Today’s workforce lives in a time of growing disruption and uncertainty, where the pace of change is only continuing to accelerate. We’re all being asked to absorb more information faster than ever.

Consider some of these key stats related to corporate meetings during the pandemic era, compiled from various surveys by AI company

  • The remote work model has increased weekly meeting time by 10 per cent, resulting in three additional weekly meetings per employee.
  • The number of meetings attended by a worker on average rose by 13.5 per cent.
  • The researchers found a 20.1 per cent decrease in the average length of meetings.

Fundamental Changes  As a keynote speaker who trains executives to adapt to change and uncertainty every year, it’s become clear that many meeting and event formats haven’t evolved to keep pace with the future of work. We need a way to make sense of emerging business topics and technologies more rapidly through formats such as micro-learning, as opposed to the full-course curriculum.

I believe this will be the case in the future, whether meetings are held virtually or in person, as the pandemic has caused fundamental changes in how we interact.

I’ve launched a new methodology for exploring and discussing the impact of breaking topics dubbed Pop Future. It provides a blueprint for making future trends, innovations and business concepts more approachable and simpler for audiences of all backgrounds and skill levels to comprehend and deliver in a radically shorter time by using cartoon animations, illustrated infographics, short film skits, interactive games and other forms of artistic expression to boost engagement, learning and retention.

As corporations are getting back to meetings, some top-line items to think about as attention spans shrink, time spent in offsite meetings is even more valuable, and meeting agendas continue to be compressed, whether online or in-person.

“It’s become clear that many meeting and event formats haven’t evolved to keep pace with the future of work”

Explainer Videos  Insider tip: It often takes as little as 30 seconds for a key concept to click in audiences’ minds when you find the right story to tell or an analogy that helps an otherwise complex concept make sense in an everyday context.

Quick-hit videos of no more than three to five minutes in length can often help you hammer home the impact of what might otherwise seem like dry topics, such as cybersecurity or the future of data science, in a more rapid and user-friendly fashion.

Interactive Games and Activities  Listening to a speaker address a topic from the stage can be informative, but most of us learn best by doing, and experience is often the most effective teacher. Think less talk, more action:

Pepper your schedule with more learning exercises, brainstorming activities and creative challenges. You will keep audiences more active and engaged, and you’ll also provide ample chances for them to network, make new connections and learn from others’ ideas and approaches.

Short Films and Documentaries  Zzzz, huh, wha? Oh, sorry, I must’ve dozed off during that dry corporate reel. Trust me: There are 1,001 ways to get important information on your new marketing program or five-year strategic plan that doesn’t have to come off like a canned infomercial. Music videos, comedic skits, behind-the-scenes looks, making-ofs, getting-to-knows, crowdsourced commentary, game show parodies.

When you’re trying to raise awareness or support for an initiative, don’t be afraid to think differently in terms of approach. Just be sure to lead with a strong hook, whether in the form of humour, urgency, impact, etcetera. Remember: Today’s audiences are increasingly tuning out anything that seems even the least bit skippable.

“Look for more opportunities to have presenters speak with audiences, not at them. Conversation is a two-way street”

Contests and Challenges  Rapid-fire brainstorming sessions. Shark Tank-style innovation programs. Strategic planning activities that challenge you to role-play your way through real-world scenarios that may unfold in the future and impact your business.

Again, think of how you can weave more opportunities to learn into your event schedule and incentivise more audience participation by incorporating a healthy sense of competition and good sportsmanship into these programs.

Promote Two-Way Dialogue  Look for more opportunities to have presenters speak with audiences, not at them. The conversation is a two-way street. Possible options might include interactive town-hall-style presentations or panels full of audience polls and questions served up on the fly to participants.

Alternately, they can take the form of call-and-response activities, online group exercises and app-based polls or surveys. However, you tackle the challenge: The fewer time presenters passively present to viewers, and the more they engage in active real-time discussion, the more engaging programs will be from the audience’s perspective.

Let Visuals Tell the Tale  No matter how engaging a presenter is, graphics, animations, videos, illustrations and other visual representations can communicate ideas faster than words.

What’s more, no matter how poetic you can wax in conversation, imagery is often far easier to grasp and understand at a glance and can promote more rapid learning and better retention by serving as a helpful form of mental shorthand.

My advice: Leverage charts, graphics and illustrations wherever possible to simplify ideas, make otherwise dense concepts more approachable, and give viewers a quick, easy entry path into any topic.