Gamification in the meetings you plan next can help foster confidence with your attendees.
What is your organization’s most valuable asset: Employees? Customers? Intellectual property? Leadership? Brand? I believe your most valuable asset is none of the above. Your ace in the hole is actually something more intangible, yet invaluable: the attention of employees, customers and meeting attendees.
After all, to successfully recruit an executive, sell a product or stage a meeting, you must first capture someone’s attention. (Doubt it? Have you made it to this part of the magazine without thinking about checking your email, whether to have more coffee or what might be Tweet-worthy?)
Getting—and keeping—the attention of audiences is the holy grail of our industry. And when you’ve captured people’s attention, they will be more focused, more able to learn, more likely to have the mental bandwidth and social willingness to collaborate and solve pressing challenges.
So, what’s an exceptionally powerful way to create meeting content that’s worth participants’ attention? There’s actually an “app” for that: a well-designed game aligned with your meeting objectives.
Participatory games, like meetings, teach us that we are all connected—and in the language of this publication, that we are all One+. Going it alone, playing “solitaire,” thinking “us” vs. “them” is shortsighted and dangerous. The most successful meetings are collaborative think tanks (“hive minds”) in which the organization’s challenges are tackled.
Meetings win for the same reasons that strategically designed games for meetings capture and maintain our interest. Games, like business, are about:
- Winning and adding to one’s assets
- Collectively building something meaningful
- Problem solving in an environment where knowledge is democratized
- Continuous process improvement
Here’s a seven-point, attention-grabbing business case for gamifying your events, satisfying attendees’ left and right brains as well as bringing confidence to the C-suite. After all, integrating games into meetings teaches teamwork, collaboration and competing for the greater good. And no matter how you measure that, it’s an epic win. Some games can feel frivolous—like clowns at a GSA meeting. Yet when you dig deeper and plan effectively, you can reach a high score on your meeting game.
Seven Attention-grabbing Ingredients for Effectively Gamifying Your Meeting
1. Ask WHY. John Chen, CEO for Seattle, WA-based Geoteaming, believes your very first step is to ask: Why are we including a game in our event? What result do you want? What challenges do we want to solve? If you don’t ask, you’ll likely be entertained—but you won’t enjoy deeper levels of attention or results. Elizabeth Henderson, chief sustainability strategist for Meeting Change consultancy, reinforces Chen’s comments, adding that games for the sake of gaming are not very engaging. Rather, your attendees will engage in and be attentive to the gaming experience when games address what they most want to do: learn, compete, collaborate and problem solve. Bells, whistles and badges are nice, but be sure to connect to something substantial and more intrinsic in your participants.
2. Small can be big. The Give to the Max Day: A Washington fundraiser paid off in spades, because it introduced gamification as a way to drive up individual donations and participation by getting a large population of people to give smaller gifts rather than a small population of givers to give high-dollar gifts. Applying this to meetings, how can you involve many more participants who “attend” your meeting virtually and are able to compete, share and/or collaborate via a game—and then pay to attend in person next time?
3. Know how your attendees want to engage. Henderson explains that you must know your audiences’ engagement preferences. Those older than 50 will likely not be incentivized to Tweet to compete, and in fact will be distracted, not attentive. Which common gaming categories do your attendees fall into? Socializer, Achiever, Killer or Explorer? Note, too, that we are not all incentivized by competition.
4. Make prizes relevant. An iPad isn’t always the answer, according to Russell Brumfield, CEO of Wizard Event Technologies. Since winning a prize conveys status, plan accordingly. If an Olympian is your headlining speaker, participants will be more incentivized to win your game in order to meet her than to win a computer.
5. A means, not an end. According to Gabe Zichermann, chair of the Gamification Summit and Workshops: invest for the long haul. Gamification is a journey, not a destination. He adds, know your metrics: what are you specifically trying to achieve—measurably—and how will you design your game to get there?
6. Make an integrated plan. Always form your strategic game plan with the end in mind, clearly noting objectives, securing buy-in from the top and building integration among meeting goals, audience composition and social media efforts. Additionally, to get and keep gamers’ attention, your game must assimilate the overall event narrative you’re telling. Does the game reinforce and further your story and your meeting objectives? Can people restate them? Or is the game an odd, obligatory attempt to check the “we-have-our-game-on” box?
7. Don’t get Angry. Zichermann adds that you need not mimic a popular game to succeed. That is, you needn’t play “Angry Birds for Association Professionals” to get and keep meeting goers’ attention.
In her compelling book Now You See It—with many applications to gaming and meetings—author Cathy Davidson writes, “Through game play—in which a need to know focuses our attention, motivates our search for skills and knowledge, and tells us how to deploy them—we develop the confidence to feel not like underdogs but like talented, skilled, competent winners.”
So has the need to gamify your meeting grabbed your attention yet? One+
business of meetings,
future of meetings,
One+ August 2012