We all know what rhythm is — whether you have any or not — but what does it have to do with meetings?
The dry definition describes rhythm as “timed movement through space” and says that the “presence of rhythm creates predictability and order in a composition.” Think about it this way – when you’re listening to a song you like and know well, you can really get into it because it’s familiar, and you know what’s coming next. Or maybe it’s like the blues, where the words of any particular song might be different, but that deep, driving rhythm is the same.
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How to establish event rhythm
Establishing a predictable rhythm for your meeting lets attendees relax by supporting their basic expectations of the flow of the event — that “timed movement through space.” Here’s where it gets tricky, though: There’s a lot of conversation out there about how boring meetings are and how we should all be finding ways to keep things fresh.
This is what I think: You should always try new things and experiment with formats to keep attendees interested and the meeting relevant, but the idea that everything about your meeting should be constantly reinvented is flawed and potentially dangerous. The freshness and excitement of the meeting should come from the content not the agenda!
People want to know what to expect at the meeting or conference they attend every year. You don’t want them worrying that they will miss something or get anxious because every time they come you put the keynote speaker in a different time slot or your breakouts start at different times every day.
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We all know that most meeting attendees don’t pay that much attention to the on-site program and, most likely, your attempts to shake things up will only result in making people angry. Putting your audience off balance is not the way to keep them coming back. Give them something they can count on and let them feel the rhythm of the event. You can increase and decrease the tempo, but the ebb and flow should be something attendees can get to know instinctively – leaving them relaxed and open to your message.
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