5 tips to break down barriers at your next event or meeting
From ditching badges to the space’s décor, small changes result in big difference.
Interaction. Engagement. Networking. Successful events and meetings are all about making connections. But how easily are the event planners themselves creating invisible boundaries?
Tearing down those barriers at your next event will help your participants walk away with long-lasting connections and noticeable professional growth.
- Get rid of name tags.
You know the routine—walk through the conference centre doors, say a couple hellos, then grab your badge (or worse yet, a Sharpie and a stick-on name tag).
But think about this: Have you ever caught yourself shaking someone’s hand without even asking his or her name? Did you give yours in exchange? Unfortunately, badges can create a plastic-coated barrier between attendees that can be nearly impossible to work around.
That’s why the Event Innovation Summit in Barcelona ditched the badges completely. Eric Mottard, Eventoplus director general, said of the decision, “The idea is that people really connect rather than awkwardly try to read a name when the other party is not looking. It is true you really do listen to the other party rather than try to spot a name.”
He found that people also tend to speak more informally to one another when you take badges out of the mix.
- Structure networking.
For many attendees, networking can be even more critical than the keynote. So, make sure you’re nurturing a meeting that doesn’t just encourage networking, but fosters it. Including a cocktail hour and food and beverage stations, as well as small breakout sessions, can all help structure networking. You can even designate an area for first-timers (who doesn’t want a moment to pair up before grabbing a seat?) for the first 30 minutes to help break the ice.
- Develop valuable topics.
Hosting a smaller event requires you to know your audience like the back of your hand. What are their needs? What challenges are you solving for them? Understanding these intricacies will allow you to intentionally plan valuable and shareable topics, rather than run-of-the-mill talks that your attendees have heard repeatedly.
Speaking directly to your audience’s needs will keep them engaged both with the speaker, and with each other. If your keynote is a yawn, attendees will be equally engaged in breakout sessions. But, dish out new and “aha!”-worthy insights, and your audience can’t help but ask questions and offer its own two cents.
To help achieve this, you’ll need personable, credible speakers who relate well in an intimate setting, rather than big overwhelming personalities.
- Go social.
Getting up the gumption to raise a hand or grab a microphone isn’t everyone’s forte. If you’re planning a Q&A session after your speakers, be sure to establish a social engagement plan, whether through a Twitter feed or a hashtag aggregator. Allowing your attendees to interact through their handles rather than being forced to pipe up in front of a roomful of peers means you’ll get more candid and thoughtful queries—and break down more barriers.
Having a social strategy in place long before the meeting or conference launches will also have the added benefit of creating more buzz, and therefore potential attendees and press around the vent.
- Find a creative Cavendish meeting space for rent
Even the space you choose for your event can play a part in breaking down walls.
The psychology team at the Meetology Group specializes in exploring human behaviour at meetings through psychological research. CEO John Bradshaw has said, “In terms of creative venues there is a huge amount of scientific research around what works and what doesn’t. Small groups, creative art, blue walls and green plants have all been shown to impact positively on creativity levels. But at the heart of group creativity is people meeting more easily.”
When you’re searching for a meeting space for rent, pay special attention to elements like flexible breakout rooms, refreshments, and creative design.
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