A Day in the Life of Robin Fritz

A Day in the Life of Robin Fritz

When asked to write ‘A day in the life of a monster’ my immediate thought was, ‘which day do I pick’? I’m pretty certain there is no such thing as a typical day for most people and absolutely certain that the word typical doesn’t exist here at Purple Monster.

So, here is ‘A Day in the Life’ that I picked from earlier this week. It’s certainly not typical and it’s not exceptional but it will just give an insight into what goes on when we’re designing, planning and delivering events.

0645 – Woke up at home. Now that sounds strange I know, but when you are bombing around all over the place and designing and running lots of events for different clients then it’s not always your own bed that you wake up in.

In the next few months we are running big events in 4 different countries, as well as doing the day to day running of the business, which foolishly is still 180 miles from my house.

0745 – try unsuccessfully to persuade my dog to come in from the garden.

0805 – dog comes in, in her own good time.

0830 – catch the train to London and deal with the emails en route that have come in overnight from the US, where we are about to run an event next week.

One of the really lovely things about this job is the variety and diversity of people that we get to work with. That meeting will contain people from North America, Canada and Central and South America.

I’m off this morning to design an interactive exercise for a particular session at a workshop in 3 weeks. There we’ll be working with people from Asia, Europe, America again and many other nations. Meeting and sharing thoughts with people from all over the world is such a privilege.

1030 – meet up with Alan who has come in from his home. Grab a quick pre-meeting coffee and ask the barista if the almond milk is sweetened. I wouldn’t normally drink almond milk but I’m trying to be a bit healthier this year and have cut out sugar for a bit.

They assure me there is no added sugar in the almond milk. They lied. There is. Re-order a black coffee and enviously watch Alan finish his breakfast pastry.

1100 – The session that we are here to design today is with Alan and two of our clients. One can only join a bit later so we decide to get cracking and see how far we can get before she is able to join.

After a couple of productive hours filled with laughter, conspiratorial whispering and some pretty agile pacing around the small meeting room to get our creative juices flowing we arrive at the bones of the exercise that we want to create.

1300 – break for a spot of lunch and to see what the sweetened milk situation is like in this cafeteria. It’s not great so I opt for a diet coke to go alongside my chicken, olives and humous. Apparently I’m getting healthier but i’d prefer a hot cross bun any day!

1330 – Our second colleague re-joins us and we collectively run the idea past her. Thankfully she loves it and not surprisingly has some great builds that will make it even more fun and relevant.

1400 – the third of our clients joins us for a check in of logistics and a detailed run through of the workshop that we are about to run in 3 weeks.

There’s a lot to think about and thankfully there is someone with us who knows their way around an excel tracker and we all finish the meeting knowing that we’re in good shape for the workshop and we’re all clear on the actions that we’ve all got to get after in the next week or so.

1500 – We now have to decide where to do the next meeting. It’s a video call on Teams to the US and requires us to have an internet connection. This is common.

So many times we have had to do calls in the car park of motorway service stations (not always successful) and less often tried to join calls on trains (that never works) but this time our friends here can find us a room and they graciously allow us to use it to call our other client who has now woken up in the US and is keen to catch up.

1600 – the call is done. We are slightly surprised to learn that because of the leader’s commitments we are now having to change the order of the meeting around. Just be aware of this if you’re planning a conference you may very well want to have the agenda nailed with 2 weeks to go. But things change and you have to be adaptable.

Our history as actors and improvisers does thankfully allow us to not be too troubled by the idea of switching the gala night around with the BBQ evening. Mind you, we don’t have to call the hotel and deal with all the logistical implications. Thank you, Greg, for dealing with that so artfully and without fuss. Impressive.

1700 – arrive across town and ready to board the train together this time back up to Leamington. We have an interview for a new role tomorrow and we both need to be there.

A bit of commuter style working writing up notes from today and then switching off for an hour and listening to a podcast or two just to recharge the batteries. Its about cricket. What better way to recharge the batteries.

1830 – Arrive in Leamington and pop into the office just to drop off some things before I head my way to the Airbnb that I’ve booked for tonight. After spending many years staying in hotels, this new trend for staying in someone’s home is really nice.

