Why Are Meetings Broken and Why Should They Be Fixed?
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Not for the first time, the “broken meetings” conversation was on the agenda at an event industry conference last weekend. W2W, which stands for Women to Women, is a yearly invitational conference for women in the event industry founded in 2004 by Joan Eisenstodt, chief strategist, Eisenstodt Associates LLC, Conference Consulting, Facilitation & Training, and Vanessa Vlay. It has followed an “open space” format since it’s inception, and began with a desire to do more than just talk, when it comes to improving meetings.
Though it would seem that for the vast majority of event planners it’s business as usual, a slow and steady beat of dissatisfaction has been growing for several years now heralded by research in adult learning, outspoken industry writers/bloggers and the emergence of a whole new set of event formats (unconferences, open-space) invented by do-it-yourselfers.
The W2W participants listed some of the reasons for our broken meetings as:
* Meetings are patterned after a flawed educational system built on a lecture/passive audience model that doesn’t meet attendee needs.
* Meeting planners do not have quality attendee experience as the main objective.
* Meeting planners do not take into account that attendees are often travel weary once they get to the meeting.
* Content distribution at meetings is redundant when people can just get the information online.
* The meeting planning schedule is an automated “train” with very little opportunity for flexibility.
* RFP forms train people to fit their meetings into a particular format.
* Planners, venues and speakers resist change.
Everyone was interested in talking about innovative methods to improve meetings. Though new formats, technology, hybrid events, etc all vie for the chance to be the ultimate fix, one W2W participant asked us all to answer the question, “Why does fixing meetings matter to you?”
The W2W facilitator decided to give each of us a sticky note on which to write our answer. You can see them posted in the picture above.
The answer, for me, drives everything I do with regard to meetings and events. I believe that meetings are evolving with or without meeting & event professionals. If we don’t start innovating soon, we risk becoming obsolete and that would be SUCH a shame, because creating the best environments for humans to share ideas and connect is a truly honorable profession that can change the world for the better.
Is fixing meetings important to you? Why or why not?
For more information on W2W, check out Building a Conference Together: The W2W Experience.
(Photo by Jenise Fryatt)