Meeting new demands: How to prepare venues for interactive events

By guest author Prof. Dr. Christine Kohlert, Head of Workplace Strategy at RBSGROUP, Part of Drees & Sommer

Meeting and congress centres of the future should be equipped with a wide range of interactive tools to be able to meet all the differing requirements of attendees. This regards digital formats but also other formats that don't need any kind of technical support so as to provide a balance and something different in this context, too.

When attending a congress, delegates not only expect interesting talks but also opportunities to grow their professional network and engage with a variety of people that potentially have similar jobs and problems to solve. Therefore, sufficient options for interaction with other attendees and being inspired by new ideas need to be provided.

Tablet stations could be digital elements to work with in this context. Attendees can use them to interact with others but also to leave comments, engage in chats, get information and much more. Large screens dotted around the venue are another tool for attendees to access content as well as write or draw something with others and then send it of as an email. Video stations as a third option enable attendees to interview each other or simply voice their observations, make comments and express what they expect from the event in future.

Analogue situations also provide a number of creative options to foster interaction, such as tables with a variety of materials to "play" with or gadgets. You could think about using games working with word or image cards that can be arranged individually and have an educational purpose or illustrate one's own situation. Attendees could use their mobile to take a picture of the card constellation they created and the next person could then use the cards again for their own arrangement. At the end of the event, all snapshots could be shared with the attendees in a moodboard film. World Café tables revolving around different themes are another option and attendees could leave their comments on the "tablecloth".

Or why not appeal to the joy people take in creating things with their hands as a means of integrating interactive elements: Set up large Lego tables and either provide partly built structures for attendees to complete or themes for them to get creative with.

In a nutshell: Apart from providing attendees with interesting talks and presentations, events should first and foremost be inspiring places for people to learn something new and make experiences that engage all their senses. Only then will they leave lasting impressions.

Christine Kohlert

Prof. Dr. Christine Kohlert has a background in architecture and more than 30 years of experience in the field of the future of work and learning environments and how physical spaces and organisation interact. She focuses on integrating users in the development process, making the change process visible and analysing physical spaces. Christine is a professor at Mediadesign Hochschule in Munich and Augsburg Technical College. She was a research affiliate at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for twelve years, managing numerous research projects and running seminars on physical spaces and organisation as well as on innovation.