Working in NYC, I see a lot of lost people. And I don’t mean the ones that just can’t figure out what to do with their lives (though there are quite a few of those). I mean the people that actually can’t find the way to their destinations. I either get stopped by someone looking for directions or see someone poring over a map on a daily basis.
It’s a bit easier to understand the confusion downtown, where there is no rhyme or reason…but harder to take from Houston up, where the city is a perfectly numbered grid. Except for Madison, Park, Lex… Okay, I take it back.
Just when you think you’ve finally got it down, Broadway shows up—dissecting the city and throwing you for a wayfinding loop.
Spotting these lost souls trolling the streets is not difficult. Their faces hold some combination of the following: anxiety, bewilderment and frustration.
No one likes to be lost: if nothing else, it makes us feel out of control and unsafe.
At a meeting, we do our best to make sure people don’t ever feel out of control or unsafe…. lost.
Of course we have signage up directing them from breakout to general session to lunch. That’s not the kind of ‘lost’ I’m trying to avoid.
When a meeting’s content, theme, schedule, speakers, scenic, etc. are disconnected, they present an experience as dissected and confusing as Manhattan to a non-native.
Like this: Just after an attendee has a satisfying experience listening to the keynote speaker stressing the need for solidarity in the company, they walk into a breakout where the facilitator leads an exercise on spreading out company resources, dividing and conquering. The seating in the general session surrounds a thrust stage, suggesting transparency and intimacy, yet the content is delivered in crowded PowerPoint slides that support a didactic, one-way lecture without interaction.
What happens? The attendee gets lost.
Let’s help them find their way.
The meeting equivalent of an intuitively laid out city (and really good GPS), is a meeting that revolves around the single-minded thought. When strategy and tactics connect to one thought only (eg. Solidarity, Independence, Innovation, etc.), at each and every moment of the meeting, there is no opportunity for confusion.
Single-minded means that from the invite to the post-meeting follow-up, every piece of the meeting is connected. Like wayfinding directionals for the attendees who must be moved from point A to point B (literally and behaviorally) during the meeting experience. And, yes, like friendly New Yorkers more than happy to explain that above 14th street, there is, as disorienting as it may seem when there’s a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th, no 4th Avenue.