5 Reasons Meeting and Event Planners Should Attend The FRESH Conference (@Freshconference)

December 10, 2012

The FRESH Conference for designing effective meetings

The following is a guest post by Stefania Conti-Vecchi, Founder and CEO of EVENTagist.


Meetings are changing, are you?

Driven by the need to demonstrate value, by financial pressures, by regulatory compliance and by new technologies, changing meeting formats may be one of the toughest but most important objectives meeting organizers face.

When organizing a meeting or conference, you need to understand what tools you have available and how you can use them. And the most impactful tools may be meeting formats.

The FRESH Conference

“The FRESH13 adventure is not just theory, but thorough practical experience.”

At the FRESH conference, the annual conference organized by the Meeting Support Institute specifically dedicated to, and focussed on, meetings and events design, we will look at what we mean by a ‘meeting format’.

Attendees at The FRESH Conference - January 2013 in Copenhagen

We will explore together meeting formats, session formats and presentation formats, tools and techniques. The FRESH13 adventure is not just theory, but thorough practical experience.

For two and a half days, from 13-15 January 2013 in Copenhagen, FRESH13 will mix world-renowned speakers in a highly interactive environment rich with tools and technology to give you an opportunity to experience first-hand a wealth of innovative meeting formats and resources that engage attention and drive effectiveness.

What’s In Store

We will look at coordinating and managing the speakers and experts, the facilitators, the presentation designers and all the other specialists we need in order to deliver the meeting.

We will explore how to work with the venue for ever-changing room setups; with production and AV for their support; with catering for smart cooking; and how we apply sustainability and integrate the city, the surroundings.

We even include a little detour through sciences such as psychology, neurology and cognitive science to help us develop convincing arguments. The FRESH program will share stories and cases to convincingly demonstrate this valuable knowledge to your clients.

5 Reasons to Attend The FRESH Conference

1) To understand meeting owners and their objectives.

Meeting owners have a lot of power over meetings and events but their objectives are not always clearly identified. FRESH has experts on several topics that help you understand better what is needed to make our ‘clients’ sit down and spend some quality time on setting meeting objectives.

2) To experience a wide variety of meeting formats.

Meeting formats have an enormous impact on the outcome of a meeting or event. Knowing the theory is one thing, but practical experience of different meeting formats and techniques is essential. FRESH will have a different format for almost every session and will allow you to learn by experience: get ready to be totally immersed in session formats, presentation formats and all sorts of applicable techniques.

3) To learn from best practice through case studies.

Our crowd-sourced program is enriched with case studies from corporate and association meetings – big and small – each one providing many tips for you to take home and use.

4) To discover innovative tools and techniques for meeting design.

To craft good meeting designs you need a big toolbox. In the FRESH conference, but also in the Toolbox Networking Area and especially in the Learning Carousels, you will see, feel, hear and experience tools and techniques that you can take home and apply immediately to your own projects. Discover the new applications on iPad; crowd-sourcing tools; gamification platforms and more.

5) To meet and connect with your professional colleagues in meeting design.

The people that are professionally active in designing effective meetings come from many different backgrounds: senior planners, creative producers, AV professionals, facilitators, speaker managers, meeting architects, communication professionals and more.

Other sectors FRESH will be welcoming this year are Interaction Designers and Crowd-sourcing professionals. FRESH introduces you to an exciting new mix of disciplines, all focused on making meetings and events more effective.


We all want to become the ‘go-to’ person for meeting design. With better understanding, stronger stories and a bigger toolbox you are equipped to face the challenging world of the meeting owner. FRESH helps you to increase your impact on meetings and events. As you move into meeting architecture, you become stronger and more successful in helping meeting owners reaching their goals. You shape change.

Join the FRESH tribe

Join us at the Fresh Conference in January in Copenhagen and at the end you will be ready to shape change for your coming meetings and events.

If you cannot come, you can attend on-line and our virtual meeting facilitators will ensure you can participate effectively and that your voice will be heard.

  1. Learn more about FRESH13: http://www.thefreshconference.com
  2. Register now: https://www.etouches.com/ehome/fresh2013/registration/?&

Note: Special discount code for readers of “It’s All Virtual”: smc-FRESH13-buyer-20%

QR Code: Feel Free to Scan

QR code for The FRESH Conference

Connect with The FRESH Conference

  1. Follow the Fresh Conference on Twitter: @freshconference
  2. Join the conversation, use our official hashtag #FRESH13
  3. Like us on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Meeting-Support-Institute/304309966344329
  4. Follow us on Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/company/meeting-support-institute
  5. Send us an email: FRESH@meetingsupport.org

About Stefania

Stefania Conti-Vecchi, CEO of EVENTagist

Stefania Conti-Vecchi is Founder and CEO of EVENTagist, a selected community of international experts with a specific know-how in the Meeting Industry. Besides organizing events, Stefania also assists and supports meeting owners and organizers to create and manage meetings & events applying the most innovative solutions in each single stage of the process.

Specialized in new technologies topics and creative marketing strategies, her expertise ranges, particularly, across hybrid meetings, social media and all the web and mobile tools that can facilitate the life of the organizers. Passionate about mobile device applications connected to the needs of the Meeting Industry, Stefania speaks at international conferences and training courses on these “tech” topics and writes as blogger.

How to Use “Brain Rules” to Make Your Next Event More Impactful

June 7, 2012

Pictured: John Medina at 2012 PCMA Convening Leaders. Photo courtesy of MEETINGSNET.


