Meetings Memo: Future Formats

Conference structure in the years to come, according to the German Convention Bureau's Future Meeting Space research project.

How different will meetings look in the future? That’s the question the German Convention Bureau sought to answer with its Future Meeting Space research project. The project, which GCB undertook in partnership with the European Association of Event Centres and Fraunhofer Institute of Industrial Engineering, revealed six conference formats that will likely grow in popularity in the years ahead.

Coworking Conference. This format spreads meeting modules over more days and provides dedicated spaces and timeslots to attend to items back at the office. Attendees are more autonomous in this approach, yet still focused on meeting goals, and given more opportunity to network and share knowledge informally.

Hybrid Conference. This model, with time and cost savings in mind, features both physical and digital meeting spaces. Both sets of participants are linked to the same content, agenda, and knowledge sharing in real time. Group discussions and networking are part of the mix.

Interactive Forum. These meetings start with plenaries, which provide a roadmap for discussion. Attendees then break into small groups to dive deeper, debate, and build on these topics. Afterwards, ideas are aggregated and shared back with the whole group to create connections, highlight common challenges and opportunities, and identify next steps.

Multisite Conference. A main meeting is held across several places simultaneously, with about 50 people at each venue. Livestreaming connects the meeting locations and attendees with a common agenda. Individual locations can break off and address local and regional topics as well.

Unplugged Conference. This meeting deliberately picks a remote location where up to 50 participants can disconnect from daily work demands and outside distractions. Knowledge sharing, rather than technology and device connection, is encouraged in this format.

Virtual-goes-live Conference. In this approach, a group that has previously existed only online comes together face to face. The purpose is to create deeper connections that will enrich ongoing online interaction.

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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