If there has been one takeaway from the German Convention Bureau’s Future Meeting Space research initiative, it’s that meetings are not one-size-fits-all. The first phase of the research, which was released in 2016, identified six different meeting scenarios, based on projections of how business and social trends will affect how we meet.
The second phase of the research, currently underway, will illustrate all of the ways in which meeting attendees aren’t alike, either. The study is surveying how attendees behave at meetings, asking questions that look at networking and knowledge-sharing behaviors, as well as learning and participatory styles and attitudes toward the adoption of new technology.
One bonus of the study’s design is that is offers everyone who takes it an instant snapshot of their own behavior and meetings, as compared with others who take the survey. (You can take the survey here.)
Linda Nuss, regional manager for North American for the GCB, (bravely) agreed to take the survey and apply the results when she attended Convening Leaders in Nashville in January. Nuss shared her results — and how she used them to her advantage — with Convene.
Nuss scored only about half as much as the average respondent on questions that measured networking and the exchange of ideas — which was no surprise to her at all. “I am very much of an introvert,” Nuss said. She already knew that that networking was difficult for her, “but the survey verified it.”
Seeing her score, however, gave Nuss the “little kick” that she needed to do things differently, given the nature of her job, she said. “I made it my personal goal for 2018 to become a more effective communicator and networker.”
One of the steps she took at Convening Leaders was to sign up to be a mentor for a first-time meeting attendee. “It went really well,” Nuss said. “The cool thing about my mentee is that it was somebody making a career change” and who had a goal of eventually working in New York City, where Nuss is based. “We’re going to stay in touch,” she said.
She also pushed herself to strike up conversations with other attendees and agreed to be interviewed on camera. “I even attended the Guinness World Record attempt for the largest music instrument formed by humans,” she said. “For an introvert, these are all big steps.”
Nuss also considered the GCB survey results when she was choosing sessions to attend, like PCMA U, which included a lot of attendee interaction. She concentrated most of her time, however, on sessions that she knew were being recorded, based on survey results that show she is a visual and communicative (seeing and hearing) learner, rather than a kinesthetic (hands-on activities based) one. “I like to soak it all in,” she said, “When possible, I requested presentations and will be rewatching the sessions to really reinforce my learnings at PCMA.”
Nuss’s results also helped to validate the goals of the Steelcase Event Experiences Connection Lounge, on the convention center’s fourth floor, which was designed to provide meeting spaces that support a variety of attendee preferences, including private and semi-private space away from the hurly burly of the meeting. For Nuss,“It was a great place to sit and talk.”
When Future Meeting Space survey results are released later this year, they will help business-event organizers “modify the content and the flow of the meetings,” Nuss said, “to fit what works best for attendees.” Meanwhile you can take the survey yourself. If you do, please add your experience to the comments below. Did your results surprise you? What did you learn about yourself?
PCMA’s Education Foundation is sponsoring the second phase of the Future of Meeting Space research, conducted in partnership between the GCB, the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC), and the Institute for Industrial Engineering of the Fraunhofer Association (IAO).