Meeting design that Works

Taking stock two years after COVID-19 – what are the key meeting design learnings of the pandemic? How have expectations of in-person meetings changed? What will be the trend-setting meeting concepts in the years to come?

In April 2024, MCI, Allerslev and Workz hosted a symposium of meeting professionals and event planners where we shared insights and learnings on the future of meeting design. As part of the conversations, we identified a short-list of meeting concepts that are on the rise, and that we expect to see much more of in 2024 and beyond.

All the concepts are different answers to the essential questions that all meeting organisers are facing today – why do we need to gather people? Could this just have been an email, an online movie or a virtual call on Teams? Today, bringing people together in real-time is a significant investment, and participants are expecting to get an extraordinary experience that makes a difference.  

Top 10 meeting concepts that inspire us: 


1. Embrace nature

We will see more meetings that either try to bring nature into the conference room or that will bring the meeting into nature. From small gimmicks like ambient soundscapes with nature sounds and bird song, to more radical shifts where traditional meeting venues are replaced with tent-camps in the wilderness. This trend is accelerated by multiple drivers – one is the heightened focus in companies on sustainability and biodiversity, while another influence is the growing awareness on regenerative leadership and the health-benefits of submerging in nature (try to google ‘forest bathing’).   

2. Get personal 

We see a growing appetite for events that take social networking, trust building and personal reflection to the next level. Even in professorial settings, people want to connect on a deep, personal level – sharing authentic stories, learning mistakes and candid reflections. Consider starting your next event by asking your participants to share personal stories at their tables about their biggest challenges as teenagers

3. Stop the clock and get off the grid 

Modern life is high paced and full of screens and distractions. We will see more meetings that make a point about going offline and slowing down time. From depositing smartphones and watches when you check-in at the venue, to working with open agendas without exact deadlines or timeslots e.g. “we will work with this topic until we are done, and we will eat when the sun goes down…”. 

4. Make it playful and fun 

Life is too long for work to be boring. We want to have fun with our colleagues and peers, and we expect to be engaged in playful and interactive ways. We will see fewer events with a traditional agenda structure where serious presentations are followed by an afternoon of light entertainment or team building. People want combined solutions where we have fun while we work with the professional, serious topics. Today, events are not about entertaining or inspiring people as a passive audience. Events must instead enable participants to invest themselves and contribute through gamification, co-creation and active involvement.

5. Embrace the artistic 

People expect emotional engagement and experiences that are more artistic and aesthetic. Going forward, we will see more summit and conference kick-offs where traditional keynotes and corporate movies are replaced with dance performances, musical acts or authentic storytelling. For inspiration, future meeting designers need to go more to concerts and theatre performances. 

6. Make it truly inclusive 

Traditional meeting design usually assumes that participants are a homogenous group. A “one-size fits all” approach. In the future, meeting design will be expected to support inclusion and diversity to a larger extent – from providing more flexibility and customised participant journeys, to the introduction of “quiet zones” where people can take a break from the buzz and socialising at a conference or meeting.    

7. Design Ceremonies and rituals 

Organisational culture, shared purpose and sense of unity continue to be key topics on the corporate agenda, and that calls for meeting design that can support cultural transformation. We foresee a growing need for innovative meeting design that can initiate or revitalise organisational ceremonies, rituals and symbols. 

8. Let's be curious and experiment 

Predictability and delivering on expected outcomes used to be key success factors for meeting designers. That is about to change as companies and participants get more appetite for real experiments and open-ended processes where the final conclusions and outcomes emerge from the process. People are fed up with pseudo-involvement – they want to contribute in meaningful ways that make a difference.  

9. Think hybrid 

The global pandemic taught us the benefits and limitations of virtual engagement. We were reminded about the power of in-person socialisation and collaboration, but we also learned a lot about the many benefits of digital meetings solutions. Going forward, meeting planners need a flexible, hybrid and agnostic approach to meeting design where they combine digital and analogue tools and concepts seamlessly. Digital solutions, incl. AI and XR (Extended Reality), are here to stay, but there will be less appetite for wasting time on superficial “gimmicks” that delude focus on what really matters for the participants.            

10. Expand the journey 

Without follow-up reinforcement and anchoring, even the best of single day events often fails to deliver lasting impact. Pre- and post-event engagement must be an integrated part of any meeting design. From virtual reflection teams and “workshop-in-a-box” cascading toolkits to follow-up check-ins on learnings and commitments.