Almost all the places that I have stayed are lovely and tonight I’m greeted by an old friend. Mabel, the Great Dane is there when I reach my digs and I get ready to listen to my football team lose again before waking up to a busy and fun filled day tomorrow at Monster towers. I’ll just have a cup of tea before I hit the hay. I wonder if they’ve got almond milk?

If you want to get touch with any of the Monsters contact us here.



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Meet the newest Monster

Meet the newest Monster

Meet the newest Monster – I’m Hilary!

 

This week, we take a break from our tips and tricks articles to welcome our newest Monster, Hilary! And what better way to introduce her, than to have her tell us in her own words how she is finding life at Monster towers…

I recently joined Purple Monster as Office & Commercial Coordinator; my dream role to take me through to retirement (fingers crossed)… From what I’ve seen so far, in my 9 whole days in the role, is Purple Monster’s way of working is a breath of fresh air and a whole shift for me.

They seem to create a working culture which allows people to flourish and develop in ways I would not have believed possible – when I first started in the world of work, I was one of the lucky ones to be allowed to sit in a ‘no-smoking’ office – and that was in a Hospital!

I have worked in many admin roles, and also as a Trainer/facilitator for 7 years, up in Liverpool, first for a voluntary organization and then a Students’ Union

I loved my ‘Facilitator role’ especially at the voluntary organization I worked for – The Women’s Health, Information and Support Centre on Bold Street in Liverpool.

They had been a fabulous source of support for me when I was going through a bad time, and the payback was I got to go on a course to learn how to put training sessions together and deliver them.

It was great to see the women who attended the courses going through a sort of ‘realisation’ process, that they mattered, they counted, just as I had done.

Since then, I have upped sticks, moving down to Leamington Spa in 2004 – it felt like coming home.

I have had the same feeling since starting at PM. Finding out more about what they do has shown me that a new direction is always possible, and that learning, opening your mind to learning Soft Skills is one of those possibilities. Looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck into this new role.
I love reading – particularly Sci Fi and Fantasy – favourite Authors are Robin Hobb, Trudi Canavan, Sheri S Tepper and Julian May.

When I don’t have my head in a book I can be found relaxing with my cat and a sudoku or codeword puzzle.

My passion for Steampunk/Goth takes me throughout the UK attending events and is the perfect excuse to get all dressed up and meet like-minded people.

So if our paths cross in the next few years do let me know what you get up to in your spare time, as well as doing the business thing too of course. Oh, and please do call me H.

If you want to get touch with any of the Monsters contact us here.



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Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – The Summary

Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – The Summary

Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events

The Summary

2020 is now well underway.

With January now behind us, we creep ever closer to Spring and the re-emergence of those old favourites that we welcome every year.

That’s right, the predictions for what people are talking about in 2020 and what we at Purple Monster are concentrating on this year when designing events and conferences.

Over the last 4 weeks we’ve covered:

The environment and global concerns.
The pull for life-long learning
Consideration of diversity, equity and inclusion as authentic subject matter.
The desire to put physical and mental health on the agenda.

This week we give you the highlights of all these topics.

Giving you the opportunity to consolidate everything we’ve said and, as a bonus, you don’t have to read the other four articles. 😊

Here are the headlines…

 

Environmental sustainability

Everything that occurs in large-scale events has an environmental as well as a financial impact. With a more conscious approach to the planning of your conferences you can make huge reductions in those environmental and budgetary costs, with little or no visible effect on the delegate experience.

Our top tips

1. Take active steps to promote responsible transport options.

Ways you can reduce this impact:

  • Use systems to calculate the ideal location minimising travel for all your attendees.
  • Challenge the attendee list – the fewer people attending, the less travel. Can you do one main event, then a series of more local events to capture more people but reduce travel?
  • And finally – avoid people travelling at all – it is now possible to create highly engaging and interactive virtual events.

2. Provide alternative options to single use plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups.

Ensure single use bottles, disposable cups, plastic cutlery etc are simply not available at your event. Insist that your venue takes responsibility for this and make it part of your policy that you won’t book venues that use such materials.

3. Demonstrate steps to reduce waste i.e. remove venue notepads from tables, minimal merchandise.

  • Be considerate around what needs printing – can agendas, slides and information be provided on an app or website rather than physically handed out?
  • Ask your venue to remove any notepads or printed material from the rooms you are using.
  • Be thoughtful when deciding merchandise or giveaways. We are not saying ban it all together but do people really need another branded pen or stress toy?

