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plenary Into the Heart of Meetings + Top of the Lot UNCONVENTIONAL


‘The Audience Was Now in the Driving Seat’


In this excerpt from their recently published book Into the Heart of Meetings: Basic Principles of Meeting Design, Netherlands-based authors Eric de Groot and Mike van der Vijver describe the elegant solution they came up with for presenting a multi- cultural series of presentations in a short time frame without overloading attendees.


“W


e want the people who come to the conference to tell


each other about the proj- ects on school improvement they have done. And we want these stories to be attractive for everybody.” That was in summary the brief we received from one of our clients, who was thinking of


“perhaps a fair with stands of some kind, or a series of short presentations. The time slot is about two hours.” Hmmm. A fair or a series of short


presentations. Let’s see. The countries of origin of these proj-


ects were wildly diverse — from Belarus and Egypt to Turkmenistan and Den- mark. If we let participants decide for themselves how to deal with their pre- sentations, these would become equally diverse. Simply from the point of view of length, for instance. This could cause problems if the event was organized as a kind of fair. Likely as not the Nordic representatives would release the group in their stand after maybe five minutes, while people who first went to the stand with the Egyptian project might spend half of the available time there. We designed a format in which we


asked the project representatives to focus on the single-most important success factor of their project and to take along an object that symbolized this success factor. Participants would take a guided tour and visit a series of “micro-stands.” The micro-stands displayed these symbols of success in


24 PCMA CONVENE JUNE 2013


an attractive way, and people standing around could all get a good view of it. The project representative would explain the meaning of the symbol in about two minutes, after which those attending the presentation had 10 min- utes to ask questions. And then on to the next micro- stand, with the same format.


It was immediately obvious — and


little knowledge about cultures was needed — that with this diversity of presenters, not “guiding” the presenta- tions was a road straight to the edge of a cliff…. At the same time, simply asking people to present the entire project in five or even 10 minutes was almost an insult. And so we … narrowed down the possibility for input about the projects to the one most important characteristic, relieving the presenters of the burden of giving their audience a huge stack of information (with the consequent risk of information over- load). Instead, the audience was now in the driving seat, asking questions that provided information relevant to them. The presenters were given the opportunity to show pride in their projects and the audience could ask for further insights — whether positive or negative.


. For more information: mindmeeting.org


Excerpted with permission from Into the Heart of Meetings: Basic Principles of Meeting Design, © 2013 by Eric de Groot and Mike van der Vijver. Published by MindMeeting BV.


ROOM SET


A Lot of View


What’s more on trend than a rooftop venue? The rooftop space where the 2012 Herbalife Extravaganza held a party last October had 360-degree panoramic views of downtown Long Beach, Calif., and its sparkling waterfront, two dance floors, and room for 9,000 attendees. The “roof” was actually the imaginatively used 125,000-square-foot upper deck of a parking garage at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Cen- ter — transformed for the evening with lighting, four-sided bars, cabanas, and Herbalife’s logo projected on a nearby building. The space is available for events ranging from picnics to black-tie seated dinners. A bonus: drive-in deliveries.


For more information: visitlongbeach.com


PCMA.ORG


ART CREDIT


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