30 Oct 2019

How to inspire and engage attendees with interactive events

Best practice: The GCB German Convention Bureau’s Digital and Innovation Day 2018

“How to become a digital hero”: In December 2018, the GCB invited attendees to take part in the “Digital & Innovation Day” (#DigiDay) in Frankfurt and go on their own personal “hero’s journey” to get fitter for the digital world. During the one-day event, about 100 event professionals learned which “superpowers” they already have with regards to tools, skills and mindset, and in which areas they need more training.

After the facial recognition check-in process, the aspiring superheroes were greeted by deliberately “unarranged” beanbags, cube seating and colourful chairs, clearly indicating that this day would be all about interaction, spontaneity and creativity. “Today, we’ll move – and not just digitally,” as GCB managing director Matthias Schultze put it in his welcoming words.

Interaction instead of boring power point decks

Anybody expecting classroom-style lectures was in for a surprise. Straight after a short introduction, attendees were asked to get active. The task: Think of a question around our new flexible and agile ways of working and question as many participants as possible about it. The results were then shared and presented in small groups, also using magnetic and writable walls around the room. The activity enabled people to get to know each other while talking about something that everyone is engaged with. All attendees could get involved and were able to share their ideas and experiences.

Does tech know-how make you a “digital hero”?

How “digitalised“ am I? Many event professionals ask themselves this question, even though digital tools have long become part and parcel of their everyday life. But does their mastery alone turn us into “digital heroes”?

Innovation expert Dr. Torsten Wingenter answered this question in his tools workshop, saying that being tech-savvy is not the decisive factor: “The idea someone has of an event is more important than simply understanding technology.” His tip: Let’s focus on our strength – the human factor – and get tech support at different points of the customer journey along the way. In the end, event attendees and how they can benefit from tools used are much more important than any specific digital tool as such.

Superheroes make no mistakes (yes, they do!)

Keynote speaker and consultant Christiane Brandes-Visbeck also focussed on the human factor. For her, digitalisation is a new way of entrepreneurial thinking, of making decisions and engaging employees by recognising their strengths and not what they lack.

This aspect, in fact, popped up again and again throughout the day: Just like “real” superheroes, “digital heroes” do not need to be perfect. Daring to do something new means making mistakes – and in a culture of “yes, and” instead of “yes, but” this should be expressly allowed.

Which values do “digital heroes“ fight for?

The digital transformation comes with major changes for our working world. It also creates new scope for us to do what we enjoy and releases our superpowers. In a mindset workshop, the #DigiDay attendees collected what they care about in this context. Mainly values such as respect, trust, freedom, flexibility, openness, empathy and loyalty came to the fore. Collaboration is another very important aspect and was explored in a skills workshop in the context of the “Lego challenge”. This seemingly trivial task involved participants taking Lego bricks from A to B while following certain rules and resulted in the learning: “All of us together are always better than one of us alone.”

Yoga to counter the post-lunch slump

We all know that moment after lunch when energy levels start to drop. At #DigiDay, a yoga session countered that dreaded feeling. The gentle physical moving provided everyone with a boost to start the next workshop with renewed energy.

Success thanks to networking and co-creation

#DigiDay18, with its gamified and interactive formats, such as interviewing each other or a final “snowball fight” with participants writing down their key learnings on pieces of paper, throwing them around and discussing them with each other, was not just an entertaining journey. It also provided lots of food for thought to make the attendees better equipped for the digital age, with everyone being able to go their own way and discover their own personal superpower. It also became clear that the journey is not over yet. Digital heroes are asked to continuously develop and learn – and in this sense, #DigiDay18 was only the first step on the way.