Meetings No 01
This is no ordinary meeting magazine.
Cover Story
Johan Johansson
encourages us to challenge our thought patterns.
Psychological Meetings
Meeting People
Gordon slowly opens the door just a little bit.
Ecological Breakfast
A great success.
Richard Gatarski
Gatarski Questions the Myth of Total Presence
Please turn on your mobile phones!
Shari Swan
Swan on New Ways of Working
and an ever present focus on the street.
Take a Break with Cottam
Excerpts from Mothers Pearls: 27 short autobiographical chapters of aha moments of realization.
Business Meetings Management
A five part masters programme.
Jonas Bodin
Meeting With Meaning
CSR in practice
Jan Rollof
On Creativity
and its impact on meetings.
Mind Check
The Significance of Colours
Tomas Dalström picks the brain of Karl Rydberg.
Business Intelligence
Four Years Before the London Olympics
What's on, Barbara Jamison, at visit London?
Per Hörberg
Hidden Agendas
Affecting meetings everywhere.
Meeting Architecture
Dr Elling Hamso an the most significant book ever.
Spread the Message
Nature's Ten Best Tips
To suddenly become green in your meeting concept is not as easy as it sounds.
Meetings Industry Research
Lund University conducts research into the meetings industry.
A way of communicating.
Roger Kellerman
A Buyers' and Meetings Planners' Magazine
Why Meetings International goes international.
New knowledge
Brain research
shows added value live events.
BTM World 2020
transitions to virtual.
post-pandemic momentum
Dubai Tourism forms Business Events Stakeholders committee,
host first meeting as industry resumes activity.
hotel news
Scandic expects
occupancy of 30-35 percent for September.
Covid developer
Scandic Hotels
launches the largest network of coworking spaces in the Nordic countries.
planned for 16-17 Sep
Update on GIAF
- New dates set for 5-6 November 2020.
Sands Expo and Convention Centre
is now a carbon neutral venue.
positive impact
The Hague webinar
celebrates partnerships and first anniversary of Ottawa MOU.
expanding network
ICCA Partners up
with Geneva International Associations Forum (GIAF).
Sponsored Content
Taiwan Ready to Reopen to the World
Over 80 events taking place in Taipei now.
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Johan Johansson encourages us to challenge our thought patterns

We live in a world without physical limitations, where a simple click opens the door to all the world’s knowledge. A world in which we are continuously bombarded with new impressions and ideas. Where we leap between our various roles and virtual identities to inquisitively investigate the new and exciting opportunities. Where nothing is impossible and everything centres on me and my needs. However, we have a dream that meetings can and will engage their participants. That meetings can influence the future. That the meeting is the ultimate way to communicate your message, put across a feeling and exert your opinion. There are, however, problems. Research shows that meetings do not work as well as they could. Up to 70 per cent of all meetings are, in the worst cases, completely contra productive. To reach out with our hope of creating better and more professional meetings we have to rethink.

Johan Johansson is creative director at Five Star Day in Malmö, Sweden. He previously worked for Future Lab, a Swedish advertising agency that focuses on market communication and branding, where he had the same role and worked with their concept Future Design Days for almost ten years. In 2004, Future Design Days won the world’s best meeting award at the Grand Prix EIBTM Event Awards in Barcelona.

Earlier in the autumn Johan Johansson lectured in Oslo for the Choice Hotels’ management and guests under the heading of Next Generation Meetings. The hotel chain is the largest in Scandinavia with over 160 hotels. Johan Johansson told the meeting that a month later they would not remember more than one per cent of what he was speaking about. “How much fun is that?”

How I say something is three times more important than what I say.”

“There’s a misconception that confidence in us is created by what we say. We think if we say good things, you will put your trust in that. But we people don’t work that way. How I say something is three times more important than what I say. A good rhythm and a good style is six times more important than what I say and in which context I say it if you are to believe me. My hairstyle and garments are also more important than what I say. That I have a good announcer, that there are good things around me, that somebody tells a good story about me before I begin. All this is has more significance that what I actually say. Doesn’t that feel awful?”

