Meetings 5.0…or Immersion 1.0?

Last week I had a quite large conference under the theme of Industry 4.0. It was a great success with lots of happy attendees, great presentations and networking above all.

Reflecting upon the Industry 4.0 paradigm afterwards, I got to wonder if we can talk about Meetings X.0 – and if so: What number is the X? Have we been through a series of meeting revolutions just as the production industry has been through three already and is standing on the verge of number 4?

In my opinion: Yes, we have been through a series of meeting revolutions in our industry – they just haven’t stretched over centuries, but rather decades. We have seen great changes within the last 40 years, not the last 400.

Baby year of the meetings industry

I believe the meetings industry had its infant beginning in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Before this time, there were many associations established around CVB’s and PCO’s, but none of them focused on meetings and why we have them. The first of these associations (including MPI where I volunteer) was founded in the 70’s.

In these two decades we started meeting about time management etc., we were seated in a classroom style and we sat there for hour upon hour listening to the ‘guru’ lecturing about this or that. If lucky, we had a lunch break with some sort of heavy food – after all, it was a day away from the office and the venue wanted to treat us to steak and chocolate cake. What’s not to like!

Teambuilding…yuck!!

Then came the teambuilding years in the 1990’s. Somebody realized that it didn’t do us well to be cramped up in a meeting room all day, not even seeing the light of day. We had to get out of the meeting room and out of our comfort zones.

In Denmark, we had what was later known as “kill a rabbit courses” where a former army ranger taught us that you needed to learn how to survive in the nature, including killing a rabbit in order to eat…that would definitely make you a better manager/employee/insert appropriate word (??).

I have to give it to this army ranger, though: He tried to shake things up a bit and saw that change wasn’t taught in a class room. However, the way he did it…not really up my alley.

New millennium – new ways

In the beginning of the new millennium, people in VisitDenmark created a new meeting concept called Meetovation. They wanted to make Denmark the number one country in the World to host the best meetings. Teambuilding as a means of shaking things up was behind us and now we all had to be actively involved, think responsibly, be locally inspired, use creative setups and create return on investment.

To this day, Meetovation is still practiced by those who swore to it back then, and it is a great concept. I my opinion it still lacks somewhat in the immersion, experience, and purpose department, but that is a whole different story.

Experience a meeting

Though the concept of experience economy was invented in the late 1990’s, it didn’t get a hold of the meetings and events industry until the 2010’s. Suddenly all meetings needed a theme, a color scheme and for the senses to be activated. There was also the concept of presence and being in the now while we were actively engaged in the meeting.

However, experience economy was widely regarded as adding parties to serious meetings, having a famous singer entertain at the conference dinner or being seated in beanbag chairs during the meeting. And so, many people got the wrong impression of what the concept actually stood for.

What’s next?

If you have followed this blog for a little while, you know that I used to talk a lot about experience economy/management. But now I have even kept up with new times and am talking about immersion instead. And guess what! I believe that immersion is what will be the focal point in the next decade.

When focusing on immersion we take the essence of experience management, meeting design and meeting purpose and create a meeting that gives the attendees the best possible opportunity to immerse themselves in the meeting and leave enlightened. And isn’t that the whole point of attending a meeting?

Meetings 5.0

When you count all these generations of meetings, you will see that there are 5, so I think we ought to talk about Meetings 5.0. However, many of the meetings I experience and/or hear about are still stuck in Meetings 1.0. Isn’t it time we up the ante and realize that we are well into the new millennium and that our meetings should reflect this!? Are we ready for Immersion 1.0?

In future blogposts, I will introduce you to my concept of immersion and how to blend this essence of experience management, meeting design and meeting purpose to create immersion.

See you later, alligator.

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