Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

November 2013

Want to Innovate? First Get Rid of What's Not Working

By Barbara Palmer, Senior Editor

I need everyone to stand up and raise the hand that they write with” — that is the same hand you high-five with, and you have to go around and high-five 10 people. People love little stuff like that. We've done rock-paper-scissors. We've done conga lines. There are little things that, when you pepper them in throughout, people laugh, and some people think it's stupid, but they all participate. What that does is it gets their cognitive thinking going again. You talked about complacency, but some of it is physiology. The longer you sit, the more you fall asleep. The more you get [attendees up] and doing what we call kinesthetic learning, the more likely they are to engage.

You and your team conduct workshops all over the world. Do you adapt your techniques to differences in international cultures? If so, do you have suggestions about how to make those changes?

Knowing your audience — industry, level and age, cultural background — is key. What works with a Latin American audience may bomb with an Asian one. We do adapt techniques to take into account cultural norms. In an Asian group, we might need to be more sensitive to the respect for hierarchy and group responses versus individual ones. We have to adapt our readouts during exercises to accommodate that. Similarly, Latin American cultures can be more expressive and talkative. We build in more discussion time in those cultures.

That said, beware of stereotypes. It's a global world, and people in meetings now tend to come from all over. You shouldn't make assumptions; you need to ask someone about a group's makeup and their recommendations on how to best adjust your approach — that's safest.

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