10 years ago recycling was not that widespread but it is common practice now. So we can do it. Think about it next time you are planning a conference and meeting.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

We talked about the inequities we’ve all grown up with, and how despite our best intentions ‘to be good’ it is a constant challenge to ourselves and to everyone to ‘check our privilege’ and consciously take time to consider a new and more diverse approach.

Our top tips

1. Ensure all panels, speakers, contributors have diverse backgrounds and thinking.

Consider these questions when planning whose voice is upfront at your conference.

  • Have you consciously considered who should be on your panel?
  • Are various levels of the organisation represented?
  • Are you hearing from your suppliers, partners and customers?

2. Be mindful about designing sessions that include everyone

Consider the less than obvious:

  • How far are the distances between sessions?
  • Is there good access for people with mobility issues?
  • Are icebreaker sessions considerate of the introverted?

3. Food is important – Remember to respect peoples’ choices around diet.

  • Ask the venue to provide fresh fruit as well as other more traditional sweet snacks
  • Ensure there is always plenty of water on offer
  • Consider the impact of a ‘heavy’ lunch on afternoon sessions

 

Physical and mental health

We always say that our main job is ‘to look after the delegate experience’ from the minute they walk into the venue until they leave at the end of the day or week.

Now we cannot be made responsible for each individual’s mental health or indeed their physical conditioning but as thoughtful conference designers we do want to create an experience that will be beneficial to people in terms of their physical and mental well- being.

Our top tips

1. Try and do something that is physically energising without being exclusive to others

  • Leave space in the agenda in the morning and at the close of the day for people to fit in their own way to re-energize.
  • Offer a gentler alternative. Yoga or Pilates is a great way to start the day. It doesn’t suit everyone but for the less physically competitive it can be a great way in to physical wellness.
  • Always ensure that there is plenty of water on hand throughout the days (in a reusable bottle of course)

Factor in well being sessions into the design. As well as the physical, include mentally stimulating options as a way to kick off your days.
Look outside of the ordinary. There are wonderful restful options out there like Street Wisdom and Zentangle and TED talks. Think about Including these in your conference design; Either share links to them or base your actual sessions around them.

Lifelong learning

In our article we looked at the difference between training and learning.

Highlighting these key points.

  • Training is normally short-term and focussed on a specific goal
  • Learning is much more long term and the goals far reaching
  • Training is either a skill or information presented to a student to understand and practice
  • Learning is more about self-discovery than copying or repetition
  • Training normally focusses on improving understanding and skills required for your role
  • Learning is much more about understanding yourself as a person
  • Training programmes are often group orientated
  • Learning is a personalized experience
  • The article was not designed to decry training and trainers. They play a crucial role in maintaining and improving organizational and individual capability.

On the contrary, we are certain that the best way to facilitate learning is to have committed and passionate teachers and trainers, but to go beyond the immediate knowledge and skills requirement and look holistically at the development of the individual.

So this year when you are thinking about your next meeting or your next workshop or conference, consider how much time you are able to dedicate to your delegates’ learning.

  • Allow plenty of time for reflection, after any session. The temptation will be to move onto the next piece of content rather than allow people the time to reflect on what they have just heard or experienced.
  • Ensure that your agenda includes experiential sessions where your delegates can feel what it is like to experience the shift in mindset. Yes, the content is important but how people react and respond is where the learning happens.
  • Be open to change. It’s the surest way we can think of to ensure you might learn something new.

So, there you have it; our BIG items to consider when planning your meetings and conferences this year.

  • Challenge your own thinking
  • Consider if you can shake things up a little
  • Make it about the attendee not about the content.

And if you need a little nudge in a more creative direction, please give us a call.

Good luck!

Download our updated planning canvas or get in touch with the Monster team to help you!



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Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – Lifelong Learning

Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning

 

This month we’ve been focussing on subjects that we believe will be at the forefront of peoples’ minds this year and beyond. So far, we’ve covered: 

  • The environment and global concerns.  

  • How diversity, equity and inclusion is the way forward for fair-minded companies 

  • Physical and mental health as a vital consideration for both employers and employees. 

 

 

 

This week we are looking at… learning. 

