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Unlock Collective Intelligence: Game-changing Hacks for your Summits & Conferences

Making plans is one thing. Getting everyone to act is another. Still, many conferences and summits could have a lot more impact if they effectively engaged the brainpower in the room. What if you could transform traditional conferences into more generative experiences that tap into the collective intelligence of the attendees? 

We propose using the power of 3: 

  • Inspire to help create insights, challenge the status quo and stretch the attendees out of their comfort zone. 

  • Visualise to make it fun and engaging, but also to help the audience digest the content that is being shared during and after the event.

  • Co-create to show they are not alone and tap into the collective intelligence. This is also where you create the coalition of the willing, a small group of people that lead the change. 

The power of 3

These three combined create ideal conditions for group genius to emerge and spark the audience with insights and ideas that will accelerate the transformation process significantly. 

In what follows, we describe 4 hacks that unlock this group intelligence, elevating the conference experience and creating generative audience engagement.

Hack 1: Be clear on what problem you are trying to solve 

When you start planning, take a step back and get aligned on what problem(s) you want to solve with your event. 

  • Formulate a “power question” that defines the focus and desired outcomes for your conference. 

  • Use this in your planning, to keep focus but also clearly communicate the event's power question in your invitations, agenda and themes to manage attendee expectations, speakers and event professionals 

  • Use the power question throughout your conference and keep an eye on it as the event progresses, making sure you stay on track and really address the power question. 

The power question will help you create a shared vision for your summit or conference. 

Hack 2: Tell stories that people remember

Conferences and summits can be tiring or even plain boring. Attendees are often overwhelmed with packed agendas. Storytelling helps them remember, but it also taps into people’s imagination, inspires them and creates connections. This will help you get (or keep) people on board and inspire them to action.

The stories told by speakers during your conferences should be compelling pitches that help explain what problems and opportunities are observed, what must happen to address them and how everyone can contribute.

Therefore, brief your speakers to tell:

  • Stories that inspire.

  • Stories that stretch the audience.

  • Stories that help see new things or things from a different perspective.

  • Stories that are memorable.

  • Stories that invite the audience to act, to react, to interact.

“Humans think in stories, and we try to make sense of the world by telling stories” - Yuval Noah Harari

Coach all speakers to turn their presentations into stories that matter to the audience. Here are a few storytelling tips and tricks. We're using the typical fairy tale flow to help you understand:

  • "Once upon a time there was a princess called Rapunzel..." Start with a strong opening. Describe the context, the starting point, and make it resonate with the target audience. Make them relate to the characters in your story. 

  • "But then the evil witch put a curse on the princess and locked her up in the tower..." Make the problem statement clear. Ask yourself how they can feel the pain.

  • "So Rapunzel decided to let grow her hair, so the prince could climb up the tower..." When you propose solutions, make sure you describe the journey and articulate the different steps, demonstrating how they take away the pain. Use real cases if you can. 

  • "And after they locked up the witch, they lived happily ever after..." End on a high. Describe the prize, the reward, and the value for the audience.

"Shoot for the heart, capture the mind and make them smile." - Visual Senseformers.

Here are a few tips on your delivery that can dramatically increase the impact:

  • Use storytelling with personal anecdotes and humour to make it engaging and trigger emotions.

  • Use voice, pace, and body to deliver the message.

  • If you use slides, visuals, video, or sound, ask yourself if it serves your purpose. Better be high on visuals and low on text, and by all means... Please limit the number of slides. 

  • Facts, statistics and data points are great to back your story but ask yourself if you really need them on the slide to deliver your message. You could mention it as you tell your story or keep them close in case people ask questions or challenge you, but you don't always need to put them on your slides.

Hack 3: Visually harvest insights to keep track

Inspiring is important, but how do you keep track of inputs and how do you drive action? And how do you make sure you don't lose valuable insights?

That's where visual facilitation comes in. Visual notes make it easier for the audience to digest what has been covered using the visual sense. When done well, this stimulates group learning, increases participation and creates a collective memory of the event, reminding people of what must happen.

  • Get professional visual facilitators to visually record or facilitate your conference using large murals, preferably on stage or projected. 

  • Make sure to foster interaction with the visual harvest. Build a wall with what you visually harvested so far, to keep track of where you are. It helps people remember and connect.

  • Visually brand your event. The visual facilitator can draw a simple event logo inspired by the power question. Keep this simple and use it across your event communication channels and branding (e.g. invitations, badges, way-finding signs, LinkedIn, etc.).

  • Walk the wall. The visual facilitator can briefly comment on what he or she has drawn, to give an outside view of what he or she heard and felt. Another option is to invite people to take 5 to 10 minutes to literally walk the wall and look at the visuals. This is great at the end of the day or the beginning of each additional day for multiple-day events to recap what you've done.

Hack 4: Instant Connection & Engagement

Promote connection and engagement through innovative co-creative methods. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that:

  • Icebreakers. Ask people to engage using flipcharts, interaction walls or digital collaboration tools. We like simple icebreakers, for instance the guardian and the footprint, but there are many other variations.

  • Interaction walls. These are walls that invite people to interact. For example: stick a sheet of paper on the wall, draw an elephant on it, and invite people to write their elephants in the room on sticky notes. 

  • Break-outs. Organise co-creation sessions, breaking up the group into smaller teams. Keep it simple and intuitive with easy-to-understand visual templates. 

  • Pitch the key insights and results of your co-creation in the plenary session in a fun and snappy way.

  • Connect it all. For exampleallow people to remove elephants when they've been addressed. Or send them to look at the visual harvest before they go into break-outs.

In conclusion, transforming events into generative experiences requires not only planning but also creativity and commitment. Do not underestimate the attendee experience. By combining the power of inspiration, visualisation and co-creation, you can make a huge difference in turning your conferences into memorable events that inspire, connect, and drive meaningful change.

Are you ready to unlock the full potential of collective intelligence in every room?


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