If I had to pick one of the most disruptive conferences from 2012 in Spain, it would be the Event Innovation Summit . And not because I was the meeting designer…. 🙂 but because it was an event that placed the participant at the center, that created an effective learning environment using neuroscience principles. The main goal was to make an impact on the delegates: not just to surprise them with a spectacular setting or delicious food (which we also did) but to add value to their professional lives by providing them with relevant education, delivered in a way that would stick with them. I think that today too many events still focus too much on the logistics, forgetting that content is what really adds value.
This conference was organised by Grupo Eventoplus , who are on a quest to advance the meetings & events industry in Spain. Thanks to a very open-minded CEO, we were able to push the boundaries and innovate on many levels.
Here are my personal highlights:
1. Brain food: following the guidelines from Andrea Sullivan, brain researcher, the only food on the menu was healthy, organic and contributing to learning. For example, during the coffee breaks there wasn’t a single croissant, instead, lots of power foods such as nuts, yogurts or eggs, which give you physical and mental energy. Same for lunch. Bear in mind that in Spain we usually have a 3-course meal and alcohol… This time alcohol, sweet desserts and red meats were banned! And guess what? People loved it!
2. Starting the day with visualization exercises and doing a Qi Gong session after lunch. Want people to be ‘present’ and forget about their daily stresses at work or at home? Then using some visualization techniques helps delegates focus on the conference. Feeling drowsy after lunch? Some physical exercise (like Qi Gong, which is very smooth) will surely help!
3. Short sessions to optimize learning. There’s many empirical evidence that people have really short attention spans (even just 30 seconds, as this study found!). So why program sessions that go on and on for 1 hour? At EIS, most of the sessions lasted between 20 and 30 minutes. In this way, speakers go to the point and attendees don’t fall asleep.
4. An Innovation Lounge to encourage networking, including the Lego challenge. Because networking is one of the top reasons why people attend events, we made sure to introduce ample of opportunities for people to connect. We prepared both structured and unstructured networking, including plenty of games and ice-breakers such as this one in the picture. We included a Lego block at each delegate bag and a set of instructions: the NASA was looking for a new aircraft prototype and wanted them to design a new one. That gave delegates a fun way to interact and work together.
5. Highly interactive sessions, aided by tech (such as IML Connector) and non-tech tools (eg. coloured paper cards to vote). Interactivity helps getting attention, however, we just didn’t include it for the sake of it. Everything had a purpose and helped to enhance learning in one way or another.
6. ROI Point and Social Media Point: at the Innovation Lounge there were two ‘Genius Bars’ where participants were able to get free advice on social media and ROI during the entire day.
By the way, this conference was sold out in just 3 weeks, which shows how hungry people are for this kind of events!
And stay tuned because this year we’re putting together another Event Innovation Summit and its younger brother, the Meeting & Incentive Summit!
What are you doing to transform the industry? Would love to hear your examples of other cool events!