 

  • When did you leave school? 

  • When did you finish university? 

  • When did you complete your masters? 

  • When did you stop learning? 

Let’s just think about those four questions again for a moment… here comes an entirely unscientific but factual survey:

Researcher: ‘Excuse me venerable and esteemed colleague could you answer some questions about learning please?

Me: ‘Of course, I’m always keen to help organisations find out about learning and its usefulness. And by the way what a politely worded question?’   

Researcher: ‘Just answer the question.’ 

Me: ‘Yes of course. Shall I ask my family members too?’ 

Researcher: ‘People won’t believe this exchange’ 

Me: ‘Perhaps we should stop it and show an interesting table….’ 

Ok it’s not a terribly meaningful piece of research but I bet you also have the same answer to the question in column 4. Of course, we never stop learning. We may not have been the best at school, we may never have been top of the class, we might not have a masters degree or any sort of qualifications for that matter, but does that mean we are incapable of learning? Of course not.  

In a recent interview, the performance coach and Mindset expert Dr Maurice Duffy was quoted as saying, ‘There is no such thing as failure. Only winning and learning’. I’m sure that’s an easy thing to say and to an extent it’s a relatively easy thing to understand and to teach. But when you consider that this advice was given to a world class sports professional who had recently been banned for unsportsmanlike behaviour and was attempting a comeback at the highest level, then perhaps we’d better listen to his advice. 

    When we first set up as a company in 1995 we were known as an experiential training company. In fact, we were called Purple Monster Training. In about 2006 we dropped the word ‘training’, not because ‘training’ isn’t valuable, it is, but because we worked out that what we now did wasn’t really training at all, but more like lifelong learning.  

    When we first set up as a company in 1995 we were known as an experiential training company. In fact, we were called Purple Monster Training. In about 2006 we dropped the word ‘training’, not because ‘training’ isn’t valuable, it is, but because we worked out that what we now did wasn’t really training at all, but more like lifelong learning.  

    So what is the difference between learning and training? 

    Training is normally short-term and focussed on a specific goal 

    Learning is much more long term and the goals far reaching  

    Training is either a skill or information presented to a student to understand and practice 

    Learning is more about self-discovery than copying or repetition 

    Training normally focusses on improving understanding and skills required for your role 

    Learning is much more about understanding yourself as a person 

    Training programmes are often group orientated 

    Learning is a personalized experience 

    Both are important and have a place in the corporate curriculum, whatever your role or seniority. In our experience, learning departments have ambitious goals and targets, which cover a whole host of development topics.  It may be the organization is looking to improve engagement, increase productivity; focus on agile working or building a more adaptable workforce prepared to undertake more individual responsibility.  Whatever the ask of the business, these are not topics that can be achieved through training alone. Most of the challenge is around personal attitudes and behaviour, mindset if you will, and the levers for creating sustainable and meaningful change lie more in individual learning and development, rather than only training for new tools. 

    So this year when you are thinking about your next meeting or your next workshop or conference, consider how much time you are able to dedicate to your delegates’ learning. 

    • Allow plenty of time for reflection, after any session. The temptation will be to move onto the next piece of content rather than allow people the time to reflect on what they have just heard or experienced.  

    • Ensure that your agenda includes experiential sessions where your delegates can feel what it is like to experience the shift in mindset. Yes, the content is important but how people react and respond is where the learning happens. 

    • Create sessions that might provide a little discomfort. Don’t let colleagues work only in their comfort zones but look for stretch and challenge. Don’t introduce panic or worry your colleagues unnecessarily but do stretch them.  
    • Be open to change. It’s the surest way we can think of to ensure you might learn something new. 

    This article is not designed to decry training and trainers. They play a crucial role in maintaining and improving organizational and individual capability. On the contrary, we are certain that the best way to facilitate learning is to have committed and passionate teachers and trainers, but to go beyond the immediate knowledge and skills requirement and look holistically at the development of the individual.  Inspiring teachers make a difference to all of us and those that can inspire us to follow a path of lifelong learning are to be most admired.  Training can sometimes feel like something we have to do and sits very much in the here and now. We need to get up to speed with this application and this system and we have to achieve this before such and such a date.  By comparison, learning is about developing fully rounded humans and especially those with the capacity to adapt and learn whatever the workplace of the future may bring.   

