Preparation is half the work done. We all know. Yet, why do we forget this, when we invite others to think along? In group brainstorms (we like to call this off-line crowdsourcing), knowing what you need to know is crucial. Learn here how to activate a group, get the needed output, and build a community. Imagine…
Your attendees came from far. These are the people you do it for -the people that need to make innovation happen, and look for entertainment at your event. Do you get speakers? Or rather use the potential of the group?
With ModelMinds we share our lessons so you can do better. If you involve share/stakeholders we recommend:
1. Know Why You Do It
In group brainstorms it is crucial to think about the output upfront. First, meeting without a purpose is often a waste of potential, as you miss other opportunities to make a difference or generate business. Second, it is not fair to ask for someone’s time, energy, and other resources, if you do not make the effort to be prepared. Are you taking this person seriously? Do you really want this? Are you sure? Third, you can only do a proper preparation if you know what you need to know. Clarity here brings the invited people a coherent story and event experience.
What is the need for yourself and the world? What is the question or issue that demands a solution and action? Why do you choose to get together?
2. Know Who to Invite
Depending on your goals for the conference, it is always wise to carefully select your people. Yet, remember that whoever comes is the right people. After all, they happened to be interested. They either feel frustrated and want to get rid of this or get energized with the opportunity you give them to share their ideas. Whatever the reason however, you know one thing: they felt it was important enough to help you in your quest. And that is cool. Be smart and use the energy that is in the group constructively. More energy can be generated with a diverse group of people. The more varied the frame of references are, the more wisdom is included in your vision or solution.
Who are the right people? What different perspectives do I need for the output I want? Who are this theme’s friends you have not yet met?
3. Know What to Share
Knowing what you need from a group of stakeholders is one. However, if you want people to come, you need to communicate it. And this requires nuance. After all, it needs to be inviting. Why should people choose to come over and visit your event? Framing of the question is important here. But also the format can be of help (see our blogpost on visual letters). It is about inviting others into your experience. It is about your sincere quest for more wisdom. Are you ready for inviting others in this delicate process? If so, what do you do if you find competitors in the room? Or do you see them as potential collaborators to realize your dreams and projects? Sharing is caring.
What do you invite people into? How do you communicate this in an open and honest way? Do you have a strategy to turn your competitors into strategic partners? And how do you reach the people that want to be there?
3. Know How to Engage
Great, all the people are in the room. Finally, the day or evening has arrived. Yet, what now? For information to be shared, it is crucial that people feel ‘safe’ to voice their experiences and ideas. People need to feel welcome, and should trust that they are taken seriously. Neutral facilitation helps here. The benefit of this is that the initiating party can engage with those present without being distracted with the process. In addition, attendees feel special, as both the initiating and the facilitating parties are dedicated to take care of them. Framing the event is also crucial. In the end it is about asking the right questions -at the right time, to the right people.
Do you know to invite people into a safe space to share? How do you ensure participants can think along? How do you balance the group’s energy levels with the desired output? Are you looking for ideas, concepts, or solutions?
4. Know How to Receive
People sharing their ideas and experiences is special. Why would they after all? Be prepared that people may share their most intimate and valuable ideas. Treat them as such. It is about respecting other people’s views. And it is about feeling thankful. Receiving is however also about giving. Do you give room for all to share? Do you together make sense of what is going on the world? Do you feel the great gift you get from others?
How do you ensure that what is said is taken seriously? Do you have a strategy to deal with differences of opinion? How do you facilitate collective meaningmaking? How do you give a safe space to taste the future?
5. Know what it means to Give
Let us say you had a creative brainstorm with the group. Surprising and groundbreaking ideas were flying around. Did you however capture mentioned lifechanging ideas? Having a graphical recorder present at your event that illustrates and maps ideas may help out. First, this visual wall artist converges the information on the spot. Going over all the produced sheets is no longer needed. Meaning easier afterwork for the organizers. For those present, a (neutral) bigger picture can be shared back. You thank those present for sharing their ideas and experiences. It is as if you hold a mirror to the group. So the impact of the mentioned ideas are documented (i.e. not lost). And people can implement the principles beyond the ideas to their work. In addition, a graphical harvest may attract media attention as well. And it can be used to interpret all the gained input as well.
How do you ensure you give back the bigger story? How do you keep the ideas alive? How do you make it reality? Do you have a follow-up-plan?
With ModelMinds we like to ‘be overprepared’. After all, this makes the difference between a ‘draining’ meeting and a gathering that builds impact. It is the difference between ‘art for fun’ to integrating it for ‘collective meaningmaking’. It is about tasting the future. What is better than exploring this together?
Love this post? Want to be invited for our next event?
P.S. Want to know more about process design with conferences? Read about it in this case study with Erasmus MC. Want to know more on how we did a process with the Ministry of Culture, Education and Innovation? Read this post. And check the actual case study with Bloc23/MixTup that inspired us to share today.