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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    Could you create your own ‘Festival of Learning’?

    Could you create your own ‘Festival of Learning’?

    Here, Danielle reflects on her week at two ‘ideas’ festivals and how that approach could be used to encourage self-driven learning in business.

    Rather than spend a holiday sitting on a beach, I went on a ‘learning holiday’. Eight full days attending two ‘idea’ festivals that were being held close to where I live. The first is the oddly named ‘How the Light Gets In’ (or ‘Who turned the lights off’ as it is known in Monster Towers!) organised by The Institute of Art and Ideas. The second was the more widely known Hay Literary Festival.

    I’ve always loved learning. Not always as much as I do now. You learn all the time working in a small business and so to take time off work to do some more learning may seem strange to some. Maybe it is. But as an advocate and practitioner of lifelong learning, who loved every minute of my holiday, I’ve identified five elements that these incredibly popular events do. I then wondered if they could provide inspiration for anyone looking for innovative ways to promote a learning approach in their organisation.

    Both festivals attract thousands of people each year for a combination of debates, talks, workshops, music and comedy. (Plenty of that in our company) They both have a slightly different emphasis, atmosphere and target audience but both still focus on what I would call ‘learning for the sake of learning’.

    1. They are open to all

    People from all different backgrounds, experiences and areas of expertise attend talks on Biology, Cosmology, Philosophy, the future of education, politics and creativity. Some people attending might hold a Ph.D in that particular field and are relishing the opportunity to hear from other leading thinkers. Others have literally no experience or knowledge in that field at all but are just there to simply hear about something new. Maybe learn a few things they didn’t know before or listen to a debate to understand the different perspectives on a thorny topic.

    2. Everyone creates their own learning experience.

    Sessions are scheduled from early in the morning to late at night. Sessions on different topics run at the same time in different locations. There are a variety of formats; talks, debates, workshops and hands-on sessions. Topics are vast and varied. You can’t do everything and every person that attends will choose a slightly different combination of experiences. You can go along for the everyday for the full week or for just a single day. Some buy tickets for individual events across the week. There is no set agenda or path. You are free to create the experience that works best for you.

    3. They focus on ‘event experience’

    Although most people attend because they’re interested in a particular topic or want to hear from certain authors or speakers, it isn’t just about the content. It’s possible to go to either festival; not go to any of the talks and just absorb the atmosphere.

    You could sit with a book in the Serious Reading room (as I did for a morning) or get a drink in the bar and read a book there instead (which I also did) (I figured wine in the Serious Reading Room would be frowned upon!).

    You could mooch around the various stalls or stands, pop your head into the ‘People’s Front Room’ and listen to a band for a while or just spend time ‘peoplewatching’ in a riverside deckchair. It’s as much about the atmosphere as the content.

    4. You are in charge of your own learning

    With my corporate hat on, I would say that any learning opportunity is only complete with an element of reflection, capturing next steps or action points at least. Not at an idea’s festival. People are left to learn what they want, when they want and how they want. You can apply what you want to apply and ignore everything that’s not relevant. Each session that I attended though, I did learn new information that I will apply. The tangible:

    • I learnt about MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) for example which I intend to investigate more.
    • There was recommended reading about Creativity and Purpose which I will add to my ever-increasing reading list.

    Others were less tangible.

    • I marvelled at how a seemingly obvious ‘correct’ position can have many layers of ambiguity and controversy which I only appreciated after attending a debate about where to draw the line regarding free speech.

    In all these instances though I was left to take away what was useful to me. The person sat next to me would likely have taken away completely different outcomes. And that’s the beauty of it. We weren’t told what we should learn. We shared an experience and then applied what was relevant to us. (though it is fair to say on at least one occasion, the only takeaway I had was that I didn’t understand a single word they were talking about!)

    5. The emergence of lifelong learning

    Throughout the 8 days I was in Hay, the overarching feeling I came away with was the importance of Lifelong learning. It gave me the opportunity to absorb new information, wrestle with different ideas and consider alternative perspectives. It does require the ‘learner’ to want to learn, of course it does, but similarly it is only effective because the content is interesting, the speakers engaging, the atmosphere relaxed and varied.

    There was space to take time out and reflect.

    There was humour as well and information.

    There was self-selection and self-reflection

    Taking these ideas further…

    I am personally passionate about learning and more specifically self-driven learning and I’m lucky enough to be involved with building our sister business The Alternative Business School which holds this type of learning at its heart.

    If this is a topic you want to debate, discuss and deliberate then please do get in touch.

    With the increasingly competitive landscape and the advantages for us all to be on a lifelong learning journey, then concepts like The Alternative Business School and festivals such as the ones held in Hay each year have a significant role to play.



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