Results of a new research survey of 430 delegates, students and event organisers has found that motivations for meetings vary strongly between the groups.
The research, conducted by Imago Venues, in conjunction with Loughborough University and The Right Solution, shows that the reality of life in the workplace, is very different to students’ expectations as they embark on their careers.
The replies showed delegates see meetings as an opportunity for creative and innovative thinking, yet their feedback suggests this is often not achieved and that meeting organisers and facilitators could pay more attention to stimulating creative thought.
Just over half (51%) of delegates and 37% of students felt fully encouraged to take part in meetings. Delegates and students said they wanted to feel recognised by their employers and to build confidence in their ability, helping them to progress their career.
The research also showed students are looking for strategic thinking and guidance and want to learn how to use their strengths to their own advantage. Millennials want to learn something valuable and develop relationships that will benefit them. A meeting has to be linked to what they want to achieve, not the organisation.
Interestingly, 81% of students and 82% of delegates said one of the major motivations to attend meetings is for personal career development opportunities, yet this wasn’t rated highly as a motivator by organisers.
On the other side of the coin, an organisation’s vision and goals are high priority for organisers but a low priority for attendees who are more concerned with being recognised. Students expressed a desire to learn how to use their strengths to their own advantage.
Another finding was that technology has to be used carefully to avoid becoming a distractor.
While some reports have suggested that ‘gamification’ and interactivity is all that is required to enthuse attendees under the age of 25, the research results suggest a slightly more subtle subtext. Technology must have a strategic objective and not just be used for the sake of it.
Delegates and students made it clear that the purpose of technology is to be interactive and to give them a voice during the proceedings. They want fun, relevant ways of enjoying content via games and technology. This was broadly recognised by organisers but clearly is not being delivered often enough in practice. 77% students and 75% of delegates said they like meetings to use interactive games and new technology yet only 66% of organisers said they are making use of them.
Social media activity will not necessarily motivate people to attend meetings but 65% of students, 61% of delegates and 51% of organisers believe it is a good tool for creating awareness. However, the results show that organisers are not promoting the right kind of messages via this platform. Posting information for its own sake is not sufficient. Engagement is key and sharable content which raises awareness of key issues has a much wider impact with millennials.
The research also found that because delegates often prefer to interact with their peers than with the speaker, it is important for organisers and venues to create environments which facilitates such interaction.
Other issues covered by the research include choosing a speaker and using breakout sessions for maximum effect.
Emma Boynton, head of sales and marketing at Imago Venues, commented on the results: “Through our research we have seen that whilst there is a high expectation amongst delegates that the content of their meeting should be relevant and stimulating, they also expect there to be time to interact with their peers. These breakout sessions provide them with the opportunity to gauge other people’s perceptions of the information given to them. Because everybody has a different way of taking this information on board, having the chance to discuss it away from the classroom aides the learning process meaning they can take more away from the meeting.
“As venues, we need to support event organisers so they can integrate breakout sessions into their programme in a way that achieves both their goals and those of their delegates. Being able to offer flexible meeting rooms and separate networking areas allows everybody to get what they need from the event, which in turn makes it a worthwhile experience for everybody involved.”
A copy of the research can be downloaded from here.