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hat would your delegates do if they walked into a
conference room to be met with a man standing on a
stage in the centre of the room surrounded by chairs
and nowhere to sit?
Would they be confused? Apprehensive? Wonder if those
working at the venue hadn’t got the room set up completed on
time? Or would they simply be curious?
Some of those thoughts were rushing around the heads of MEA
attendees when the doors opened to Eric de Groot’s Meeting
Design Workshop. There was the Dutchman, dressed in jeans and
a smart jacket, standing on a stage with chairs piled all around him.
The co-author of a book on meeting design – Into the Heart of
Meetings – the Netherlands-based trained actor and presenter
said that if we calculate the return on investment of every single
meeting that is taking place in the world right now, 90 per cent of
those meetings should be cancelled immediately.
“Because ROI comes from what people do afterwards.
Meetings should be about behavioural change, and that happens
when you do stuff [in the conference],” he said.
de Groot told delegates to close their eyes where they were
standing and picture 10 green frogs sitting on a log on a lake.
“At the same moment five of them decide to jump. After that
how many frogs are still on the log? You may have said, of course
five, but that seems so simple, there must be something else
going on... The answer is there are still 10 frogs on the log
because making a decision doesn’t change the situation. To
change the situation you have to jump.
“And that’s what’s going on in meetings all the time. We make
decisions [within the meeting] and then afterwards we don’t do
anything. We as a meetings industry have to guarantee that the
people coming home from their meeting change stuff, otherwise
“Meetings should have an impact in the real world. This is a
virtual world here [in the conference room]. The real world is out
there when the meeting is over.”
Another key presenter at the conference, Siobhan McRay, from
Nandos Australia, who in 2014 has a $500,000 budget for the
company’s conference, told delegates that with such a huge
investment Nandos established its objectives for the conference
before doing anything else: “If you know your objective, you can
then understand what success looks like. It can then be measured
and, therefore, as a business you can understand if you received a
positive ROI,” she said.
The conference was book-ended by Nigel Collin who asked the
question: Is your conference too boring? Collin sited statistics
taken from micenet AUSTRALIA’s most recent independent
research on meetings which found that meetings should have
more participation to achieve greater outcomes.
To the question: What is your view on increasing interaction at
conferences? results were:
• Vital as it increases engagement, retention of information and
improves networking – 56 per cent
• Good as it maintains the attention of the audience and makes
the experience more enjoyable – 35 per cent
• Irritating and a distraction from the business purpose – two per
• No opinion as it makes little or no difference to the business
outcome – seven per cent
He left MEA delegates with the question: What are you doing to
keep your audience engaged? and asked delegates to think about
one thing they would change or action as a result of their
experiences at the conference. m
Eric de Groot says
have audiences they
should have participants.
Eric de Groot presented a fabulous
workshop on meeting design.
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