The following blog post is written by TMG Associate Director, Business and Professional, Leslie Teris, JD, CAE
Have you ever felt the joy of laughing along with the rest of the audience at a comedy show? Singing along at a concert with a few thousand other fans? Have you felt that joy lately?
Adam Grant recently wrote about the “collective effervescence” we’ve been missing during the pandemic. With the possibility of in-person meetings just ahead for many of our clients, and already happening for some, how do we design our convenings for peak happiness? Enforcing health and safety protocols that effectively create a “bubble” for interaction may be a near-term key to finding our collective effervescence. I’ve had the privilege of joining TMG’s Senior Leadership Team for in-person planning meetings a few times this past summer, and I certainly felt the energy of coming together with a common purpose. With confidence that our protocols provided a safe environment for interaction, being physically present together elevated our level of engagement. The spirit of collegiality and collaboration was infectious.
For our client boards and smaller meetings, the freedom to interact in person may naturally lead to more meaningful connections with peers. For larger meetings and events, collective inspiration (or laughter!) in a keynote session can be complemented by small-group interactions that bring attendees together. Regardless of the overall size of a meeting, coming together with groups of peers to share experience and expertise on a common topic or to brainstorm solutions to a common problem are activities that require full attention and engagement, for more meaningful interaction.
We can “catch” these feelings of joy virtually, too. Think back to the early days of the pandemic, when Zoom was a new and exciting way to connect with colleagues, family, and friends. I felt it during the first virtual client board meeting I attended when everyone on the screen was engaged and happy to come together in whatever way possible. Even as Zoom fatigue kicked in, what Grant calls the “deep fun of creating together and solving problems together” showed up at unexpected times. Deep connections with colleagues have been forged over video calls. As someone who tends to focus on the content of industry webinars, muted and camera off, it has been a delightful surprise to learn that I find active on-camera participation in purposefully small vendor roundtables and breakout sessions completely engaging. I felt the joy, along with a deeper connection to the individuals and organizations that have cultivated this experience for me.
So, how can we recapture this feeling of collective joy? As individuals, we can approach our participation in both in-person and virtual events with a spirit of curiosity as to where we’ll find joy in our interactions. As conveners, we can engage participants through different session formats, seating arrangements, or digital tools that foster a sense of group purpose and belonging for in-person and virtual participants alike. As we plan and participate in events going forward, let’s be open to finding this collective joy – together.