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Inspire me! How to Stimulate Fresh Thinking at Your Events

By Cathy Key
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Event planners are paid to be creative, to come up with new ideas that will keep our events fresh. However, creativity can easily get lost in the day-to-day routine of running a business. In this article we look at how you can keep inspiration alive.

Inspire attendees

I’m sitting in front of my computer in my office, drinking coffee and trying to think of a new idea for a blog post. This is not a unique situation for me. In fact, I sit in this exact same seat every morning and I don’t need a crystal ball to predict how the rest of my day will go.

With deadlines approaching, I can safely engage ‘autopilot’ and trust myself to take care of everything that I need to get done today. While this is very effective, there is a cost: habits and routine kill off originality. This is a problem, because my clients expect me to bring fresh thinking and creativity to my work.

Originality is Delightful

Think of a time when you were captivated by a thought or idea that you had never had before. That moment of inspiration creates an electricity and aliveness that is infectious. New ideas blow away the mental cobwebs and we find ourselves excited for the future. That kind of excitement is usually there when we start a new business, project or start working with a new client. In the presence of an original idea, we can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning to put it into action.

Now, you might notice that it’s been a while since you had that kind of experience. The chances are you did not leap out of bed this morning, fuelled by creativity and inspiration. In fact, you might not be able to remember the last time you had a really new, fresh idea that had you revved up and excited for what’s next.

Stuck in a Rut?

Human beings are creatures of habit. In fact, we rely on routines to have our lives work. I get out of bed with auto-pilot fully engaged: I shower, dress, make my morning oatmeal, catch up on my favourite blogs, work at my desk, have lunch, do yoga, answer emails, eat vegetarian food, indulge in a glass of red wine and go to bed (exhausted) with a good book. Don’t get me wrong - I have a great life and structure really works for me. But, given all this routine it’s no wonder that new ideas and real creativity are rare.

Routines and habits are the antithesis of creativity. This is because new ideas require that we feed our brain with new ingredients. Without new stimuli our thought patterns get stuck in the same groove and suddenly we are at a creative stand-still.

Maybe I’m the only one who gets stuck in a rut – but I don’t think so. We are inundated with communication from social media, email and the web but very little of it is really new or impactful. There are conferences, workshops and seminars that have been following the same patterns for years or decades. Sometimes it’s easier (or safer?) to do what has gone before than it is to risk something new.

Those of us who are creative professionals are highly familiar with creative block. Forcing a new idea is almost impossible. It’s as if the more we try to discover something fresh the further out of reach it becomes. Yet, we live for those "Eureka!" moments when a new concept is born and we experience the of surprise and delight of a new idea.

Cultivate Creativity

The good news is originality and creativity can be nurtured and stimulated. You cannot force a new thought, but you can create the right conditions and plant the seeds that will naturally bring new ideas to the surface.

A new thought is  the coming together of a new network of information. Your neurones literally fire in ways they have never fired before.

To create a fertile ground for originality you must feed the mind with fresh information. There are lots of ways to do this:

- Read a book or a blog on a subject you don’t normally read. If you usually read biographies try science fiction. If you normally read romance read business.

- Meet new people. Make a point of meeting someone new every week and go out of your way to meet people with different opinions to you.

- Change your environment: Pick up your laptop and work in a coffee shop for a few hours. Go to a different coffee shop each week.

- At your next office meeting sit in a different chair to usual. If you are usually quiet – speak up. If you are usually loud – be quiet and listen.

Learn to cook Thai food, meditate, learn to tango, visit an art gallery or try kick-boxing. There are hundreds of new things to try. The point is not choosing the right one, but to try something new.

Creativity and Events

Events are great breeding grounds for originality and creativity. Events take us out of our comfort zone: we meet new people, hear new ideas all within a new setting or environment.

Events displace us from the familiar. We find ourselves in a new location, maybe even a new city or country. The new sights, tastes and sounds trigger whole new pathways in our brains and naturally lead to new ideas.

For many of us that is why we go to events. We go to have our minds refreshed, refilled and rejuvenated with new ideas that can lead to our next creative breakthrough.

In Conclusion

The experience of having a fresh, new idea is enlivening and inspiring. Events play a key role in sparking innovative thinking by breaking our daily routines. How you have brought fresh thinking to your events and how people responded?

about the author

Cathy Key
Dr Cathy Key has been working in the event technology industry since 2002. During this time she worked side-by-side with meeting planners and built her own successful conference software platform. She is now an independent consultant and writer for Online Registration Review.
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