Over the Summer of 2022, our family travelled around the West Coast of the USA, visiting amazing places including San Francisco, Yosemite and Los Angeles.

We also took the opportunity to visit Las Vegas for two days. Having never been there before, we weren’t entirely sure what to expect. If you’ve been there, you’ll know what I mean.

The sheer scale of visual stimulation and noise is just breathtaking. If it doesn’t make a noise, it lights up. If it doesn’t light up, it moves etc etc. The city really is a masterpiece in intensity, wherever you may be. The only escape is to get back into the hotel room and decompress in silence.

Bells and Whistles meetings - Las Vegas blog post by Tom Russell, Inky Thinking
The Las Vegas Strip, Nevada, USA

Our time in Las Vegas led me to reflect on the BIG meetings and conferences which will be coming up in the coming months, and how we will achieve a balance in stimulating and engaging participants without overloading their senses.

It is natural to want participants to enjoy their conference experience, whether it is face to face or online, so what can you do to ensure you don’t overstimulate participants at the expense of making real meaning from the content? Here are a few ideas (in no particular order);

  • Factor into your agenda time for individual reflection, so participants can make sense of the information received and ‘mentally catch up’. Those who need to reflect on content will find this particularly valuable.
  • Avoid being tight with breaks. If you have a lot of content to get through, is there something that can give, or be shared in a different way? Longer breaks don’t automatically equal wasted time.
  • Provide access to space (indoors or outdoors), especially in physical meetings, where participants can take time out to stretch and reset themselves away from the meeting space.
  • Plan a balanced range of experiences for the senses. For example, try to avoid too much time spent on receiving mode (in presentations) and combine with opportunities to discuss and explore with fellow participants, maybe on a walk, or work on a business challenge together.
  • Accept that pauses are OK. It is tempting to fill spare time with sounds, lights and action. Silent time is powerful in itself, and participants are likely to thank you for it.

These are just some ideas for ensuring that you don’t bamboozle your meeting/conference participants to the point where they simply want to leave. The list is not exhaustive, and it would be great to hear from you if you have any suggestions to add.


Content taken from ‘The Visual Meeting Coach’ bi-weekly LinkedIn newsletter by Tom Russell. To subscribe to Tom’s newsletters visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomasrussell/

About Tom …

Tom is a facilitator, graphic recorder and founder of Inky Thinking, a visual communication agency specialising in bespoke visual communication, enabling leaders and organisations to communicate effectively. Tom works with leaders and teams in global organisations to design and facilitate conferences, meetings and workshops.

Tom’s book – ‘Meet with Impact – 40 visual tools for productive meeting and engaging workshops’ was published by Pearson Business in 2019 and available via www.inkythinking.com/shop