Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

January 21 2014

Why Just About Every Boss Should Be Worried

By David McMillin

There are plenty of reasons why top executives stay awake at night. They’re concerned about the bottom line. They’re worried about their competitors. They can’t predict what the next wave of technology will bring. However, the biggest reason they should be nervous about the future might be sitting just outside their offices.

“Seventy percent of American workers are not engaged,” Mike Walsh, CEO of innovation research lab Tomorrow, said at Convening Leaders 2014, citing numbers from the 2013 Gallup State of the American Workplace research.

The lack of engagement doesn’t just mean workers are looking for new job opportunities. It means companies are losing lots of money.

“This costs US companies between $450 billion and $550 billion per year in lost productivity,” Walsh said.

SEE ALSO: Employee Engagement Is Failing

Those Concerns Create Opportunities for Meeting Planners.

While these numbers represent big concerns for plenty of organizations, Walsh says meeting planners can use those worries to their advantage.

“Only 41 percent of employees know what their company stands for and how their brand is different,” Walsh said. “This is your single best chance for top management to take what you do very seriously.”

“You can turn your organization’s message into a powerful story,” he added.

Walsh believes that the story is what ultimately makes the difference between employees who get paid to come to work and employees who truly believe in what their companies are doing.

“The art of bringing those messages to life us what makes an experience truly immersive,” Walsh said.

SEE ALSO: Why Your Attendees Aren’t Connecting With You On Social Media

Stories Should Be Short.

Indeed, meetings can be the place where people connect with their organization’s mission, but creating those connections is not a simple task based on the expectations of an emerging crop of attendees.

“The next generation is your biggest challenge,” Walsh declared. “They’re high on tech, low on attention and more motivated by mission than by money.”

The short attention span is particularly important for meeting planners to consider as they design experiences.

“The reason we have a problem engaging the next generation is because their brains have been rewired from video games and Facebook,” Walsh said.

To help spur new thinking among the members of the audience, Walsh posed a simple question.

“If the team at TED were in charge of running your next meeting, what’s one thing they would do differently?” he asked.

Walsh told Convening Leaders attendees that Chris Anderson, the curator of TED, restricts his speakers to 18-minute presentations because a specific time frame makes them give real consideration to every second of the material.

“The key is finding a balance between brevity and stories that have relevance and real passion,” Walsh said.

So what would the team at TED have to say about your meeting? Are there elements that are too long and in danger of being tuned out? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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