to the known boundaries and not beyond.
How does this translate to your meeting? What starts out as a general session featuring an interesting welcome, inspiring presenter(s) followed by 'white space' that allows time to move between sessions and have hallway conversations is disrupted by jamming everyone who is thought to need to be seen or heard (sponsors, executives, others) until you have now over-filled the original time slot.
Then it is time to move from general sessions to breakouts or similar smaller sessions, which hold nothing but potential from a content and learning perspective. Then, learning disruption comes again as the over-packed general session runs over, the sessions are far enough away that many participants barely have time to get a coffee, let alone connect with any other guests, and it is into the session rooms they go. Rooms sometimes set up to enhance sharing and learning, often set in theatre, rows and rows facing front.
These sessions can be interactive and engaging workshops where you learn something, share in and maybe share your own knowledge and identify its relevance to you. Perhaps the planning group has even built in space and time to absorb the learning before moving on to either more learning, social activities or even (gasp) reflection time. These can be a highlight, that is when creativity, relevance and innovations can truly begin to spring, given some nurturing.
Start with learning objectives and an interesting format, add in good leaders and you have nothing but opportunity to create repeat attendees. Creative learning in free flow.
Without even continuing this discussion into social events - offering more opportunities to inspire discussion, or spiral into a morass of speeches, presentations and loud music, consider how we are working with our clients to bring out the most potential in their meeting and avoid the disruptions. How are you guiding your clients to maximizing potential?