In the age of virtual offices and remote work teams, hosting a meeting or conference that allows people to connect and interact in meaningful ways is more important than ever. According to a recent IACC “Meeting room of the future” report, 75% of meeting planners said that their role involves more ‘experience creation’ than it did just two or five years ago. It’s more than just organising a meeting or event – you should also consider the whole experience that you want your attendees to have.
So, what does it mean to create an experience? Well for one thing, it’s more than just having an agenda filled with expert speakers, interesting slides, panel discussions and Q&A sessions. It also means immersing your attendees in activities that covers all their senses - sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.
According to Dianne Devitt, author of “What colour is your event?” people only remember 15% of what they hear. However, the senses have over 85% recall. This means that when you hold a meeting that incorporates all the senses, you’ll have a lasting impact and higher engagement.
The best time to provide your participants with the full meeting experience is summer! Here are some of our top ideas to use the warmer weather to engage your attendees.
When it’s sunny out, it’s not surprising that your attendees would rather be at the beach than stuck indoors. So why not bring the beach to your next conference or working lunch? Serve fish and chips in paper packaging, have takeaway containers to make it easy for people to walk around and network, or add colourful beach chairs for attendees to chill out during breaks.
For something different and to make your next event memorable, surprise your guests with an unexpected summer treat, like ice cream, popsicles, refreshing fruit juices or mocktails and fresh fruit. You might also consider hiring a gelato bar for the event. It will help raise morale and inspire further creativity.
The quintessential summer activity – a corporate BBQ is a fantastic way to keep it informal and get guests mingling. For the health-conscious or special diet needs guest, make sure your menu includes lots of salads and other food platters so no one goes hungry.
According to the IACC research, 63% of respondents said outdoor space at a meeting was important. With this in mind, why not invite guests outdoors for a picnic lunch? Add blankets on the grass. Picnic baskets or picnic boxes allow attendees to enjoy lunch wherever they please and enjoy some sun.
Team building activities are a great excuse to get attendees outside. Plus, studies have shown that the act of moving and exposure to natural sources of light, like the sun can improve alertness and productivity. Encourage groups to go on ‘brainstorming walks’, or incorporate activities like mini golf into meeting breaks.
Other team building activities could include:
Certain smells can relieve stress and trigger happiness. For example, the smell of freshly cut grass, or the smell of popcorn can remind people of fun, carefree experiences.
Scent can often be overlooked when planning a corporate event, but it can have a surprising impact on the productivity and positivity of your meeting.
Try incorporating these summery smells into your next meeting or event to positively affect your attendees’ focus, engagement and productivity:
Music is an important element to any event, whether it’s a playlist, DJ, live band or performance. The type of music you choose can set the emotional tone for the event, prepare the audience for the overall message or even to introduce a speaker.
Pineapples, beach balls, flowers, beach chairs, picnic blankets, or a Hawaiian shirt contest will help complete your summer theme. You could also include an element of surprise to make your summer meeting more memorable. This could be the way food is served or the type of catering served, adding unexpected entertainment, music, décor or activities.
There is however, a fine line between delivering an engaging experience and being too distracting. Too few breaks, too many presentations, too little fresh air, daylight or the chance for attendees to walk around and network, having the wrong foods or providing not enough water can leave attendees feeling drained and dampen the effect of the overall experience. Consider using the services of an experienced event manager to help elevate your meeting from blah to wow.
We hope these tips will help inspire you for your next summer meeting or all day conference. If you need assistance for your event in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, speak to our corporate events team on 1300 851 900 and we’ll take care of everything for you from start to finish, including venue hire, catering, decorations, equipment and staff hire and more. For exciting summer catering menus, speak to the corporate catering experts at EatFirst.