What does the change mean? How radical are the famous TED conferences, and how much are they influencing your meetings or thinking? There’s no denying the quality and level of thought put into the production and design of TED events. From colorful and imaginative seating arrangements contributing to interaction to stage presentations that mix live and virtual speakers, TED conferences stimulate attendees and excite event planners.
They haven’t changed the age-old structure of meetings; something pointed out in a couple of recent meeting industry blogs.
The same almost sacrilegious thought struck me while looking through some photos from TEDGlobal2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland, in July. There are the talking heads on stage, the people in their seats, clapping on cue: top speakers, time limits, intriguing subjects, but still top down. They’re lecturing about their issues.
Instead of planning the production of meetings, we need to start with the involvement of the participants. (Change the language from “attendees” and consider the impact.) How do our colleagues, associates, and clients feel about traveling to a gathering? What is their emotional connection? How do they want to engage with others? How can you involve them?
Rethinking meetings means ground-up work. You might be asking why: Your meetings might still produce results that you and your organization want. Will they be two or five or more years from now?
Innovation has almost become a tired word, but it does not mean simply refining, upgrading, or improving something already existing. Innovation means a genuinely new idea. That is rare and difficult—and worth thinking about and discussing.
Our new special series, “Rethinking Meetings,” explores these questions, presenting ideas from inside and outside the meetings industry, beginning in the February 2012 issue of Collaborate.