How Meeting Professionals Engage their Audience – Workshop ideas.

People use online voting to find the best ideas from brainstorming

Using a digital facilitation tool can take your event from a drab, random hodgepodge of conversations that nobody remembers to an interactive, engaging real-time experience. See how this group of meeting organizers did it.

GEVMExchange, hosted by GlobalSignIn at the American Club, Singapore hosted over 100 meeting professionals and event leaders who came together to share the latest trends and to highlight some of the key issues facing event planners. Speakers and topics included:

  • Ben Glynn from Emarsys and Andy Choi from Whispir talking about marketing automation and the need for personalization of messaging.

  • SiddarthDAs sharing an inspiring story about Earth Hour and how a small team executes on events being run globally.

  • Raven Chai from UX Consulting talking about human-centric event design and principles of design.

  • Ken Hickson from SESA sharing updates on ISO standards and sustainability tips.

  • Rachel Siah from BRCKTS with her learnings of venturing into social media.

Capturing key themes through opportunities, challenges and ideas

As part of the conference, GroupMap captured what people thought were future opportunities, challenges and ideas. Based on what was being discussed and shared that day, the wider group could then prioritise the top issues for further discussion.

Next, delegates were given the opportunity to brainstorm and add ideas throughout the day on their mobile, tablet or laptop. The final session was an interactive breakout session for small group discussion. This was a great way to make the workshop more interactive and to make sure that topics were driven by consensus.

Using Dot Voting to generate group consensus

To do this, delegates were asked to digitally dot vote on the top 5 themes that they are most interested in.

Event organizers could see the audience votes in real-time and displayed this on the screen, with one of them commenting “this is like the stock exchange” as topics that were popular floated to the top and were displayed larger.

Using GroupMap as a digital facilitation tool meant the results were collated in real time and were a visual representation of what the audience most wanted in the room.

Audience uses online dot voting to decide on the most important topics to them.

Guest speakers were then invited to facilitate the discussion on the 4 topics in groups.

1. Social media use cases and examples of viral videos and content for meetings.

2. Automation, marketing, and outreach tools.

3. Use of event technology and sustainability concepts in event planning.

4. Audience engagement.

Taking brainstorming online and to the edge.

Going one step further, a map was created to ask people to take brainstorming to the edge using the concept of Edgestorming – from the book Disciplined Dreaming. This thinking style is used by Cirque du Soleil to create memorable events that are buzz-worthy and create word of mouth. The goal is to take creativity all the way to the “edge”, rather than simply sticking to the status quo.

The question was what you could do to make your event outrageously…

  • Big

  • Small

  • Loud

  • Soft

  • Expensive

  • Cheap

  • Strong

  • Fast

Great ideas for various workshops generated through group brainstorming.

GroupMap was the online brainstorming and group response tool used to gather audience insights and voting for key topics at the conference for event and meeting professionals.

Ideas ranged from organising a surprise flash mob to lightning talks to an event harpist! Check out the GroupMap results below.

Veelmal Gungadin, CEO of GlobalSignIn said…..

Engaging the audience to judge the winning corporate learning videos

If you are thinking of a great way to engage the audience then check out how this event organizer turned people’s smartphones and tablets into more than just another audience polling device.

Event organizers of the LearnX conference wanted the audience to decide on the Platinum, Gold and Silver winners of the Best E-Learning training video for 2015.  They had shortlisted the finalists but wanted to crowdsource the final outcome.  But with over 120 people in the room, 4 judging criteria and a ticking clock, the challenge was to collate all that data in real time and announce the places.

Rob Clarke, Founder and Chair of LearnX Foundation -LearnX is always on the lookout for ways to demonstrate cutting edge technologies in the world of learning. We are excited to let you know that we will be using GroupMap for delegates at the Awards to help judge the finalists in the Best E-Learning Video Category.

Here’s how they made the magic happen.

The committee decided on the 4 judging criteria and it was up to the corporate learning teams to pitch and play their videos to a live crowd of peers.  As the crowd watched on, they would enter their ratings using sliders on their device.

After the final videos played, there was a final discussion and deliberation. The final placements were then displayed in real time – showing the spread and combined totals over everyone’s voting.

Participants could also comment on their scores, give feedback to teams and justify their rankings.  This means that the teams were not just getting the opinions of 3 judges but the collective mind and wisdom of the crowd.

This was one of the most valuable items for the teams and far more meaningful than just the traditional loudness of applause method. Having direct comments and feedback from the audience meant that the team could learn what people loved and thought could potentially be areas for improvement in the future.

Our congratulations to all of the finalists and a big thank you to the wonderful audience who used GroupMap as their judging software for this event.  It was great to see in real time all the engagement, thoughts and comments from people for the teams!

LearnX is the E-learning and Training industry association which runs meetings and conferences which recognises the industry top performance such as Best learning services, best new technology implementation, best eLearning design and best learning project.  Each year industry speakers share and showcase their projects and 2015 was the inaugural year in which they used innovative technology to engage crowd participation.

A Critical Thinking Exercise – Which would you rather battle?

See how this simple exercise had over 100 people brainstorming and voting on the best arguments. Industry professionals meet VET teachers to bring currency to the curriculum.

Ask yourself this.  Which would you rather battle?

1 horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?

This was the question posed to attendees of the Industry Currency day where over 110 VET teachers were asked to share and debate their views using GroupMap as their audience response system. This professional development session was focused on ways to improve critical thinking skills – a key learning outcome for 21st-century learning in any curriculum.

perth industry forum groupmap

Each person was asked to pick a side initially. Working in small groups, they then added arguments to be shared more widely as part of the collaborative learning exercise. Here are some of the ideas they came up with.

With the opposing views  captured, this became the perfect fodder for a healthy debate. But we wanted to take it one step further to work out which arguments were the strongest.


