The Intersection

4 Design Principles to Apply to Your Meetings

From event to event and year to year, how can you keep the look and feel of your meetings fresh?

intersectionThis creative challenge isn’t limited to events — it’s a pressure shared by designers across disciplines, according to Emily Oberman, a partner in the global design consultancy Pentagram. And thinking holistically is key.

“Design, to me, is in everything,” Oberman says in “Designing Engaging Experiences,” the latest monthly video for The Intersection, presented by PCMA and PSAV. “It’s in things that you see, it’s in things that you touch, it’s in things that you hear.”

Oberman, who also spoke at PCMA Convening Leaders 2015 in Chicago, is known for her witty designs of everything from hotel and restaurant brand identities to websites to music videos, as well as the the opening credit sequence of “Saturday Night Live,” which she designed for years.

1. Find the big idea “For instance, if you have a meeting, and you have something you want to convey — you want that meeting to have a certain feel to it — start with that, find the big idea in that,” Oberman says. “Then take that idea, write up a brief for yourself, and use that brief as a bible or a touch point.” From that brief, you can reexamine every subsequent design decision to make sure it serves the original idea.

2. Think of the end user as the ultimate client “My theory about design is that your client is not your actual client — your client is your client’s client,” Oberman says. “For instance, if you’re doing hospitality, if you’re doing a hotel, the person who has hired you to design the hotel or design the amenities is your client, but really, the person you have to be thinking about is the person who will live in that room, in that moment, in that space.”

3. Pay attention to every detail “If you don’t design something, that will become part of the experience,” Oberman says. “If you let something fall by the wayside, if you let something slip through the cracks, your audience will know — and they’ll see it.”

4. Keeping design fresh necessitates constantly peeking past the next curve “Think about how you reinvent something,” she says in the video. “If all conferences have been done a certain way, if all meetings are handled a certain way, what’s a way that’s new, that’s different, that you can handle it better?”

Watch this month’s Intersection video:

Corin Hirsch

Corin Hirsch is associate editor of Convene.