Seven principles to organize your seminar
Organizing a seminar and ensuring its success is not that simple... Here are seven principles to guide you in preparing your meeting.
Choose a suitable location
This is obvious, but it is also a question of criteria. A venue is not only defined by the number of participants and the size of the seminar rooms. It must be able to provide all the elements necessary to transform ideas and engage participants: reception, workrooms, auditorium, relaxation area, catering, broadband networks, rooms, security, services... All these logistics must be available and adapted to the specific needs of the company.
Organize the space according to the objectives of the meeting
Non, une table, des chaises, ça ne suffit pas à faire un bon séminaire : l’espace doit être parfaitement adapté au projet. Différents « setups » sont envisageables : en îlot, en U, en théâtre, les possibilités ne manquent pas. Il faut aussi faire attention à l’acoustique de la salle. Par exemple, trop d’écho, trop de lumière, ou pas du tout de fenêtre change complètement l’ambiance de travail.
Involve only the right people in the seminar
Why am I here? This is sometimes the question that some participants ask themselves, because the organizers have mobilized a whole department, without asking themselves if everyone has a contribution to make. "But participants who are not concerned by the subject will be bored, feel they are wasting their time and may even demotivate the others.
Adapt to needs throughout the day
Being adaptable is the key to your success: you need to define in advance ways of organizing yourself to let the participants move around. There is nothing worse than sitting in the same chair in the same place all day. The organization of the space implies a way of working: the room in theater mode is for top-down messages. The U-shaped room is for encouraging participation. The island room for working in small groups. These three organizations can mark an evolution of the work throughout the day: briefing and major objectives, then collective exchanges and finally production of ideas in small groups...
Create rhythm and provide cues
Beyond one hour, you have to change the rules, to provoke breaks to allow the brain to oxygenate itself and to keep its motivation. The day must be sequenced and the timing must be announced regularly from the start. By giving time markers, we concretize the expected steps of the reflection. In this sense, it is necessary to create and maintain the context of the seminar: to remind the objectives, to show the progress and to announce what remains to be done.
Imagine the meeting as an experience
The space makes it possible to stage the day. By modifying the material organization, we create different situations. It is also a way to transform the meeting into an experience, in other words, to make the participants experience a moment of commitment, conviviality and exchange.
This implies limiting the number of participants or, at some point, dividing the participants into teams to encourage them to speak. Be careful, this is not group therapy: you need a facilitator who will lead and guide the discussion. The objective is not to get everyone to speak, but to collect and take into account all ideas.
(This article was prepared with Alexandra Fix of Edge Work, Les Fontaines' event facilitation partner).