REVIEWED BY ELIZABETH RICH

The subtitle reads Basic Principles of Meeting Design, but there is nothing basic about author Eric de Groot or I’m guessing his co-author Mike van der Vijver.
I’d heard of de Groot by reputation and recommendation, and invited him to present a session at last year’s ICCA Forum for Young Professionals at EIBTM in Barcelona. His highly interactive session scored the highest for the program, proving that this guy can walk the talk.

If you are genuinely interested in improving the outcomes from your meetings, then go online and buy this book. It was published in January 2013 and is a valuable addition to the industry at a time when meeting design is finally coming into its own.
“There is a frankly astonishing lack of knowledge about how meetings actually work. About the dynamics between meeting participants,” say the authors at the outset.

They are right. And yet, this is the stuff which is magic, which is challenging, which is powerful, and which is a damn sight more interesting than ensuring you have enough coffee cups for morning tea. Okay, the logistics are imperative too. The devil’s in the detail for sure. But we pretty much have that down pat don’t we?
It’s the “mental chemistry” de Groot and his Dutch pal are into. Not before time.
The two authors have obviously had extensive experience in the industry through their Netherlands company MindMeeting, since they know what the industry wants – not just theory, but examples. The book is crammed with them.
If you want to lose yourself in chat about brains, perception, behaviours and how that relates to meeting design, this is the book for you. Dip in and out of it when you have the time, perhaps reading a chapter at a time. There’s a lot to absorb and you can overload if you try to take it on in one hit. Mark it up as you go: you’ll want to refer back for ideas.

There is a clever interspersing of conversations with a sceptic throughout the chapters which underlines the traditional thinking and provides the responses.
How many of today’s meeting planners or PCOs are into neuroscience? Well, maybe tomorrow’s meeting programmers are going to need to be, so that they understand what stimulates our brains and how this knowledge can be used to enhance the quality of meetings. Shouldn’t we be adding this to our skill set before someone else grabs this space and we are left counting the coffee cups?
A substantial book of 300 pages, but already the authors in their epilogue point towards the need for deeper exploration into many areas raised.
Maarten Vanneste’s book Meeting Architecture set the ball rolling. This book has taken the topic of meeting design to the next level. Absorb this, and get ready for more to come, if not from these authors then from others who are keen to take the meetings industry to a higher intellectual plane. m

Into the Heart of Meetings: Basic Principles of Meeting Design is available through Amazon.com.  US$28.80 plus shipping.