5 Meeting Trends and What’s Ahead

First, the good news: Carson Wagonlit predicts positive growth for the meetings and event industry.

And now for the bad news (and it’s hardly surprising): meetings have a bad rap. Seen as a waste of time, a break from “actual work,” it’s getting harder than ever to engage audiences. So what’s to be done? All meeting trends point to immersive, interactive activities that turn attendees into participants.

Here, take a look for yourself. Not meeting professionals ourselves (we’ll leave that to the professionals), we scoured the Internet and turned to experts to learn what trends impact the meeting industry. Here’s a peek at what to consider as a way to beat the meeting blahs:

Trend #1: Mobile Apps

Yup, the world has gone mobile. No news here. It’s the number one trend in 2015, according to meeting technology expert Corbin Ball. A meeting or conference that doesn’t keep the ubiquitous mobile device at the center of all planning will feel like, well, a throwback to another age. And not in a take a picture of it and add a hashtag to it fun way. So when you see that budget line for mobile app development, take a deep breath, nod your head, and approve it. Trust us, your meetings are dominated by mobile (at everyone’s fingertip, literally).

Trend #2: Participate Rather Than Attend

What’s the difference between attending and participating? It has a lot to do with feeling engaged and valued rather than sitting passively and potentially distracted. This trend comes straight from Michael Massari, Vice President at Caesars Entertainment, and it’s a concept we can all get behind. We want the time we’re taking to join a meeting to matter. We want to actively participate and contribute instead of being lectured to the point of distraction (“Hey, where’s my phone?”).

Trend #3: The Internet of Things

Have you been hearing about this? Spotted in PCMA’s Convene magazine, it’s not exactly a new trend but certainly one to consider in the days ahead. Everyday objects are connected to the Internet. Maybe you have one yourself in the guise of a Fitbit or a Nest thermostat. The “Internet of Things” is all around us. Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 25 billion devices will connect to the Internet. Is it so hard to imagine a whiteboard having the same capability? Planning for that next meeting or conference, put the Internet of Things to use and connect audiences to interactive displays. You’ll get their attention and involve them in the presentation in ways they never thought possible.

Trend #4: Hybrid Meetings

A hybrid meeting is part face-to-face and part virtual. Meeting Professionals International believes that hybrid meetings have the ability to transform how meetings are conducted. Think of them a little like producing a call-in show with a live audience and callers who are able to participate. Done well, meeting professionals can expand their reach and increase engagement. Virtual and face-to-face attendees feel like they’re part of the greater community and have a sense of belonging – two powerful emotional impacts that make meetings and conferences feel “worth it.”

Trend #5: Make It Personal

Who opens the mail addressed to “Current Resident”? When your name is handwritten on the envelope, you’re more likely to open it. Meetings are no different. People crave unique experiences that are customized to them. According to Successful Meetings, attendees are in search of sensory activities, making use all five senses. It could be by producing ways to collaborate or creating opportunities around gamification (another reason to get behind those mobile apps). We meet to connect, network and learn.

Meeting participants are on the lookout for events and meetings that captivate them, make them think, educate and inform them. What worked yesterday isn’t going to cut it for today’s meeting participants. They want to engage, interact, and participate. And mobile apps, interactivity, personalization and technology set the stage for success.

So what’s ahead? We’re keeping watch. As it stands now, it’s sure to be even more connected and rich with possibilities.


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Kristel Gibson
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About Kristel Gibson

Kristel Gibson is the social media content manager. She’s been studying and responding to the social trends of the “intertubes” for the last eight years. She lives in Seattle with her family.