Re-thinking how we learn

Knowledge transfer

Author: Matthias Schultze, Managing Director GCB German Convention Bureau e.V.

Sitting in a conference hall and listening to someone at the front going through their power point presentation? That's the past. Today, knowledge transfer is interactive, more mobile and aims at providing an experience. This creates new challenges for event organisers and venue operators.

The MICE industry is undergoing rapid change and digital transformation is unstoppable. As a result, the behaviour of meeting participants changes and becomes more individualised: they want to become more active, take part in proceedings and have a say. In addition, the fact that everything is digitally connected and that everyone uses smartphones and tablets means that knowledge is not tied to one location and can be imparted at short notice. Individual communication and collaboration is always possible, no matter how far away people are from each other. Event organisers and venue operators are therefore faced with five major challenges when planning congresses and meetings and deciding on methods and formats of knowledge transfer:

1. Digitising content

The meaningful integration of online-based technologies is a definite added value for participants. Therefore, all relevant information, studies and presentations should be made available online, e.g., on an internet platform or via an app. Not only does this enlarge the potential group of participants; it also makes knowledge transfer more efficient because participants have direct access to presentations online, can follow talks in a more concentrated way and add their own comments to individual slides of presentations.

2. Encouraging interaction

 Participants want to expand their knowledge; they want to analyse what they know with others and put into practice what they've learned. Interaction and exchange are increasingly taking centre stage. Connecting participants with each other can be encouraged through the use of digital interpreters and large-format, intuitive collaboration tools. Innovative formats (innovation boot camps, TED talks, World Café, etc) as well as new technologies (holograms, tangible media, Bluescape, etc) can be deployed to foster interaction. Another option: add virtual spaces to real-world events to provide another opportunity for participants to network and interact.

3. Supporting the establishment of networks

Networking is crucial for business. Supporting the establishment of long-term networks and personal interaction between meeting participants have therefore become paramount. There are two ways for organisers to encourage networking: On the one hand, they can provide digital matchmaking tools prior to the event that participants can use to inform about their interests and preferred topics . Organisers can then match participants based on these preferences. On the other hand, they can and should also focus more on social networks (FB, Twitter) and use these platforms to increase the exchange of ideas, opinions, experiences and information in order to support networking.

4. Adapting venues

The requirements that meeting and event rooms need to fulfil are changing. They not only need to enable participants to concentrate on proceedings and foster motivation but also encourage interaction and collaboration. This requires rooms of different sizes, flexible set-ups (seating arrangements, furnishing, technical equipment, etc) as well as equipment that can be operated intuitively and booked individually. It goes without saying that a secure, stable and free-of-charge wireless network needs to be provided as well as sufficient socket outlets and options to charge smartphones, notebooks and tablets.

5. Addressing all senses

For an event to be memorable it needs to create a special as well as an emotional experience. This does not mean that you have to put on an elaborate show. It is much more about interacting with participants and participants interacting with each other through the use of innovative formats that address and stimulate all senses. Playful elements are particularly suitable in this context: speed dating, for example, is a format that works very well at the start of an event for participants to easily get to know each other. It creates a positive and constructive atmosphere that not only makes participants more receptive but also more willing to actively contribute to the event.



The "Future Meeting Room" scenario shows how events can promote interactive knowledge transfer. It was developed by the "Future Meeting Space" innovation network that was set up by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC) and the GCB German Convention Bureau.