10 Quick lessons from Fresh 14 for everyone

Fresh 14 was very fresh and stimulating so before the routine of hard work takes over again, it feels like a great time to reflect on some immediate lessons from the experience  for meetings and events in general...

1. It's great to see theories in practice

There were a number of old and new techniques used at Fresh14 in a real and live environment - including Pecha Kutcha, Appreciative Enquiry, Point & Counterpoint, WeConference and Lego SeriousPlay. Some worked, some didn't work so well - but seeing them in action, being a part of them and listening to the views of the participants was invaluable and so much can be learned from observing and experiencing.

2. Technology for the future of meetings (or not)

There was a great deal of technology in use and on show at Fresh, some of it very conceptual - like the newsworthy robot virtual attendee, Meetingsphere, many different apps and Google Glass. There was a lot of discussion about the future and what may become the norm - two themes seemed clear, technology will become increasingly normal, like the availability of the internet is normal to us now; and human interaction will increasingly be seen as the real reason for meeting up.

3. Being out of our comfort zone is good

There were some interesting things going on at Fresh, some of them felt very uncomfortable - pushing the person next to you, sitting on a giant ball, throwing a microphone, building lego, sitting in a Talkaoke circle or around the camp fire - the natural reaction is to resist and to question, but in many cases the experience was enlightening and good for the majority.

4. Amazing International Learning

The breadth of experience and cultural differences at Fresh was eye opening; with attendees from Australia, the US, Iceland, Turkey, Slovakia, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, UK and throughout Europe with many places more online; everyone together and discussing very similar realities and challenges from different cultural perspectives.

5. Facilitated Learning

What we saw and experienced were some extremely different facilitation styles and techniques, we heard research about panel discussions, witnessed the frenetic Talkaoke ' fishbowl', the laid-back Campfire, the comedic Professor, the charismatic production manager - all providing the human dimension - and what we learned was that what matters was GOOD PEOPLE who are GOOD at what they do. The best facilitators got more out of their sessions.

6. 20 minutes of Crowdsourced Brilliance

Steve Bather hosted a session with Maarten Vanneste to scope out the content for Fresh15 conference using Meetingsphere, an online facilitation tool - brainstorming, gathering ideas, sorting them, prioritising them and creating a solid base to work from in just 20 minutes - impressive.

7. Hybrid - mixing the live and online 

The Hybrid team with Gerrit, their dedicated host; mixed live conference content with their own presentations and interviews, involvement in discussions, a virtual goody bag and dedicated cameras set a high standard for integrating the online audience with the live event while at the same time, the comms team updated Twitter, the website, YouTube, Flickr etc with photos videos and text commentary from the event whilst interacting with the online participants.

8. Diversity at any cost?

The question was asked during one panel discussion why 6 white men were on stage discussing the future - where was the diversity?  The make up of the panel should reflect the make up of the audience - but sexual, religious or racial equality should not force the panel to change alone - the panel should represent the best expertise available for the discussion.

9. And some Quick Wins!

- Catchbox was great - a soft throwable microphone is always effective for audience participation but the Catchbox was particularly good because it turns its own mic off when in the air.

- The visualisers, poem and video - creative capturing of the event in different ways was a great way to remind attendees about the great sessions and content.

- Pecha Kutcha - fantastic fast session with lots of presenters with visionary ideas - exciting to watch


There was a lot of content and a lot of learning from Fresh14 - it was a fantastic learning environment where ideas could be tested and the range of people involved in meetings could be better understood.

10. The number one take away from FRESH 14...
Storytelling works.
We all remember great stories.

(That's why Storytelling is at the heart of our new Cascade ContentBox)




Alan Wight