The FIFA World Cup uses the storyline: “One game changes everything.” With the World Cup, FIFA is creating incredible national and global communities all around an event. NIKE is even taking it a step further with their “Write the Future” campaign invoking fans and athlete celebrities from around the world to dream their own story of success around the World Cup…and NIKE products of course.
As meeting professionals, we believe human connections are the most powerful forces accessible to mankind—they build community, inspire innovation, activate leadership and create opportunities. That’s why we can confidently say, “When we meet, we change the world.”
There seems to be no end to the challenges facing humans these days: economic crises, volcanic ash, oil spills. But I also believe that connecting people and their ideas are fundamental to finding solutions we could never have imagined on our own. Never have there been so many cultures and perspectives to connect with. Never have there been so many connection channels for people to use (or abuse). The art, science and magic of creating human connections in a complex world has never been more valuable than right now. And meeting and event professionals are virtuosos at creating communities that unleash the energy that proliferates when powerful human connections ignite.
Building community using a meeting as the activation vehicle is not a new idea by any stretch, but its importance as an engagement approach and co-creation engine keeps elevating as our worlds get more complex.
Creating and unleashing community energy is increasingly a powerful and deliberate outcome of a well-designed event in two ways: First, by co-creating innovative solutions to challenges or opportunities, attendees crystallize a powerful spirit of community ownership that almost always results in a greater success rate when the idea is broadly introduced. And for some of the challenges facing nations and organizations at the moment, innovation is essential to their survival. Secondly, meeting attendees develop an enduring common connection to a shared experience, idea or set of values that can be activated at/when needed. Brands such as Apple and Nike use their events by creating experiences to build and activate communities of followers to drive sales and brand buzz that endure well beyond the event itself. The recent iPhone 4 launch event was so successful at driving pre-sales that it overwhelmed the on-line order platform.
Community does not just randomly happen at a meeting or event. It has to be designed by the meeting professional using a balance of provocative inspiration, emotional engagement and attendee participation. Companies such as CISCO are using online games to engage their attendees. TED is so successful at creating community with its attendees (both live and virtual) that the attendees themselves are creating and managing their own TEDx events. A design key to building community at events is unrelenting engagement before, during and after. Resistance is futile. Passive attendance will not change the world.
One game, or meeting, can indeed change everything.