You know that feeling when you come out of a meeting and think “What a waste of my time. Why did I have to go to that?” A bit-soul crushing, right? Do you think about how to have more impactful meetings and events so people attending don’t leave with that soul-crushing feeling?
Here are tips on how to make your next meeting or event awesome and end the soul-crushing feeling:
Define Your Desired Outcomes
“Begin with the End In Mind” – Dr. Stephen R. Covey from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This applies to planning your meeting and event as well. Think through the desired outcome(s) you want as a result of your meeting or event. Then, plan all the tactical decisions around the desired outcome(s). Recently, one of my clients told me that we helped her create more impactful events that communicate a targeted message. Think about what the targeted message is that you want to communicate and how does that tie-in with your business goals and mission. Then, every decision you make should tie-in with those desired outcomes. This can apply to something as fundamental as the venue for the meeting. How having the meeting in the office conference room produce the desired outcome we desire? Should we have the meeting off site at a hotel or event venue to get people out of their everyday mind set. Want to get participants out of their comfort zone? Change the room set-up to something a bit more unconventional, like bean bag chairs, to get them into a different mind set.
Describe Your Event In One Word
Another idea is to sit down and describe your event in 20 words. Then do it again in 10 words. Then do it again in 5 words. Finally, do it in one word. That is the ESSENCE of your program. This helps decision making be a bit easier as you can ask yourself if doing X or Y is in line with the essence of your event. If not, then should you be doing it, or what should you be doing differently? For example, one client said they wanted the CEO and COO to ride into the General Session on horseback. Does this tie-in with the essence of your event? Sometimes the answer is “no”, but the CEO just wants to ride in on horseback, so you just do it! But think through the tactical decisions to help make your meetings better.
Craft The Story
Along the same lines, craft the story of your event starting with the promise (the announcement of the event), through to the actual event experience, and ending with the challenge (when the curtain falls on the event, how do you maintain the connection). What does the journey look like and what is it you want the participants to experience before, during and after your event. How do you want participants leaving the event thinking, acting, feeling saying, or doing. How does every decision you make drive them through that journey.
Apply Experiential Marking Practices
Experiential marketing practices and strategies are now being applied to meetings and events. During your planning consider how each decision will impact the participants’ experiences. Put yourself in the shoes of one of your participants. For example, I helped one client with their annual incentive program. The participants were the super-stars of the company and earned the trip because they exceed their goals by 200% or more. The trip was to the Caribbean, and people from the west coast would have to take red-eye flights to get there. Do you want almost half of your top producers to arrive exhausted, irritated and grumpy? No, of course not! You want them to arrive excited, and feeling rewarded, which is what the trip is designed to do. Solution: We offered the people coming from the farthest distances the choice to fly-in to the connecting city the night before and stay over in a luxury property before their next leg over to the Caribbean, or take the red-eye and give those participants access to the airline’s lounge in the connecting airport for their 4.5 hour layover to relax or to shower. The participants appreciated having the choice and the little extra thought that was put into their experience.
To make your next meeting and event more impactful spend more time on the strategy, the journey, and the experience for the participants. There is more to planning an impactful event than most people are aware. If planning meetings and events is not your primary role, find an event management company to partner with that can help you make your programs more impactful and end soul-crushing meetings and events.