At PCMA Convening Leaders 2012 in San Diego (in January), John Medina gave the opening keynote. Medina is the author of “Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School,” published by Pear Press in 2008.

I was unable to attend the Medina’s keynote, but judging by the chatter afterwards (both online and in the convention center), his talk was well received. I spoke to a few attendees who mentioned direct ties between “Brain Rules” and event planning. When I finally got around to reading the book, I had this “event angle” in mind.

Corporate Events

Attendees of corporate events are pre-disposed to interact with one another. You may know 20-60%+ of the attendees — and, even if you’ve never met someone before, you’re tied by the common bond of being part of the same company.

Monitor and Track your Corporate Learners

Rule #3 is called “Wiring” and can be summarized by the line “Every brain is wired differently.” Because everyone processes information (and learns) at different rates, Medina suggests smaller class sizes in schools. Why? So “the teacher can better keep track of where everybody is.”

Corporate training events should avoid the 3-hour PowerPoint presentations. Medina’s Rule #4 (“Attention”) says that “audiences check out after 10 minutes.” If you have a dry, 3-hour PowerPoint, chances are 2 hours and 50 minutes are wasted. Medina recommends that lectures be broken up into 10 minute segments.

To that I’d add that interactive technology be utilized to create a “presenter’s dashboard.” Throughout the session, short questions would be transmitted to all attendees via handheld devices. The question could be survey oriented (e.g. “Are you following the subject matter?”) or could “test” attendees to validate whether they’re following effectively.

All responses would be anonymous and presenters would be trained to effectively adapt and adjust their session based on the regularly-collected feedback. For instance, this method may identify segments that need to be slowed down, repeated or presented in more detail.

Repetition for Key Themes and Information

Rule #6 covers Long Term Memory and includes this nugget: “the way to make long-term memory more reliable is to incorporate new information gradually and repeat it in timed intervals.” To maximize learning at corporate events, then, consider the following:

  1. Schedule “recap sessions.” Featuring the original presenter, who provides a 5 minute summary of the key points from the original session. The remainder is a Q&A concerning the topic of the session.
  2. Reinforce during meals and drinks. In the common areas where food and drink are served, utilize large display monitors with rotating slide shows – the individual slides reiterate key points covered during the day’s sessions.
  3. Follow-on events. Schedule company-wide webcasts a few days (or a week) after the main event to reinforce key points covered.

In addition to repetition, Rule #4 (“Attention”) notes that “the brain needs a break.” This rule notes that a common flaw of instruction is “relating too much information, with not enough time devoted to connecting the dots.”

So here’s my own rule: each hour is divided into 50 minutes of instruction and 10 minutes of break. During these breaks, snacks are served and attendees are invited to connect the dots on whiteboards.

Gamify Your Corporate Event

Gamification of events has been widely discussed; however, a particular Brain Rule tells me how gamification can make a significant impact. In Rule #5 on Short-Term Memory, Medina notes, “The more elaborately we encode information at the moment of learning, the stronger the memory.”

How do we apply this rule? Create collaboration games in which you divide attendees up into teams. Teams are challenged to solve a problem. The act of solving the problem needs to involve elaborate steps (or considerations). And the end goal of learning is facilitated by the game itself (i.e. solving the challenge).

The result? Learning that results in stronger retention and recall (i.e. it made a larger impact) and a little team building thrown in for good measure.

All Types of Events

Exercise and Naps

You should incorporate exercise and naps into your event. Seems a bit crazy, right? Well, Rule #1 is “Exercise” and Medina notes that our evolutionary bodies are wired to walk 12 miles per day. In addition, he notes that exercise “stimulates the protein that keeps neurons connecting.”

The need to nap is covered in Rule #7 (“Sleep”) and notes that a NASA study “showed that a 26-minute nap improved a pilot’s performance by more than 34 percent.”  While Medina notes that this need to nap is independent of eating a large meal, I recall far too many events during which I nodded off in the session immediately following lunch.

My idea: reserve the hour immediately following lunch for the following options:

  1. A visit to the napping room (perhaps a sponsored napping room at a trade show or conference).
  2. Organized yoga sessions.
  3. Guided walks around the venue (e.g. a historical perspective on the city).
  4. Group discussion walks (i.e. a brisk walk with stops for the group to discuss topics related to the event).
  5. Free time – your chance to catch up on email, return voicemail, etc.

Connect with Attendees Emotionally

In Rule #4 (“Attention”), Medina writes that “emotionally arousing events tend to be better remembered than neutral events.” Reading this reminded me of the famous Maya Angelou quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

But how do you connect with your attendees’ emotions? Here are a few thoughts:

  1. The music you select and play (and, when it’s played).
  2. The quality of the presenters you feature (how will they make your attendees feel?).
  3. Considering the five senses for all touch points (e.g. sight, sound, touch, taste and even smell/aroma).
  4. The element of surprise (in a good way).
  5. The quality of your after-event events.
  6. The friendliness and helpfulness of your event staff.
  7. Over-deliver on attendees’ expectations.
  8. Be unique and differentiated.
  9. Inspire them to go back to the office and act upon something they learned.
  10. Find and provide things that attendees can’t get anywhere else.


Reading “Brain Rules” convinced me that if we can better understand how the brain works, we can effect change (for the better). To invite John Medina to speak at their annual conference, the event planners at PCMA must have drawn the connection between “Brain Rules” and impactful events. Use the Comments area below to share your thoughts on how events can me more impactful. Thanks!

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .

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