7 Ways to turn any meeting into a fascinating experience

In a crowded, busy, distracted world… how can you design an experience that your audience will never forget? How can you inspire even the most jaded audiences?

It’s tough to impress your clients and audiences. Expectations are higher, and attention spans are shorter. How to keep people off their iPhones, and on topic?

Taking meetings from “uninspired” to “unforgettable”

In this battle for attention, you can design unforgettable meetings, once you find new ways to fascinate.

When you fascinate your participants, they’re more likely to learn, retain, and apply what they’ve experienced. They reach for higher levels of learning, and eagerly share ideas. Your participants become raving fans.

How exactly can you achieve this? Can anyone design an unforgettable experience? If so, what’s the process?

7 ways to turn any meeting into a fascinating experience

A quick glimpse inside the seven ways that you can design fascinating experiences:

1. PASSION: Build emotional connections.
Heighten your participants’ emotional connection to a topic by developing ways for them to bond. People are far less likely to forget emotions than facts. A few examples: Opt for ways to heighten the five senses: through colorful locations, delicious food, and music. Select a speaker with a heartfelt personal story. Avoid focusing on cold, hard facts in your content, because these dampen emotion. Any type of learning can make people feel passionately about the subject matter, once you tap into the brain’s hardwired patterns.

2. INNOVATION: Surprise and delight with creativity.
Tweak the norms. Incorporate humor. Make the planning experience fun for your client and team. When people experience something new, they are more likely to tell others about it because it’s noteworthy. For instance, instead of the standard conference format, defy expectations and experiment with something out-of-the-box, such as witty marketing materials, or unexpected exotic cuisine.

3. POWER: Allow them to control part of the experience.
Empower participants to confidently network and make new connections. 90% of introductions fail to lead to future connections because people simply don’t know how to open a conversation. With a few simple tools, attendees can stop feeling unconfident and start building their network. For instance, add a conversation starter to each nametag.

4. PRESTIGE: Impress them with a new standard.
Find one way to over-deliver. Increase their perceived value of sharing in this moment. Instead of making everything good, find one element they’ll never forget. For instance, curate the guest list to increase demand, or invest in the best possible opening speaker or performer. A Virtuoso conference surprised attendees when Frances Ford Coppola walked on stage as the closing keynote, and an Epsilon meeting wowed executives with a performance by Jewel.

5. ALERT: Teach with precise data and facts.
Sometimes, an emotional approach isn’t the most effective. When delivering a complex analysis of a problem, it’s more effective to avoid the warm-and-fuzzy, and instead, impress with a crisp analysis, impressive charts and graphs, and precise results.

6. MYSTIQUE: Arouse curiosity to learn more.
Hint at what’s to come, but don’t give it all away. Get them leaning forward in their seats, so they can’t wait to find out what’s next in the agenda. Get them buzzing. Curiosity is an incredibly powerful motivator. An increased desire to learn more gets people “hooked,” so they stay involved. The TED conference, for instance, never reveals exactly how speakers are chosen, which adds to the allure of the unknown. What about keeping the keynote speaker or closing party performer a secret?

7. TRUST: Rely on traditional patterns, such as familiar hotels, or standard foods.
Sometimes, the wisest choice is to go with what’s worked in the past. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, build trust by repeating a familiar format. Incorporate traditions, and repeat stories of shared history.

By applying one or more of these seven tools, anyone can make a meeting go from uninspired to unforgettable. Think of this system as a new shortcut to earning and keeping anyone’s attention.


Designing experiences isn’t about “checking off the boxes”. (Click to tweet)

Meetings are not just meetings… they’re an opportunity to make a difference. (Click to tweet)

Meetings are your opportunity to motivate, challenge and inspire the world (Click to tweet)

TELL US IN THE COMMENTS BELOW… How will you make your meeting even more fascinating?

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About the author

Sally Hogshead

Sally skyrocketed to the top of the advertising world in her early 20s, fascinating millions of consumers for clients such as MINI Cooper and Coca-Cola. Since then, she’s published two New York Times bestsellers on the science of fascination, and is one of only 172 living members in the Speaker Hall of Fame. Over a million professionals have taken the Fascination Advantage® personality test to discover how others perceive their communication.

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