“The failure risk is so high that you who are listening miss 90 per cent of what I say already from the beginning due to what’s known as selective perception. Should we focus on the ten per cent or take the other 90 per cent seriously and make them good, or even fantastic?”

Johan Johansson says that understanding how we absorb information is even more difficult. Our brain is a super computer that registers information the whole time. We absorb an incredible amount of messages and consume ten million bits a second. We think it is our eyes and ears that take in everything.

“But it appears to be our tactile sense, our second most important sense, which ensures that we can absorb facts. After which comes the ear, nose, odours and finally taste. When awake we consume more than eleven million bits every second. Despite thinking we are rather intelligent, we only manage to absorb 16-40 bits a second, the rest fills up the subconscious and becomes what we call our gut feeling. Should we work with the 16-40 bits or tackle the whole? Eighty per cent of all the decisions we make, we decide upon within twelve seconds. We trust all information that enters our bodies without knowing it.”

“We are 98 per cent identical with our closest relatives genetically, that is to say chimpanzees. We must respect that when we hold our meetings. Stop talking and get to work. We must also understand who we are talking to. I’ve learned that from the thousands of people I have in my closest network. The time is ripe for dialogue and interaction and it is, or should be, the end of the meeting as a channel for one-way communication.”

According to Johan Johansson it is high time to get used to an influx of new specialist competences if we are to engage with our message. Welcome interaction designers, stylists, anthropologists and set designers! Welcome to a new world of discoveries. The future (read already here) requires innovative and engaging meetings. Meetings with a clear aim and which are built around the demanding and ever-changing demands of a new generation of decision-makers. We do not talk of the future, it is already here.

“We’re facing a revolution with regard to general experiences, a revolution that’s driven by the demands of a new generation of decision-makers. The term meetings is dying out, it’s over-utilised and archaic. We’re now entering a time of interaction and participation, along with a deep insight into what participants really need. Stimulating all the senses through unexpected and innovative solutions is the next step. Everything is linked together, and in one vibrating interface between the physical and virtual worlds new and engaging meeting forms will emerge. It’s time to take a whole new grip, without physical limitations. It’s high time to launch gatherings.”

… between the physical and virtual worlds new and engaging meeting forms will emerge.”

Johan Johansson explains that in a, to all appearances, empty cube, your abilities will be put to the ultimate test. Here, meetings participants will create their own conditions for their meeting. Imagination and creativity will be engaged from the very outset. With three walls consisting of frosted glass surfaces, the wide awake participant will rapidly find the first piece of the puzzle, a multi-coloured cube furthest up on one wall that is solid and appears to consist of peculiar soft blocks. When the first cube has been taken down and investigated, the rest are soon torn from the wall to form the set and the infrastructure for the day’s first meeting.

Inside, all the materials are selected with the greatest care. The floor is an innovation in itself; both hard and soft but always pleasantly warm. The technology is invisibly embedded in the naked surfaces and with a simple hand movement the floor is activated to become a digital playing ground for focused development and total participation. Should inspiration and updated information be required, the frosted glass walls become giant interactive screens navigated by eyetracking and simple hand movements. Here the meeting never stands still, new forms and formations emerge at a rapid pace at the same time as the conditions change. We gather in intimate discussions, but turn just as quickly out again to get the very latest insight. Here it is possible to browse through all the world’s information without filters, chat in real time with colleagues from other parts of the world or just change the view from a deep blue ocean to a deep green rainforest. It is we who decide with a whole new meeting format that does everything to open up our sleepy senses.

Break the box, tear down the walls, let the world in. Let the world into your meeting room.”

According to Johan Johansson we are facing whole new groupings of people who want to take part in changing our meetings. Some of the groups we already know about include:


