Design Is in Everything — Why Not Meetings?



Eric de Groot is a meeting designer who co-foundered Meeting Minds, one of the first meeting-design consultancies, in 1992.

I began my career as an actor, and this lead me to a “eureka-moment,” in which I realised meetings, events, and conferences need to be designed, in much the same way as buildings, aircrafts, cups, and just about everything around us is designed.

My realisation came when I was asked, as an actor, to perform short acts at the beginning of a conference. I was expecting a conference full of intelligent and inspirational business people to be a fascinating place, but I found the opposite to be true. It seems no one was looking at what the meeting needed to do, considering the environment, materials, and parameters  — and using them to create an event that would achieve its objectives.

I have a life motto – “Let’s do things that make sense.” And right then, introducing meeting design made perfect sense, so I set about making it a reality.

Meeting design involves psychology, forward-thinking, and the know-how to manage people — plus understanding how a meeting can be engineered to achieve the organisation’s objectives. It’s a combination of business acumen, artistry, and science.

We’ve achieved a lot of success in Europe, helping a great many exciting companies, and now it’s time to internationalise and upscale our meeting-design service. A lot of my attention this year will be focused on a joint venture we have formed in Taiwan with Asia Concentrate, called Orange Gibbon, as we seek to bring meeting design to Asia. And we’re also looking to Ecuador as a base for operations in South America; these two regions are hungry for creativity, innovation, and improvement.

Looking forward, I see technology will bring enormous change to meetings and events. No one can predict the future, but I believe technology has much more to offer as a tool to enhance events. Imagine a time when we can monitor the inspiration levels of the people in a conference session and then use the data to make-real time design changes to the content to boost interest levels and create better outcomes. I’m excited about all the different ways of working that we’re going to discover.

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