Objective – This group wanted to come together to brainstorm on how to improve their tradeshows at their respective associations. The sizes of the associations and events ranged greatly from very small of 50 booths to large of 400 booths. The challenge was to come up with useful information that the group felt a part of creating. We had one hour to brainstorm, categorize, and summarize our thoughts. There were approximately 25 participants in this meeting.
Setting the stage we shared stories of what experiences we have had of a successful trade show events. These can be ones that we were responsible for producing or ones that we attended. The participants shared ideas of what they had remembered from a good experience.
Next we talked about how it felt to be a part of that experience from a participants point of view as well as from the organizers’ point of view. Participants talked about the feeling that they had when it went well and the feedback from others when it goes well. The group discussed what surprised them about this part of their event.
Taking these positive events, we shared stories about what these types of events did for the organizations. Did it bring people closer together, create a sense of “family” or what was the result of these activities. In addition we discussed what would have they done differently knowing what they now know.
After setting the tone, and getting everyone to feel comfortable in sharing, each person was instructed to write out 4 – 5 ideas on large 5″ x 9″ cards, that they thought would contribute to a successful tradeshow. The group was directed to express their ideas in 3-5 words.
After 5 minutes we formed groups of 3 – 4 people. Each group had to negotiate and select the top 3 ideas and pass them forward to the facilitator. We discussed each idea very briefly before placing them on the sticky wall. When the top 3 ideas from each group were on the wall, we asked for one representative from each team to come up and to sort them into similar groups. They were able to move any of the cards around at any time. After grouping the ideas, we asked for their next best 2-3 cards per group and as we talked about them, we placed them with their groups. The participants agreed on the placement and clarity of the ideas.
After asking if there were any unique ideas not represented on the board, we named the groups of ideas. Categories were assigned such as communication, layout, activities, and fun. it was apparent that the “fun” category had the most items under it.
We again reviewed the ideas represented and asked for any thing that may be missing. A few more ideas were contributed and the cards were placed with the appropriate groups. Lastly the group reflected on if they had any ideas of things that they would like to try out right away at their event. We discussed what the best use of this information is and what we should do next with it. The group decided we wanted to capture these items in a shared website and refine them annually for future use. They want to take 2-3 items and make them into more detail as in a “how-to’ manual for that type of event.