I LOVE the holiday season: the elevated spirits, the coming together, the frenzy of it all, lights, sparkling, anticipation and looking at New York’s iconic store window displays.
During the holiday season, we are reminded—and invited—to recognize the value and significance of family, friends and foworkers. It can be stressful and celebratory or challenging as emotions run high. We are given opportunities and the choice to decide how much or how little we would like to participate, and with whom. We make deliberate choices to see and be seen and to give—or not to give.
The same thoughts relate to designing meetings. When planning a meeting and choosing to take a design approach, planners are challenging themselves to redefine their role as a meeting and event professional. Recognizing the players in a meeting—i.e., clients, vendors, participants, speakers and all other stakeholders—and their significance invites the planner to recognize everyone’s value. Meetings and events have an obligation to give everyone a feeling of perceived value in their investment of time and finance as well as a feeling of belonging and celebration.
True design is the planning and choosing process applied to the aesthetics and logistics of any undertaking. Design results in a product or action that addresses important questions at form and function. Design solves both aesthetic and logistical challenges by means of good questions that must begin the moment the meeting or event is conceived.
Here is a list of questions for you to ask when designing your next meeting:
- What statement must we make? (A statement is a big idea or impression that has instant visual dynamics.)
- What is the client’s personality?
- What is the most appropriate style, based on client’s tastes?
- What opportunities are we creating for people to speak to one another (not including social media)?
- What could this space look like?
- Is the space appropriate to the theme?
- How is it best to direct the flow of people?
- What emotions do we want to evoke instantly?
- What could—and should—be accented in this environment?
- What should be eliminated?
- What part of the event requires quiet space, and where would that best be located?
- How can we set this space up in such a way as to avoid lines or queues at food and beverage stations—and still leave the space feeling open and accessible?
- What entertainment/speaker/program details must be incorporated?
- Is there a choice on set-up, staging, etc.? (Note: There is always a choice.)
- Have all the risk-management assessments been addressed for safety: ADA, exits, load in, décor/furniture safety, dance floor, tents, etc.?
- Is there security from the beginning to the end of the event for all?
And the questions could go on and on.
In an age-old play by Thornton Wilder called “Our Town,” the overlying lesson is that we matter to each other. The characters look back on simple scenes in their lives. They don’t always remember exactly how the places or faces looked, but they recall the emotional connections through the times they designed to be together.
This is the human condition, and this is the responsibility of gathering—to bring people together whether for the holiday season or for your meeting season—because we matter to each other.
As we ring in the New Year, I just wanted to say Happy Holidays to all!