We all know that planning a meeting is not rocket science, but takes care, experience and sometimes expertise. If you have an idea of what is going to happen, you have already made half the job. Many meetings are planned routinely which is a shame, because they could have been so much better. I have planned several meetings for customers of various sizes. No matter what kind of meeting or customer, I always try to ask the customer the below questions.
Try asking yourself the same questions before you start panning next meeting and I am sure it will be a lot easier to determine what you actually need and you will have a better meeting.
Why Are We Having This Meeting?
You cannot guess how many meetings actually are done “because we usually have a kick-off sometime during spring”. I am not saying that a tradition is bad but think about the purpose of the meeting. If you know the purpose, you know in which ways to think and what services to book.
What Exactly Do We Want to Communicate?
All meetings communicate something. If you cannot think of anything to communicate during your upcoming meeting, you might not want to do it all?
If the company has been through a rough patch and some staff has taken pay cuts or has not gotten their annual raises you might not want to be extravagant. Serving caviar and champagne under circumstances like this can make even the most loyal employee think bad thoughts. I once worked with a bank who had made 2 bad quarters in a row but they understood the importance of gathering the staff and motivating for the coming year. What we did in their case was to rent a summer camp where they did basic, but fun, team building exercises, ate very basic food and slept in bunk beds. I checked up on them about this meeting a few years later and they still remember it and smile when they talk about it.
What Kind Of Result Do We Expect From the Meeting?
All meetings trigger a reaction and in most cases an action from the attendee. Think about what you want your attendees to do and feel on their way home from the meeting. Also try to think what the chatting around the water cooler will be about. If your gut feeling thinks this will be good comments on both execution and and content, you are on the right path. Content is king, not only online this is true for meetings too.
A well executed meeting where everything is on time and works will inspire and set the bar for the rest of the organisation.
Do We Want To Do Anything Differently and What Can Do Differently?
As I said above, traditions are not bad but think about if you really need “Joe” from Accounting to go through last quarters figures, just because he usually does it. Put someone new in charge of presenting the figures, make a video or hire an a capella group to do it. If it is important information people really should know you can benefit by presenting it in an uncommon way. “Joe” from Accounting might not want to give up his mission and reason for being, but be gentle and you will make him understand.
Do I Need a Meeting/Event Planner?
Not all meetings need an Event Planner. Some focus on how many participants will attend and asks for help when the number is above X. Personally, look at how many separate actions the meeting includes and then judge. If there are many movements, speakers, meals and visits you definitely should use a professional. Using an Event Planner gives you room to breathe and focus on being the host/hostess.
Some customers do think that an Event Planner will try to get the recognition from your superiors for a well arranged meeting. 99% of all Event Planners realizes that you are the link and the important person and will NOT try to outshine you. If you are unlucky to find the remaining 1% you should leave and never look back.
You might want to read the article “How to Get the Best From Your Travel Agent.” because the thinking in the article can be applied when you are contacting your Meeting Planner.