Comment from @brucecaron :
Concept: Flipping the Plenary: addressing the asymmetry of knowing in the room
20th Century meetings used plenary speakers to a) applaud an honor (prize winner gets to talk), b) broadcast new findings, and c) shape the conversation in the room.
But the idea of one person talking and 299 (or 2999) people listening is no longer appropriate not optimal, not for virtual meetings, and also not for in-person meetings in the COVD aftertimes. We do not need to return to the old normal.
We can achieve all of the 20th Century plenary goals with a 21st Century strategy.
Solution: Tap the knowledge in the room.
Instead of giving a speaker 30-40 minutes to talk, followed by a Q&A mainly dominated by the same folks who like to speak….and speak…. and speak…
…. we give the plenary speaker the following:
An opportunity to upload their work as a paper before the meeting
And/or any video they would like to audience to view.
The opportunity to offer 3-5 important questions that their work generates (either pain points or new challenges for them going forward, etc. THE BEST questions they can think of [and we need to get better at asking questions])
10 minutes LIVE to update their work and prime the room to respond to their questions.
When the meeting is all remote, we then break the main room into 6-7 person (random) breakout rooms in 10 minute sprints to answer each question (using Google docs)… When the meeting is in-person, we use round tables in the plenary room as discussion groups, and Google docs (or whatever) to capture answers to the questions.
There is a follow-up session (later in the day) with each plenary speaker to discuss the combined answers to their questions.
Result: the speaker is rewarded by the attention and knowledge of the room, and the room is rewarded by engaging in real conversation, instead of silence. And with the opportunity to start new knowledge formation, and potential new collaborations.