    One of the most popular and one of our favourite TED talks is Sir Ken Robinson’s talk ‘Do Schools kill creativity?’. Remind yourself of it again if you have a spare 18 minutes. Apart from anything else he is genuinely funny and his talk challenges our thinking around how we learn and why working only in a linear and narrow field of topics, kills our creativity and capacity to learn and adapt in adulthood.  

    And to close, here’s another very recent quote from Dr Duffy. And dare we suggest something a little cheeky? When you read this quote, then substitute the words ‘educational system’ for ‘corporate organisations’ and the word ‘kids’ for ‘colleagues’.  

    ‘Our kids deserve a better future. Our educational system is giving us skills for yesterday. Now we must focus on Friendships, Mental Health, Innovation and Creativity’. 

    Wow. That’s a whole other article.  

    Download our updated planning canvas or get in touch with the Monster team to help you!



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    Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – Health and Wellbeing

    Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – Health and Wellbeing

    Health and Wellbeing

    Hello again.So it’s 2020… How did that happen? About 5 years ago all the organizations we were working with were rightly looking forward to 2020 and doing their five-year plans. Quite a lot of them were understandably talking about 2020 vision.

    2020 Vision – What does it even mean?!

    At a pub quiz we were at recently, one of the questions was ‘what does the 20/20 in 20/20 vision mean’? Do you know? We didn’t. Well apparently, “normal” vision is 20/20. The test subject sees the same line of letters at 20 feet that a person with “normal” vision sees at 20 feet. So 20 /40 means the test subject sees the same line of letters at 20 ft that a normal person sees at 40. Got it? No? Me neither. So the word you’re looking for is …..anyway….

    This month we have been looking ahead into the new year and reviewing what we think will be at the forefront of peoples’ minds at work in 2020. And also how we are going to focus on these subjects when we are designing conferences this year and beyond.

    So far we’ve covered:

    • The environment and global concerns.
    • How diversity, equity and inclusion is the way for fair-minded companies.

    This week we are going to consider:

    • Physical and mental health as a vital consideration for both employers and employees.

    And next week we will be looking at:

    • How life-long learning both in and out of work is essential

    So let’s think about physical and mental health in terms of what you can expect at a conference where Purple Monster have had some influence in design and delivery.

    When we first started doing big conferences for BIG companies some 20 years ago now, the emphasis was always on experiences and getting people to do something rather than just be talked at for three days. Those principles haven’t changed but what is much more nuanced nowadays is the conscious thinking that goes on behind the experience that the attendee has at the conference. We always say that our main job is ‘to look after the delegate experience’ from the minute they walk into the venue until they leave at the end of the day or week.

    Now we cannot be made responsible for each individual’s mental health or indeed their physical conditioning but as thoughtful conference designers we do want to create an experience that will be beneficial to people in terms of their physical and mental well- being. So here’s a few pointers…

    1. Try and do something that is physically energising without being exclusive to others

    We once worked with an executive team who were very competitive amongst themselves and were a great bunch of people to work with.

    When we arrived at the venue we were told that we were going to start Monday morning with a five mile run, Tuesday morning was a ten mile cycle ride and Wednesday morning was a swim. Wow. Now we like exercise and understand that as a team they really bonded over this physical start to the day but I always wondered what it was like when a new member joined the team.

    Did they feel compelled to join in? What would happen if they weren’t a physical type? It was also rather exclusive. It didn’t mean to be but it was. If anyone suffered an injury or was dealing with any physical impairment then their place in the team was ‘diminished’ by their inability to join in.

    But physical well-being is terribly important, so it is always worth considering leaving time in the agenda for people to start their day in the way they want to.

    • Leave space in the agenda in the morning and at the close of the day for people to fit in their own way to re-energize.
    • Hopefully your venue will have one but if not, try and find access to a good gym. People like the gym and the benefits, of course, are enormous.
    • Consider planning physical sessions with a sponsor. Allow one team member to take the lead when planning a run or a swim or for that matter a cycle ride. And ensure that all levels are catered for.
    • Offer a gentler alternative. Yoga or Pilates is a great way to start the day. It doesn’t suit everyone but for the less physically competitive it can be a great way in to physical wellness.
    • Always ensure that there is plenty of water on hand throughout the days (in a reusable bottle of course)

    2. Design sessions that have mental well-being at the heart

    Recently we were part of a conference and the whole venue made it a restful experience. The venue planner had very thoughtfully booked the venue right on the seafront overlooking a beautiful Mediterranean bay.

