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Most Innovative Meetings 2013: #15 PS Engage

The Canadian event for public service employees added a dose of creativity to foster learning and networking.

By Martha C. White September 9, 2013, 7:00 AM EDT

During each presentation, an artist on stage interpreted the content using sketches and diagrams.

Photo: Courtesy of PS Engage

Government meetings don’t have much of a reputation for excitement, so when a group of Canadian federal employees met in November at Ottawa’s Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, organizer Thom Kearney, partner at Rowanwood Consulting Inc., wanted to change that. For PS Engage, he tapped Sandra Hamway, founder of marketing company Infuse Five, to shake up the status quo.

The day’s presentations were accompanied by “living tapestries”—storyboards rendered in real time by an artist on site. Heavy on simple sketches and diagrams and light on text, the storyboards depicted the challenges and ­solutions being discussed. They were later displayed in the main activity area of the museum. Delegates also had the chance to ask presenters about challenges or problems they were facing at work, which were ­addressed via five-minute role-playing vignettes sprinkled throughout the course of presentations. An improv theater activity ended the day.

Hamway said these elements were all designed to better connect with people who learn visually or by doing rather than sitting and listening. “The purpose was to give the decision makers a new way of making decisions and how to engage their employees,” Hamway said. “It’s not just about the content, but how the content is presented.”

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