If we look at trade shows (trade fairs or exhibitions, if you prefer) over the past decades, the reality is that not much has changed.
Take a look at the following picture of a trade fair back in 1979:
And this is from 2019:
Sure, what people wear has changed. But fundamentally, we are still dealing with the business of selling booth space:
We are still pretty much dealing with the business of exhibitors paying for a physical space where they can showcase their products and services. And exhibitors are still constrained by whatever area they purchase.
Same goes for meetings format. Most of the meetings today are still about people sitting down and listening to one or more speakers. And in this information age of declining attention span, it is not a surprise to see that 73% of people acknowledge doing other work during meetings.
Is the time now ripe for business events to change the formats to make them more effective?
There is already some effort ongoing. Today, we see professionals from the UX & Design field apply design thinking to meetings to explore how to reinvent them. Kevin Hoffman has written a pretty good book about it: Meeting Design. He goes into details on design principles and innovative approaches you can take to transform meetings from boring to creative, from wasteful to productive.
And we also see the concept of open space for events picking up. An open space event kicks off without a strict agenda, but rather with an overall driving purpose or goal. A facilitator then helps to build a working agenda, breakout sessions and real-time presentations. Sounds far-fetched? It’s already happening:
This blog post is part of a series about the opinions that we hold at GEVME. They originate from an article that our CEO Veemal Gungadin posted on LinkedIn. You can find all the blog posts from the series here
About the author: Veemal Gungadin is the CEO of GEVME and also holds the position of Vice President for Digital & Innovation at SACEOS, Singapore’s Business Events Trade Association. He is also an investor in innovative startups and a public speaker on the topic of digital transformation in the business events industry.