    We know not every conference or meeting can be in such beautiful surroundings but this definitely had a gentler quality to it and we were assured by them that the rate was not significantly worse than for a swanky city hotel with all the accompanying urban expense.

    • Factor in well being sessions into the design. As well as the physical, include mentally stimulating options as a way to kick off your days.
    • Look outside of the ordinary. There are wonderful restful options out there like Street Wisdom and Zentangle. They take the same amount of time as a run or gym session and will appeal to the less physically inclined colleagues.
    • There a thousands of brilliant TED talks around well being and mental wellness. Include these in your conference design. Either share links to them or base your actual sessions around them.

    3. Appetite and Refreshment

    We talked last week around ensuring that diet and dietary requirements are taken into account. There are other considerations too though:

    • Ensure the venue and conference has ‘healthy’ snacks and that the breaks are not just a long line of people queuing for one coffee machine.
    • Carbohydrates can make you sleepy. Lots of fresh produce is a good plan.
    • Make breaks in the day significantly long enough to allow people to recharge their batteries. Don’t rush them back into session after a 30 minute lunch break because you have to let Kris have the full 2 hours for their strategic ideation presentation
    • We are not the arbiters of moderation and certainly are not advocating temperance at all of our meetings but please do consider the availability of alcohol throughout your meeting. Don’t have a Gala evening and then expect everyone to show up again at 0800 the next morning for Kris’s strategic ideation presentation. Plan accordingly 😊

    So there are just a few examples of the way in which we can impact the health and wellness of our delegates at conferences. It is also a responsibility as good humans, let alone colleagues and workmates to also keep an eye out for those who look as if they are having a tough time or are struggling with a physical condition that is having an impact on their health. We are not suggesting intrusion or intervention but please just continue to question and ask your colleagues if they are doing ok and be prepared to listen when they answer.

    Oh, and stop sidelining Kris…what’s the matter with two hours on strategic ideation?

    Do you want to make your 2020 events more conscious and mindful whilst not compromising on the engagement, fun and impact?

    Download our updated planning canvas or get in touch with the Monster team to help you!



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    Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

    Our predictions for 2020 in the world of conferences and events – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

    Inclusion, Equity and Diversity

    Happy New Year! Can we still say that on the 14th January? I hope so.

    If you missed us last week you missed a treat. Go on tell them… anyway it’s good to have you back and it’s good to be sharing our thoughts for what we think 2020 may hold.

    What is reflecting the zeitgeist? Come to think of it what is the zeitgeist? Well it’s literally the German for time and spirit as you know 😊 but the dictionary definition is “the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time”.

    So, in terms of business and people in business, what is the defining mood of our particular time?

    Last week we mentioned how conversations have started to shift to talk more about: the environment and global concerns.

    • How life-long learning both in and out of work is essential.
    • How diversity, equity and inclusion has become more than just a fad but a non-negotiable with forward thinking companies across the globe.
    • Physical and mental health is thankfully now in the mainstream too and is now a vital consideration for both employers and employees.

    About three years ago, two unconnected but similarly thoughtful clients and friends suggested we should look at Unconscious Bias. It was at that point that we were introduced to the wonderful book Blind Spot by Mazharin Banaji and Antony Greenwald.

    The brilliant sub-heading or subtitle of the book is ‘The hidden biases of good people’ and it set us off a’ thinking.

    Obviously, we all think we are good people and to a greater or lesser extent we all demonstrate that ‘goodness’ all the time through our actions, opinions and even personal thoughts. But what if we weren’t quite as equitable and fair-minded as we thought. Well, read the book.. follow some of the practices… take a Harvard IAT test.. and you will find for yourself just how ‘enlightened’ and ‘good’ you are.

    And please be assured that this is not meant as a gauntlet thrown down by the blameless, faultless, guilt free perfect beings at Purple Monster.

    On the contrary, looking into this work has thrown up our own doubts, biases, micro inequities and highlighted times when we have neglected to be as inclusive as we should.