Use of voting techniques to identify logical fallacies

Using the concepts of logical fallacies (flaws in logic) and the simple like/dislike buttons, people voted up the arguments that they felt best made their case.  The best and strongest arguments would then float to the top and the results shown. The goal was to focus on the strongest arguments put forward by the each side.

Running through the ideas allowed people to comment and to support and challenge what was being said by their peers. This form of collective learning certainly isn’t something you could do with simple polling.

The group discussed the arguments presented and considered the impact this had on their position on the matter. Whilst a hypothetical discussion, it highlights the importance of forming a good argument free from logical flaws.

Hosted by Training Council (FAPSTC) and held at Curtin University, the Industry engagement forum provided a technology driver environment for the VET sector to interact with speakers and industry representatives. More than 40% of year 12 students undertaking a VET qualification in 2014.  The event was an outstanding success.

“Alison Sweet, event organizer from FAPSTAC said: “Teachers can gain insights to help them take industry intelligence and embed it into their classrooms, creating relevant, authentic and innovative environments.”

Part of the session also included an interactive industry Q&A powered by GroupMap. “We wanted to lead by example, “ said Sweet, “and make the most of collaboration tools like GroupMap. It allows audience members to ask questions to presenters as they have them, engaging those that might not be comfortable asking questions in a large group forum. The workshop organizers could see any unanswered questions posed by the group on GroupMap and could respond to them. Teachers could see group brainstorming technology in practice making it easier to implement strategies to engage students in the classroom.”

Additional sessions included test running a new social media platform called FauxBook, insights into careers in business, finance, and technology from Microsoft and BankWest, and industry updates from a panel of industry speakers.


Ready to try your own critical thinking exercises?

Here are 5 tips to consider to help students become independent learners.

  1. Set examples that do not have a straightforward answer.

    These are your non-Google”able” items that challenge the student ability to examine perceptions, inferences and conclusions. “Which is better? Oranges or bananas?
  2. Start and end with “Why”.

    This is a clear sign that people are engaging in thinking.  A simple technique is to ask Why 5 times so you really drill down into the basic logic.

  3. Aren’t questions great?

    Learning stops at an answer and thinking starts with a question.  A Socratic style and deliberate questioning with the group will get those neurons firing.

  4. Engage in visual thinking.

    In this blog example, we used a 2 column list just to represent opposing views. Additional options such as Plus, Minus Interesting, 6 thinking hats, or a collaborative mind map provide different thinking activities. The use of space with graphic organizers helps to organize thoughts and to make it easier to see what the thinking is in the room.
  5. Give them time to think.

    Want to avoid that awkward silence when you ask a large group a question? Critical thinking exercises require a little introspection and processing time. Give people a chance to brainstorm individually first (yes, this is a feature in GroupMap).  They can then share more broadly and with confidence with the wider group.

If you would like to watch a quick critical thinking exercise in action, please watch the below video.

Creating workshops with a difference – Youth Leaders in Aged Care

How do you get young people to be more involved in aged care boards? Injecting fresh innovative ideas into boards requires a new approach. Rather than a traditional workshop, with sticky notes that don’t stick, the organizers ran an “unconference” where people across generations could share ideas in real-time using an online brainstorming tool. Combining an audience response system with guest speakers from leadership bodies helped to engage the crowd and capture more ideas quickly and come up with strategies for action.

Dr Nicky Howe of Southcare Inc.

Alicia Curtis, Facilitator

Teaming up with Southcare Inc and facilitator Alicia Curtis, GroupMap joined in the action with over 30 brilliant minds to create innovative aged care organisations.

“How can we redesign our services and become more socially innovative?”

Southcare Unconference

Here’s their top 3, which they were happy to share. How would you rate?

1. Be okay with failing – Don’t blame failure, celebrate it. Define the appetite for the risk, then take a bite!

2. Create a culture of open communication – have respectful debates and look outside your own community for ideas.

3. Challenge the values of the boardroom– give people permission to think with innovation and challenge the “common sense” approach in the boardroom.

Engaging youth was the next challenge, but with over 46 ideas generated, there were certainly a few standouts. Popular actions included advertising in youth areas and universities, reaching out to grandchildren and specialised training programs. Specific governance strategies included changing constitutions to re-define board profiles to hosting youth-driven think tanks. Ideas that really broke from the norm included reaching out to detention centres, immigrant families and having permanent rotating positions.
So how did they come up with these ideas?
People sat in cross-generation teams and were addressed by industry leaders who shared their views and insights, creating a little communication fodder. Some believed it was about creating innovation champions within organisations and individuals change agents (Sue Van Leeuwan, CEO-Leadership WA) whilst others believed it required the whole Board to have the right mix and culture. Patrick Critchton, Justine Colyer – Chair.CEO – Rise Network). What seemed less divided was the need for training the next generation through structured pathways (Julian Keys- Chairperson, Swancare) and creativity and diversity on boards to ensure you aren’t just recycling the same old concepts.(Andrew York, CEO – People who care) The group was given tasks like writing a business case for their board and to brainstorm takeaway actions to increase engagement of youth in aged care. Seeing a room full of passionate people taking a collaborative approach to problem-solving was great. Coupled with an electronic meeting tool that brings everyone’s ideas together in real-time was an effective way to solve common problems across the sector.
From our perspective, it was great to see the inter-generational sharing and diversity of the team come together to meet help solve the issues associated with the Aged Care sector. Having a mixed team of ages, genders and industry backgrounds doesn’t come without its challenges. Sufficient time is needed to allow each participant to share their story and to justify why their idea should “stay on the page.”

All the best for your next collaborative workshop. We hope these tips and story helps you create better engagement too! Here are some testimonials from the facilitator and some of the participants during the workshop.