Government Case Study: Engaging the Disengaged

The Challenge

We had an interesting challenge with a client who had disengaged participants.  The attendees were obligated to attend their annual conference as part of their job although many of them did not share the same views of needs.

This is a reality for many annual meetings and conferences.  Participants may not share beliefs, be on the same page about internal changes, or even understand the reason for meeting at all; but they are still expected to have a transformative experience…even if the only reason for attending is obligation.  It’s a huge issue for meeting professionals and internal stakeholders.

As a result, breakout sessions were extremely challenging for this particular conference, and pushing the agenda forward to come to conclusions and agreements was difficult.  The organizers wanted to increase engagement so that the energy in the room and around the conference in general would be positive and constructive.

Our goal was to create a positive and inclusive vibe that would overwhelm the regular negativity and boost engagement for better results.

The Solution

We brought in Roger Haskett (Owner, Artistic Director, Speaker) as the Emcee/Learning Coach. We believe in the Power of Play so our emcees/conference engineers use engaging, playful energy to pull the participants into engagement.
Roger opened the conference with his award winning talk: Pressure Cooker Confidence which helps people ignite the leader within by providing authenticity, confidence and engagement skills so they can communicate effectively while under pressure/be a bigger, better, more authentic version of themselves. We find that starting a conference/meeting with sessions that help participants be a bigger, better, more authentic version of themselves turbocharges the ROI of the meeting.
On the first evening we played Family Feud to help the group bond as a team, let loose, and have fun.  Attendee’s real families were invited to participate so there was lots of spouses and children. We kept the questions geared for play but still snuck in some questions that highlighted critical content to help make light of the serious content and make everyone feel included.
On the second day, the Learning Coach spent time before lunch and at the end of the day creating an environment supporting retention of the most important take-aways from the conference. Small groups talked over what elements they wanted to bring back to to their work and/or life. Then the whole group discussed what they thought were the most essential components. We locked in important key messaging that came out of this group discussion. It was lively, positive, and many discoveries were made based on what other groups had found valuable.

So how did the client and the conference participants respond to these changes?

End Results

The survey results post-conference were better by far than any other conference in the organization's history! It was one for the books.  Many people had been attending this annualmeeting for 20+ years, and the satisfaction rating was higher than ever before.

Instead of a hostile room, the conference became quite lively. Smiles were shared with increasing frequency.  It’s hard to be unhappy and angry when everyone else around you is having fun. Neuroscience proves this point and we saw it happening in real time in the room.  By the end of the 2 days, the room felt participatory, inclusive and friendly. What a change from previous years!

Here’s what the participants said:

    "I really enjoyed it. It is so much better than before; such a breath of fresh air. I loved the Emcee! What a great time he was!"

    "Great entertainment, emcee. Great location. The workshops Human Rights & Persuasive Communications engaging and very informative."

    "Great opportunity to network. Found out others in Vancouver are meeting for lunch and learns and connected with this group to be included in the future. This would not have happened were it not for this meeting. "

    "Excellent group. Energy, expertise, knowledge and enthusiasm."

    "Good idea to use an emcee full of energy to keep us interested, energized."

The Sequel

After the conference, the client approached us with another interesting challenge. They wanted to see how they could keep the engagement going so that next year’s conference would build on this year success. Using videos, we created a competition around who was implementing what they learned at the conference.

It was a great testament to the success of the changes we made, and proved that the story of a meeting doesn’t end once you leave those four walls.

We will update this case study as we see how the videos worked to create increasing engagement within this group, but for now, we cannot disclose the name of our end client for privacy reasons.