Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

June 10 2013

How to Make the Most of Face-to-Face Time

By David McMillin, Staff Writer

As meeting planners work to determine how to engage attendees, here’s a new place to turn for some inspiration: elementary school classrooms.

While adult professionals may not appear to have much in common with young students, Jon Bergmann, educational consultant at Flipped Learning LLC, says that learning boils down to one key question.

“What’s the best use of your face-to-face time?” Bergmann asks.

Bergmann has been using that question to help teachers create more powerful learning environments around the country. In Bergmann’s flipped classroom, students view videos or complete some additional assignments at home to help spark small group interaction when they’re actually together.

SEE ALSO: Scientific Proof for the Power of Face-to-Face

Flipping Your Meeting

Bergmann’s key question clearly applies to the meetings and events industry, too. While many conferences and annual meetings have relied on a steady stream of talking heads and Powerpoint presentations to help educate attendees, Bergmann believes that the old model is broken. The remedy? Flipping the session environment.

Rather than the traditional model of instructor-led hour-long sessions, the flipped model asks conference attendees to do a bit of homework -- such as watching a video or reading a paper -- prior to arriving on-site. Once they’re in the session, Bergmann says that the assignment fuels a much higher-level discussion.

“In the flipped classroom, the presentation becomes a conversation,” Bergmann says. “Typically, the people who are registering for conferences are very bright people. This model gives everyone a chance to share insights instead of listening to a lecture.”

SEE ALSO: How to Engage 2,500 Attendees

While some meeting planners may worry that loyal year-after-year attendees will be opposed to a new model of learning, Bergmann says that he has seen old and young attendees alike appreciate the change.

“People love it,” Bergmann says. “It gets everyone more involved.”

Flipping Your Presenters

However, there are still hurdles ahead of making the flipped model a success.

“The real challenge will be training your presenters to utilize the flipped model,” Bergmann says.

“When you have a renowned expert on a topic, he or she may struggle to figure out how much time should be spent presenting and how much time should be devoted to simply facilitating the conversation,” Bergmann adds.

Despite potential stumbling blocks, the flipped model is catching on with organizations across the country.

“Everyone has to train someone,” Bergmann says. “This is a simple idea that creates more opportunities in the process of providing continuing education.”

Get Ready to Flip

You can learn be part of the flipped classroom in action at the PCMA Education Conference when Bergmann joins the meetings industry in Denver. Register today.

Of course, you will have some homework. Watch a short five-minute video to help prepare you for the session.

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