    In a way that is the very point of considering this subject in the first place. Because of our history, geography and upbringing we have been broadly brought up in a time where inequities have existed in the workplace and where a ‘traditional’ look at the world is the norm.

    It is a constant challenge to ourselves and to everyone to ‘check our privilege’ and consciously take time to consider a new and more diverse approach.

    1. Ensure all panels, speakers, contributors have diverse backgrounds and thinking

    So we thought that we should take the same approach to planning meetings and conferences and apply this lens to looking at the way we shape our designs.

    We are very fortunate to work with some very forward thinking and high calibre people. The two clients and friends that we mentioned earlier are examples of this.

    One is a senior executive with a very large multinational company who has chosen to follow a D&I agenda fully and encouraged us to do the same.

    The other is a life force, also performing a vital role in a global company. Open minded, thoughtful, kind and the sort of teacher who we know we will be talking about as an influence on our lives for years to come.

    They come from very different backgrounds, are based in different locations and are scrupulously fair when planning events. They are ideal candidates to be on panels and to be strong contributors when running sessions at conferences and meetings. Yet we have seen them both take a back-seat approach to this and, in the interest of creating sessions that are more inclusive, instead encourage others to be the ones upfront.

    Consider these questions when planning whose voice is upfront at your conference.

    • Have you consciously considered who should be on your panel?
    • Do you operate a fair pay policy for speakers?
    • Are all speakers getting paid in accordance with their experience?
    • Do your speakers have a fair gender split?
    • Are various levels of the organisation represented?
    • Are you hearing from your suppliers, partners and customers?
    • Is the ethnicity of your speaker group representative of your workforce and supplier base?

    There is nothing that represents retrograde thinking in a company or organisation like a panel that is ‘male, pale and stale’.

    We don’t want to offend anyone by using that phrase but we do ask you to consider what is meant by it and what a panel looks like when it is populated by only one homogenous group of people.

    There is so much more that can be learned from people with differing views, backgrounds and perspectives. And if you plan speakers and experts in advance, then you will avoid any last minute rush for someone to ‘balance it out’.

    2. Be mindful about designing sessions that include everyone

    Many years ago we ran a session that required people to consider their sporting achievements at school or since.

    At the end of the session one of the participants approached us and said that the question was very hard for her to answer as she was in a wheelchair and had little access to sport when she was growing up.

    It was an example of not thinking in an inclusive way about the impact of our questions. We hadn’t meant to exclude her but because of our own unconscious sloppy thinking we had done.

    Thankfully in the time that has elapsed, participation for people with mobility issues has increased enormously and we hope there is a greater understanding for people who have both visible and invisible impairments. Our questions have altered as a result.

    Consider the less than obvious:

    • How far are the distances between sessions?
    • Is there good access for people with mobility issues?
    • Is the lighting in your room conducive to running a productive session?
    • Does the music really need to be that loud?
    • Are icebreaker sessions considerate of the introverted?
    • Ask people confidentially, during the conference, what adjustments would help make them able to contribute fully

    3. Food is important

    Ask any conference organiser to show you their excel spreadsheet of the different dietary requirements and your mind will boggle at the differences that people require when planning their diet.

    Some people have religious observances that need to be respected, some people have serious allergies, others have made dietary choices that mean that certain foods are excluded.

    Whatever the reasons there are many things that have to be considered when planning the food and beverages at any meeting or conference.
    Consider these possibilities?

    • Before booking your venue, really check with them how flexible their dietary offer is
    • Ask the venue to provide fresh fruit as well as other more traditional sweet snacks
    • Ensure there is always plenty of water on offer
    • Consider the impact of a ‘heavy’ lunch on afternoon sessions
    • Respect people’s choices around diet
    • Here we have provided just 3 examples of ways in which we can make our meetings and conferences more thoughtful but there will be hundreds more examples which we’d be very happy for you to share with us.

    Please tweet us with ways in which you believe we can be more inclusive when planning our meetings. @purplemonsteruk

    Starting with our investigations into our own biases and then continuing to make some of our decisions more conscious means that our meetings and conferences can all be a little more thoughtful and hopefully inclusive in 2020 and beyond.

    Do you want to make your 2020 events more conscious and mindful whilst not compromising on the engagement, fun and impact?

    Download our updated planning canvas or get in touch with the Monster team to help you!



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