Better than the Movies Part 2: The Active Learning/Participatory Model

(CLICK HERE to read Part 1)

Hello and welcome back everyone. I’m so glad you’re here. Because now we get to the meat, the juice, the fizz, the key elements, the key points…the key.

Here’s why you should care.

Have you ever looked around the room at a meeting and seen faces that look like this? Hard to believe they are retaining anything at all!

Have you ever looked around the room at a meeting and seen faces that look like this? Hard to believe they are retaining anything at all!

The retention level of regular conferences and meetings has been studied. Does it surprise you to know that approx. 5-7% of what attendees learn in meetings/conferences is retained and acted upon after 2 days? (via Barbara Palmer for PCMA)

2 days! 5-7%!

Those numbers are ridiculous, and they reveal the very real problem that our industry needs to face: We have inherited a conference and meeting model that ensures non-retention.

How do we reverse that?  By tackling it head-on.

By using research (neuroscience, learning models, surveys, studies etc.) as our starting point to create strategies, formats, and content that:

  • Locks in learning
  • Provides opportunities for effortless networking
  • Engages the attendees so that they become active participants in their learning process.

To help our clients solve this problem, we’ve created a meeting model that tackles retention challenges and recognizes the current main drivers of attendance at conferences:

The Active Learning/Participatory Model

  1. What happens in the audience is more important than what is happening on a stage
  2. Content and fun/play are interwoven
  3. Stories are used as often as possible to convey information and learning objectives
  4. Teams and peer discussions drive discovery/learning methods
  5. Includes elements of surprise and unpredictability where possible
  6. Rooms where learning and networking are expected to occur are set up to allow for and encourage movement and different learning styles
  7. Networking and discussion are built-in components for each session.
  8. Attendees practice “out loud” communication. Learning is not locked in until the attendee actually rephrases and says (out loud!) what they are thinking. Thinking it isn’t enough - alone, it leads to 5% retention. (see Kolb’s Cycle of Experiential Learning)
  9. Engage the attendees in their own learning process and make them part of the solution.
  10. Whenever possible, wherever possible, have fun. Which includes modelling the power of play in front the attendees.

Include all or some of these principles and your attendees will find your meeting to be far better than the normal conference model (that was created in the 13th century and that we are still using!!!).

The #2 reason people attend conferences right now is “access to specialized information” (via Greenfield Pulse Report 2014) - wouldn’t it be great if your attendees remembered more than 5% of this specialized information? And had the best time doing it? And felt like the meeting was all about them while it happened?

What are your thoughts on the active learning/active participant model? What are the easy to implement parts? What are the parts you would never in your lifetime implement? What should be added to (or removed from) our 10 point model?

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