Rapid advances in technology and globalisation have had a significant impact on how business is conducted in the modern workforce. 25 years ago, corporate meetings in Australia were occupied predominantly by white males taking notes with pen and paper, while today the average delegate could be from any part of the globe, equipped with multiple mobile devices. So, what form will meetings and networking events take in the future?
According to research from McCrindle and the Melbourne Convention Bureau, face-to-face contact remains the number one priority for meetings among 89 per cent of those surveyed. Online was a close second with 88 per cent, followed by social media (81 per cent) and event apps (70 per cent).
This wasn’t the only talking point to come out of the study. There are a host of expectations regarding venue spaces, the use of technology, tailoring of communication methods and the nature of attendees.
Typically, technology will play a significant role in how future conferences are conducted. Just as conference calls and Skype have become permanent fixtures in the corporate meeting landscape, new methodologies will do the same. Augmented virtual reality and artificial intelligence are both poised to play a huge part in a bid to enhance interactivity and active participation.
Despite the increase of meetings via Skype or over the phone, venue spaces will be vital in the next few years. Flexibility is one of the key criteria, with members keen to workshop ideas in break out spaces designed for collaboration. Attendees are also interested in voluntourism, a concept that involves exploring the area where the meeting is being held and experiencing the local community.
The nature of communication is set for change as well. Content will be focused more on interaction than information, coinciding with a shift from passive listeners to active participants which could involve contributing or influencing content in real time. Communication methods will not be changed but refined, with messaging via email and social media to become more personalised to the recipient.
Not only will the methods and rationale behind meetings differ but so will those that are attending. The new wave of workers will be socially responsible, tech savvy and time poor, and hence will value holistic solutions, digital competence and flexibility. Attendees will not be taking part in meetings purely to absorb or deliver information. Rather, it will be a professional investment, one with tangible development from human interaction and experimental learning.