How do you normally feel after attending an all day conference or summit? Exhausted both mentally and physically? Sluggish? Overwhelmed? Funny thing happened to myself and two of my colleagues after attending a recent all day summit at Google in Pittsburgh called "Be Internet Awesome." We weren't exhausted mentally or physically. We weren't sluggish. And we weren't overwhelmed. In fact, it was the quite the opposite. We felt refreshed, energized, and full of thought and discussion.
So how did Google do this? How did they create an all day summit that was just right and left the attendees leaving refreshed, energized, full of thought and discussion? I have been wondering this since the summit and how to take Google's format back to future faculty meetings, in-services, and other conferences/summits.
Here are my thoughts about how the Google Summit on Digital Safety & Citizenship left those in attendance feeling anything but exhausted:
Right from the start, our hosts were concerned with our comfort. This sent a clear message right away that they cared about us. Our Google hosts also invited us to get up and move around any time we needed to. We were told we could sit in back on couches or on floor against wall if we wanted. The choice was ours. Food was in the back we were welcome to any time we wanted, as well. In addition to food, they had music playing in the background that provided an upbeat feel. Finally, everyone, including our Google hosts were dressed comfortably.
During the summit, Google had different presenters throughout. Now I wasn't counting the minutes, but it seemed like every presenter kept their presentation under 25 minutes. This not only kept us focused but also kept the day moving.
Get Up & Talk
After the second presenter, we answered three questions with each being on a Post-It note. Then had to get up and break into groups. But we had to break into different groups based on some random similarities we had to determine. This forced us to not only get up out of our seats but also immediately start talking. Once our groups were formed, we had to put up our Post-Its on the walls, then categorize them into hopes, fears, and what things are going well. Then each group took turns sharing out.
70 Minute Networking Lunch w/ Optional Activity
During lunch, we had the option of viewing an VR video, but we also had the opportunity to network with others during lunch, which was provided. This was one of the easier networking lunches I have attended, since we had the "Get Up & Talk" session earlier. Even with talking to some different people and attending the VR session, lunch did not feel rushed.
After lunch, one presenter spoke about the program, Interland. Then we had a chance to play around with Interland. It gave us time to explore, discuss, and ask any questions we had with the presenter or those around us.
At the end, Google put on a Q & A session through a fireside chat. It was a nice, informal way to wrap the summit up. By this point in the summit, people were all very comfortable with one another due to the day's format, which lead to a very open and honest Q & A session.
Hey Google, thanks for the summit and for not making me feel exhausted after.