Add More Meaning to Meetings: Janet Sperstad Tells Us How

October 12, 2017
Janet Sperstad speaks at IMEX.

Janet Sperstad speaking on Purposeful Meetings at IMEX.

What separates a “wow” meeting, conference or event from just an OK or average one? And what is that special “something” that gives a meeting gravitas — that extra edge that creates experiences, memories and ah-ha’s (or magical) moments that stick around long after the fact?

Some of us might say it’s the people and networking, others engaging content and learning. An immersive design or fresh format may jazz some. Still many like cool technology or a unique hands-on activity.

IMEX believes it’s all these things, plus shifting the way we approach planning meetings by understanding and employing Purposeful Meetings thinking.

IMEX’s Talking Point (annual theme) for 2017 is Purposeful Meetings, meetings that are satisfying, engaging, have lasting positive value and create a common, authentic experience. One of the key tenants behind Purposeful Meetings is to focus on our attendees as human beings first and how human beings learn, think, connect and perform.

To bring that concept to life and offer practical advice, a keynote with Janet Sperstad, CMP and Program Director at Madison College in Wisconsin kicked off the IMEX week at Smart Monday with energy, insights and brainy tips.

Centering on a new industry whitepaper she led called “Purposeful Meetings: How to Plan with Deeper Meaning, Innovation and Insight in Mind,” Janet focused on  the five pillars of Purposeful Meetings and how to leverage them: Behavioral Science, Health & Well-being, Event Design, CSR & Legacy, and Technology.

She urged the crowd (linked in via real time polls on “To think beyond T-shirts, lanyards, places and spaces to people.”

And they got it … “The brain is the most amazing thing but we’re not always educated on what makes our attendees or sales prospects tick. This session gave me a lot of new ideas,” said Melanie Hoover, CTA Assistant Vice President of Marketing & Sales for the Fort Worth Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.

Cool Tips with Purpose
All sounds good right but how do we do that? Janet’s remarks and the whitepaper — sponsored by IMEX and PSAV and now available on the IMEX App and following the show on the IMEX America website — connect the dots with tangible tactics.

Some of these include:

  • Add in cognitive breaks to refresh the mind – be it for quiet time, fresh air or even natural light.
  • Put the most complex content and thinking in the morning, and (surprisingly) after lunch provided it’s a content-free zone.
  • Use audio-scaping, lighting or guided-meditation to get moods and brains relaxed and more receptive to learning.
  • Create nooks in quiet corners for people to unplug, or even take short power naps (gasp!).
  • Give attendees a sense of belonging and meaning through hands on CSR & sustainability programs.
  • Transport people to a different place with invigorating or chill-worthy images or virtual reality.

Other attendees at the keynote connected to the message too. “So much budget is invested in meetings and it’s really smart to understand how engagement and experience is affected by our minds and bodies,” said John Leinen, vice president of sales for Visit Madison. “I’ll be thinking about how I structure the next agenda for my team from this talk today.”

Can’t Get Enough of Purposeful Meetings?

Extending the Purposeful Meetings mantra beyond the Monday keynote, Janet also moderated a Purposeful Meetings panel with meeting industry movers and shakers including: Tahira Endean, CMP, DES, CED,event producer at BC Innovation Council; Inspirational futurist, strategist, event architect and MCI Sustainability Services head Guy Bigwood; Claire Smith, vice president of sales and marketing at the Vancouver Convention Centre; and Dr. Amanda Cecil of Indiana University’s Tourism, Convention and Event Management faculty and co-author on the new Purposeful Meetings whitepaper.

During show time, Janet and Dr. Cecil led Purposeful Meetings sessions at the Inspiration Hub Tuesday and Wednesday. Janet and IMEX’s own Dale Hudson, director of knowledge and events, hosted a Thursday Inspiration Hub session, “Purposeful Meetings and white space — what does it mean to you?”

For more information about IMEX America 2017, click here.

Back To Top