Member voice: Conferences, Dinner Parties and Meets - Re-thinking events

This weeks member voice comes from our CEO, Adam Malik, sharing the design process of the Engerati Meets
Published: Fri 11 May 2018

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I have moderated and organised many events in my career and they have at times felt like a badly organised dinner party.

You know the ones where the host has invited disparate groups of people but feels like their job is to be in the kitchen and prepare the food and leave the guests to figure out connections themselves - yes I am describing my own personal failure before understanding the concept of ‘Mise en place’ and fully committing to the duties of a good host.

Now, what does this have to do with commercial events and my vision for Engerati Meets? It's simple, as the organiser I feel there are two jobs. The first is obvious - you need to get the people there - but the second is often left to chance or at best done in a feverish and uncoordinated way at the last minute! This is the duty of the organiser to create connections well before the event, make them deeper at the event and sustain them after. I believe this to be a fundamental value of live events.

The challenge I set for us at Engerati is to make our events feel like a well-run dinner party, accelerating meaningful and deeper connections.

Facilitation at the core

In the journey to designing the ideal experience, I spoke to many people to get input into what an outcome-centric event would look like for our members and delegates. One person's input, Josh Stinton who is now Engerati’s lead Facilitator, stood out.

Josh has worked on TED events and facilitates for some of the world’s largest consulting firms. In that process not only did he hone his craft but also explained to me how trained facilitation is vastly different from just chairing a group. Josh says it better than I, and I hand over this post to Josh at this point:

“From my first meeting with Adam and the Engerati team, it became clear that we share a passion for creating impactful engagement across the industry that drives action. For me, facilitation goes back to the origin of the word, meaning ‘to make easy’. Put simply, how can we ‘make it easy’ for the insights and theory surrounding energy transition to be turned into lasting connections and ultimately put into practice. This became Engerati Meets.

There has been a great deal of thinking, and work put into the design process of the Engerati Meets and not just what happens on the day, but what they can provide for the future. Over a process using design thinking and collective previous experience, we took the traditional conference model, TED events models, and facilitated workshop models - turned them all upside down and shook them out - hard.

We rearranged the parts that we knew would be integral to creating a truly unique experience that will provide every attendee with not just an environment to hear but to be heard. Engagement and collaboration are at the heart of every conversation we had and I look forward to meeting all participants at Engerati Meets and being a part of an environment designed to collaborate on not just what is currently happening - but where we are going and what is needed to get there.”

Scaling knowledge and skills

Now our challenge is how do we scale these skills and make them a core part of the Engerati Meets experience?

Here is our process and I believe it will have a material impact on the feel of our events.

As we recruit our speakers and facilitators they all connect with Josh to get a clear understanding of what outcome is expected from them and how we will help them achieve this. Closer to the event Josh runs an online masterclass in facilitation. This not only helps us but creates value and learning for our presenters and facilitators.

We follow a similar process with our delegates. The Engerati Connect App is designed to create connections before the event. Driven by an AI engine, it looks to ensure diversity and relevance in its recommendations.

Our attendees are also given clear guidance on preparation work they can do and what to expect at the workgroups they attend, arriving at the event with connections and knowledge.

Total digitisation to free our attendees

The biggest burden we have taken away in all of this is our commitment to the total digitisation of the content produced from the sessions. It frees up participants to participate, not worrying about notes. We have tried our best to create an environment where interaction, knowledge exchange and connections are the full focus.

For those of you attending our first meet, I hope you enjoy the experience, and most importantly, I hope you will feedback on how we can improve it for you. I look forward to welcoming you to our dinner party…