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Are you listening to attendees or talking at them? Over the past fifteen years we’ve had the privilege of being a part of some of the biggest corporate events across the globe. Time and time again, we’ve found that when you get beyond the flash and sizzle, celebrity speakers, and exotic destinations, the most successful events are the ones that tap into the power of attendees.

Last month we discussed the qualities needed to ensure that your keynote presentations captivate audiences in the way hit songs do [A Great Keynote is Like a Hit Song]. While keynotes help to neatly package your event messaging and give your audiences a chance to process days of information, they can still benefit by including attendees in the conversation.

A recent article published by MPI [source: mpiweb.org] discussed a program called BIZnet, created by National Tour Association (NTA) to address this very challenge. This innovative program forgoes the traditional opening general session in favor of a discussion platform that effectively sources business solutions from event attendees. Attendees rotate through discussion groups interacting on key topics related to the business, many of which are crowdsourced from attendees prior to the event, and ideas are shared with the room between each rotation. This process gives attendees the opportunity to connect on business challenges, engages them in the conversation, and enables them to drive the solution.

One of the main reasons this is effective is that it relies on ‘active learning’ as opposed to ‘passive’ or ‘lecture-style’ learning. Studies show measurably higher workplace skills (i.e. collective problem-solving, leadership, team behavior, and working with complex ideas) when concepts are taught through focused activities as opposed to lecture [source: Duke University, Learning Innovation].

It’s a simple, yet profound concept – better your event outcomes by mining the knowledge within your company through group activities. You have talented and creative people throughout your company. Allow your event to inspire their ideas, not dictate them, and then give attendees the stage to be rockstars.

But, do so cautiously. When it comes to active learning, you can have ‘too much of a good thing’. In the study referenced earlier, class time for the ‘active learning’ sample was split, ⅔ activities to ⅓ lecture. Humans need balance and portion control. Sometimes we just need a moment to let someone else do the thinking and allow our brains to recover, process, and absorb. In doing so, we reach fatigue less often and retain more.

At SongDivision, we recognize this need for balance – music, in and of itself, is inherently ‘balanced’. Listening to music activates creative and analytical functions in our brains, while playing music amplifies this effect tenfold [source: Anita Collins]. When it comes to meetings and events, music can be used to produce both active and passive programming that creatively engages your attendees, activates their brains in just the right ways – but not overly so – and allows for thoughtful interaction that produces real results.

Each of our services consciously balances activity with entertainment to ensure your attendees have the time of their lives, while also thinking meaningfully about the brand. And, our activities require no musical experience whatsoever.

Song Slams challenge your teams to translate your purpose into song, working in groups that discuss key messaging, write a song about it, and later perform it in a battle-of-the-bands competition backed by our world class musicians.

Team Anthems allow your general sessions of up to 10,000 attendees the opportunity to collectively write a song that represents your brand. Our experienced facilitators and musicians are there to guide the process, inspire the group, and generate conversation around key topics.

Keynotes are delivered by our renowned musician-facilitators with a focus on storytelling using music as the central theme. SongDivision crafts these interactions to be purposeful, catchy, compelling and inspirational, as discussed in our Keynotes article last month [A Great Keynote is Like a Hit Song]. To accomplish this, we strike a balance between engaging storytelling and active music creation to get your attendees thinking critically and involved in the moment.

When it comes to programming truly engaging events that inspire teams and produce real ROI, finding the right balance between active and passive learning is everything. No matter how you strike this balance, providing your attendees with a platform to express their ideas is a sure bet for producing measurable results.


See what music can do for your events.
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