A Michelin Star for Remote Engagement

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Written by Martin Simmons and Paul Hickman

The IRM European BA conference was a great example of a Michelin Star experience.  Engaging audiences and leaving them with a memory to last a lifetime.  Even if you couldn’t make it, we’d like to offer you a five minute Michelin star moment to read and takeaway. Here is our recipe for making your meetings an experience to remember.

Paul Hickman and I (Martin) met at the weekly IIBA Brown bag where we got to chatting around the topic of people being distracted in meetings and the need for online meetings to add more value.  Our first insight to consider is around what does value mean to you and your organisation?

To Paul and his corporate background “It’s about the return we’re getting from the activity, often this is cost and revenue related or there are some tangible benefits and outcomes”.

To Myself “Yes, there is a huge focus on the outcomes and yet it’s really about the experience as a whole.”

One sign of how your organisation thinks of value is how much time is dedicated to getting to know each other before, during and after meetings.  Our debate started a journey of workshops, facilitated to over two hundred participants throughout 2021.  Our aim; to increase meeting engagement and with it meeting value.  Throughout these engagements we’ve arrived at a series of insights and we’re able to share some practical insights to try out in your meetings whether you’re an attendee or a host.

During our Michelin star session at the BA conference we saw an 80%+ engagement rate with over 40 attendees in our session; compare that to those show and tell departmental meetings with similar sizes of audience.  We threw away the “any questions” bolt on at the end and brought people into the session every step of the way and here’s our five ingredient recipe:

  1. Before the meeting we built up interest by sending out a poll to the conference.  Why not get people to put their ideas onto a whiteboard, ask them for what they’d like to cover ahead of time or just start up conversations around the topic.
  2. We invited our audience to participate from the get go, beginning with the expectation setting question of “What are you looking for from this session?”.  Rather than tell people what to expect from the session we asked people to share what they wanted using a co-authored slide deck.  Meeting chat, whiteboard tools and inviting conversation are all equally accessible tools and techniques.

Poll Results.  Tools & Techniques the chosen topic

  1. Our slide deck had several options and the audience elected for interactive tools and techniques.  Rather than ‘show and tell’ we opened up the tools to try.  This included exercises in Mural, Google slides and jamboard. 

One of the interactive exercises using co-authoring on slides.

  1. Sometimes there’s too much to take in during one sitting so a few useful links and new ideas for people to reflect on are great to take away.  We pointed people to the one minute story (think of a character, setting and conflict then resolve it), the liberating structures site for useful exercises as well as youtube videos on Death by Powerpoint by JP Phillips and The Art of public speaking by Eric Edmeades.

JP Phillips Death by Powerpoint; a recommended watch

  1. Finally we offered a chance to reflect at the end, to consider what we’d all learnt together and how we might apply it.  We asked if those expectations at the start had been met IRM offered an evaluation for us to learn from.

Next time you find yourself distracted in a meeting, or see others that are, send us a message on LinkedIn for more tips on creating a Michelin Star meeting.


  1. Very useful ideas and quite relevant to what I am trying to do every week – thank you

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