Making Big Meetings Big Fun

From today's Dept. of It Doesn't Take Much, we learn how little it can take to "Turn Your Trade Show into a FUNvention." The article, from Ronald P. Culberson - "director of everything" at "FUNsulting," shows how a little imagination, and an even smaller investment, can transform a large conference or meeting into a memorable event. "Activities that evoke laughter and fun at conventions," Culberson writes, "are powerful ways to keep participants engaged and excited about being there."

My favorite example:

"According to Janet Delph of EXPERT Magazine, CNN Headline News anchor Bob Losure used a talk show format, instead of the typical speech, to interview top executives in a general session at the 2003 OfficeMax national convention. The 1,100 attendees rated it the best session ever."

Favorite, because the whole idea is so easy, on everybody. For Losure, this was a lot easier than preparing a speech, and a lot less threatening. The same is true of the executives he interviewed. In fact, they got to feel "extra special" because it was just like being on TV, almost. For the attendees, it was a welcome break from a long speech, informative, yet in a format that bordered on entertainment.

Here's a slightly more elaborate example:

"During the breaks between general sessions, one government agency showed photos taken at the conference and added funny captions. Two minutes before the start of each session, the music from Jeopardy would begin playing, and a timer would count down the time to the session. Before long the attendees were laughing at the photos and humming to the Jeopardy tune."

And then there's this:

"Lou Heckler, a speaker and coach from Gainesville, Florida, attended a convention at which the 'talk of the conference' was a buffet breakfast table backed up to a "stage" of risers. On the stage was a full bedroom scene - complete with a nightstand, lamps, chair, dresser, and bed with a real person in it. Participants assumed the person was a mannequin until they approached the buffet, and the person said, 'Good morning!'"

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