Eubea nomination: Moderation and Meeting Design go hand-in-hand

26 september 2016
Categorieën: Art and value of moderation, News
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We are truly proud to be on the shortlist for the European Best Event Awards. Our nomination in the category Meeting Design shows the importance of the seamless integration of moderation and meeting design.
In this project, our client Westland Cheese, meeting design agency MindMeeting and Masters in Moderation cooperated like Siamese triplets. The well-coordinated efforts of all three parties were the main element in creating the success of the bi-annual Westland Family Congress: in our view, only a perfect combination of objectives, meeting design and moderation will produce real ROI

Eubea 2016

“We had the best family congress ever”, says Desiree Westland, one of the members of the congress committee. And in the process whe had so much fun!”
Every two years, the Westland family organizes a congress: family shareholders gather to face the specific challenges of a family-run business. After two – in their own words – ‘average editions’, for 2016 they wanted something special and really effective.
In charge of this years’ family event was the youngest generation of shareholders. Initially, they asked Masters in Moderation only to provide a moderator. But their openness to any suggestion was the start of a unique cooperation.

Objectives

Our first meeting was a ball: the family was full of wild, creative ideas. We loved it (and them). Nevertheless, for the time being, we asked them to forget about themes, formats and so on. We convinced them into formulating clear objectives first.
So the moderation started way before the actual event – as it should be. Working with the Event ROI Institute’s methodology, we discussed in depth, what the congress committee wanted as the ROI of this meeting,
As part of the process, we individually interviewed a carefully selected group of ‘average’ family representatives. It helped us to move from assuming, to actually knowing what the family wanted and (dis)liked.
This probably was the bravest of all steps the congress committee took. And a vital step it was in creating the right programme!

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Budget

The next important decision of this brave bunch of clients, was to allocate a major part of their budget to the design stage. So far, the family was used to start their preparations by booking a 5 star venue & hotel with top-quality food.
In this case they did not book a venue until the requirements were absolutely clear. We first defined what environment would help the moderation of the meeting design most, and only then booked De Kapellerput. Which by the way turned out to be the best venue ever: they really understood the programme design and went out of their way to help us do a perfect moderation!

Design

Once the objectives were clear, we were ready to start designing. As a moderator, meeting design is a natural part of your profession: you know from experience what works, so you are well equipped to advise the meeting owner.
At the same time, you need to know the limits of your skills. So in this case, we decided to bring in a sound dose of specific meeting design power. And because we wanted the best, we cooperated with MindMeeting’s Mike van der Vijver; ranked among the world’s best meeting designers.
And so the Siamese twins became triplets: the Westland family added their insider knowledge and enthusiasm, Masters in Moderation added their content & concept power and MindMeeting offered their immense creativity and sound methodology.

In two meetings, Mike van der Vijver guided us through a brilliant process. The family turned out to be very perceptive to his method of brainstorming and moulding of the programme. In the end it was Mathias Westland, who said: ‘it feels like we are organising a first day in primary school’ … and thus the experience concept was born!
Having obtained the necessary input on objectives, experience and content, Mike started designing. And moderators as we are, Masters in Moderation helped him, by being a sparring partner. Mike said about the process: “It is rare for a client to have the courage and the commitment to get the design process right. The congress committee evidently trusted Masters in Moderation so much that they were incredibly easy to work with.”

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Execution

The execution phase was one of true co-creation. The family did the better part of the actual meeting planning: they found the ideal venue and decorated it to perfection, in line with the desired experience.
On top of that, one of the nieces graphically designed the family-game that was to be played as the main part of the programme (only after the participants had decided on the rules and the challenges to be included in the game) and a ‘be-my-friend-booklet’ for everyone.
Masters in Moderation set out to find the perfect moderator. Kim Coppes was perfectly typecast in her role as schoolteacher-facilitator. And the ‘class’ loved her! She truly understood the meeting design and the need of the participants. About the meeting, Kim said: ‘The format supported the content and objectives perfectly. It was designed with lots of love: imaginative and effective into every detail, and therefor a joy to moderate’.

Conclusion

In order to bring true ROI, great meetings need full integration of clear objectives, great meeting design and brilliant moderation. This project shows without a shadow of doubt, that this is the case for every event; even smaller ones with modest budgets. Or, as Desiree Westland put it: “There was a new surprise every step of the way. And every one turned out to be more effective then we could ever hope for. This project was special in every detail. We were so proud to be the meeting owners of this one”.

We can only hope that the Eubea jury will see the sweeping value in this and award us the trophy.

Jan-Jaap In der Maur