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"Neuroscience and the Art of Meeting Planning"

Posted Nov 05 2010 12:00am

This article has some good brain-friendly tips for designing an event. Excerpt:

What does neuroscience have to do with conducting great meetings? Plenty, as evidenced by a recent virtual global leadership meeting for Cisco that was structured around key neuroscience principles.

Regina Gordon, marketing programs manager for Cisco, worked with consultant Lynn Randall at Maritz, the travel consulting company, to use neuroscience to make the Cisco meeting less complicated and more productive.

In pre-meeting talks, Randall made neuroscience sound like “exactly what we needed as we moved from a live to a virtual event,” Gordon told Travel Market Report. “We couldn’t take wild guesses on how to get people to pay attention; we needed to deal with how people are actually built and how they function.”

A meeting planner who uses neuroscience principles to engage meeting participants can better transfer knowledge and information. “At its core,” she said, “you hold a meeting to transfer beliefs; and you can only enable this transfer if you capture the attention of attendees.”

And that means preventing brain meltdown.


[V]isual elements are crucial according to neuroscience principles. Noted Randall, “Your memory is made up of a bunch of pictures whereas usually a PowerPoint shows type on a page which is far more difficult for the brain to retain.”


Weeks before the event attendees were provided with information through videos and documents, allowing for a period of passive reflecting. Once the virtual conference began – conducted via teleconferencing and Web – connections were made. The testing period involved talking through the information, writing it down, and sharing it with each other after the event.


“The biggest principle was the human learning cycle,” Gordon said. “We were giving them a ton of information and we had to insure they would be able to process it.”

Based on neuroscience principles, more visuals were incorporated and the meeting took into consideration the natural attention spans of delegates; the 7- to 10-minute standard was made part of every presentation.

Editor’s Note: Lynn Randall is conducting a webinar for Meeting Professionals International on “The Neuroscience of Effective Events” on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m., EST. Regina Gordon will also participate. The Webinar is free. See for details.

Unfortunately the sign-up process for the free Webinar " The Neuroscience of Effective Events " led me down a confusing and time-consuming series of e-events and I never could sign up. Not very brain-friendly. Let me know if you have better luck and how you registered.

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