  1. Alpha females. Key words: Aesthetic/Empathic/Flow/Dialogue. They have other ways of meeting than alpha males have had. Here, participation rules. They do not ask for meetings unless everybody attends. They do not believe in the concept of only one person leading us in the right direction. They know that companies function better when everybody takes part.
  2. X Groups. Key words: Passion-driven/Connected/Less Authority/40 30 20//Work to Live/Studios/Home work. A passion-driven target group that is online the whole time. They always want to have fun. Guys as well as gals.
  3. New puritans. Key words: Challenge Growth/New Values/New Hopes/Transparency/Ethics/Less Materials/Think Ahead. This is about seeing new decors, new forms of meeting with new people.
  4. Neo Greens. Key words: Personal & Environmental/Quality/Design-driven/Awareness/Organic. They put much greater demands on the fashion industry. The message is simple: do not poison the land and our co-workers. The food we eat should not be filled with meaningless and all too often hazardous additives. Merchants of the world, to arms. A brigade of stylish, eco-aware customers is massing at the gates. And they are ready to spend.
  5. Rainbow Youth. Key words: Harley riding grandmas/Value for Time/Experience-driven/Third Age Sex/Live to Spend. Every second counts. These people want new exciting experiences every minute of the day.
  6. Rolodex teens. Key words: Mash-up Music/Recycling Trends/Super Adaptive/ Chop & Change/Extreme Inside/No revolution/Just Individualisation. How do get them to create meetings for us? By giving them everything they want. All information is available from us. You already know when, where, how, who and why. This will be a fastidious generation of decision-makers that will we try to redeem.

What are the important landmarks?

“We who’re from the MTV gene­ration say it’s a question of time. ­Every second of a meeting is vital. We should perhaps glance at the games industry to see how they entice new players. They know that each player can only be on top for four minutes. Is this something we must learn or should we continue with the 45-60-minute sessions eight hours a day?”

One thing that Johan Johansson underlines is the need for better focus. The brand of the meeting organiser must also be more visible. As a participant you should feel the DNA from the sender behind the meeting, who ensures that it feels, smells and tastes. At best, meetings are also intelligent entertainment.

Here it is possible to see some exciting progress underway. Two worlds become one, that is to say meetings with technology, meetings with the virtual world. Perhaps you should take a break here in the middle of the article and do something completely different? Listen to your favourite music, it only takes a minute or two. Maybe you cannot absorb the content if you do not read the text in one go? Maybe you should fill your lungs with oxygen, take a few dance steps? Take the time to reflect over what you have read so far?

Johan Johansson does not hold back on the fact that the meeting industry is the most anti-technology industry that he has ever come into contact with. It is time to find new influences.

“Random International is a good example. Check them out. They launched Fiat in London and used magic to attract large crowds. Illusions and lighting technology filled us with wonder and stimulated in a way like never before. Challenging is perhaps the correct word. The limits are within ourselves. Technology = trust. And the key words are interactive, immersive, integrated, illusion, embedded ubiquitous.”

This is the meeting of the future and it’s cool.”

That a new world needs new types of meetings is obvious for Johan Johansson, and many agree with him. But how do you approach it? Johan Johansson reacts lightening quick:

“1. Break the box, tear down the walls, let the world in. Let the world into your meeting room. 2. Tickle my imagination, let me participate. Let everybody take part. Let our senses be activated. Embraced by impressions. Fragrance, emotion and even more impressions. 3. A 360° experience for all senses.”

He returns to the word meetings having already been fully utilised, and explains that everybody takes part in a gathering, and there is an objective. We should be able to move in time and room to the environments we need.

“Why can’t we be in the places we want? Talk with the people we want to? Why do we not stimulate meetings participants to create their own meetings? Unite around issues in which everybody takes part? If we want to create an atmosphere that we need, then let us do that. It’s not all about being involved from the outset and influencing everything from start to finish. Do we want a picture of a deep ocean on the wall? Fine, we’ll fix it. Maybe we want a 1970s New York skyline wallpaper, but for real. Fine, we’ll arrange everything. Away with all the tired rooms that affect the way we think. They create a conformity that makes our meetings square. Away!”

“And please, use the new digital technology! Invite who you want to your meeting and do it live. Suddenly we can create exactly what we believe will stimulate our meetings and our participants. This is the meeting of the future and it’s cool.”

How do we get there?

“You have to dare, dare, dare! We must not be afraid. At Future Design Days a few years ago we had punk legend Malcolm McLaren as speaker. He was the manager, myth and legend behind Sex Pistols. Malcolm McLaren was magnificent. Even when we fail, he said, we should do it with style. ”You can’t just fail. You have to learn Magnificent Failure. The most flamboyant failure of them all!”