When you spend time and resources to bring people together in one place for a large meeting, you need to take advantage of their physical presence. Something more and different needs to happen compared to sitting in front of a screen. Senses should be stimulated, emotions triggered, and participants should feel the excitement of being part of something bigger than themselves. So make sure that you build relations between the participants in a way that would not happen if, for example, they held a virtual meeting or watched online presentations individually at their desk.
Large meetings designed to change people and embed a particular strategy should be engaging. You need to give your participants some space. A considerable part of a typical large meeting’s agenda speak only to the brain, but participants need more than that. They need time and space to reflect on what they’ve just heard in order to process the new information and form their personal opinion about it. Otherwise, they will quickly forget all the takeaways.
One way to digest content is to get participants out of their chairs and encourage them to talk to each other. The most brilliant people at a meeting are not necessarily those on stage – participants can often learn a great deal from each other if there’s a good framework for it. The interaction between participants needs to be process-designed and facilitated.
You need to find a middle ground here: the process has to be tight enough to avoid excessive, random chitchat and yet loose enough since you don’t want your participants feeling like sheep – being pushed in all sorts of directions all the time, with no opportunity to decide anything for themselves.
In addition, participants should feel like there’s something big going on here – you need to stir their emotions to engage them with the content. They should feel the excitement of being part of something bigger than themselves!
You may already have a rough draft for your next meeting. Just think about where your mind, heart and feet are going, and you’ll already be well on your way.