Event planning for meetings, conferences, and events is a broad field and requires a wide range of expertise.
Meeting planners almost always handle all of the logistics such as location, hotel, meeting space, & food. The client will typically provide some general instruction as to location and size requirements, but the rest of the details are typically left to the event planner to make recommendations and fill in the details.
The main topic and overall agenda are set by the client. Event and meeting planners are involved to the extent that they understand the agenda and provide all supportive logistics. Sometimes, event planners are asked to fill special pieces of the agenda such as entertainment. Larger organizations who work with the largest event planning firms will be intimately involved with the speakers and speaking topics. But for small to medium size businesses and many associations the content portion of the event is the domain of the client.
As a consequence of this separation of responsibilities, event and meeting planners need to be good mind readers.
The client expects the event planner to take care of all the logistical details. Most clients will give the event planner both the authority and responsibility in the domain of logistics. Generally speaking, clients don’t necessarily care that much as long as everything is taken care and the event goes off without glitches. The client will be happy. The event planner will be happy.
On the content side of things, the client maintains control of the content and the agenda and does not give the meeting planner full responsibility for content. Again, the event planner may have partial responsibility for content (e.g. entertainment) – but not full control. The event planner certainly has responsibility for A/V, lighting, room layout, temperature and so forth.
There is a narrow space between the client and event planner. The main topic and meeting agenda fit right into that space. Let’s call that gap content.
It is content where the event planner must be a good mind-reader.
Here are some of the reasons problems occur within the gap of content:
- The client doesn’t know how to effectively communicate the agenda’s overall vision
- The client is disorganized on their portion of the agenda
- Both parties assume the other party will be handling certain issues
These problems – if not properly addressed in advance – will manifest into the following issues:
- The overall content theme is disjointed. The many separate pieces don’t fit together nicely.
- Overall attendee experience (e.g. learning) suffers from this lack of cohesion.
- Individual speakers arrive and speak as Lone Rangers instead of speaking as a part of team of experts.
A good emcee will help alleviate or smooth over these problems. They don’t solve the root cause of the problem, but they have the ability to mask and hide the problem.
Who typically serves as emcee?
- Within a business, the CEO or VP of Sales is often tasked to be emcee. This works well many times – but not always.
- The current year President of an Association typically serves in the capacity as emcee – the results of this arrangement are more varied. The effectiveness of Association Presidents as emcee depend on the skills of the individual. It’s more of a wild card. Sometimes good … sometimes not so good.
- Often times, a hired keynote speaker can serve additionally in the capacity of emcee. This helps. This type of arrangement works well as the keynote topic can be carried throughout the day to complement the others speakers (either paid or experts within the industry). This scenario eliminates at least one lone ranger.
Another issue that contributes to content confusion is the four or five non-paid expert speakers who are insiders within a business or legends in an association:
- Is the client communicating beforehand about their message or is the paid emcee communicating with them in advance?
- Are the non-paid speakers arriving as Lone Rangers?
- Is the client, meeting planner, or emcee handing the pre-conference communication between all the speakers?
- Who is communicating with entertainers about the overall theme and content?
A typical multi-day convention or conference may have as many as 15 to 25 different speakers and entertainers. Communicating with each and every one of them in advance is necessary if you want your event to be a non-stop Wow! for your attendees. One Lone Ranger in the middle of the conference breaks the chain of continuity.
I believe that a gap exists between the responsibilities of the client and the event planner. That gap is the content. The result of the gap is conventions and conferences that miss the mark.
The client rarely looks in the mirror and takes the blame. The meeting planner will be blamed.
Meeting planners need to be mind-readers or willing to communicate effectively to close this content gap.
If they don’t, the content gap can turn a potential ‘A’ rated conference into a ‘B’ or ‘C’.
This post was originally published on SpeakingGump.com on April 26, 2016.
It has been updated and edited to appear here on ChangeByGumption.com
Communicator, Forrest Gump lookalike, Strategist
– Brand Ambassador, Change Agent, Speaker, Writer
– Gump-like Messaging, Simplicity, Values
– Big Picture, Bottom Line, Visual Mapping
Learn more about Steve here.
more 'Event Planning' posts …
Conference attendees at multi-day conventions, meetings, and events are no longer willing to settle for average or mediocre. Anything less than unique and special will be considered boring or a waste of time. The bar for meeting and event planners…
Panel discussions at conferences, meetings, and events are typically polarizing. Attendees hated it and found it a boreAttendees loved it and didn’t want it to end A few moderates in the crowd will say, “It was OK” which is code…
What is the tone you want to set for your meeting, conference, or event? SeriousInformationalFriendly & Fun Depending on the purpose of the meeting, one specific tone should be dominant throughout the entire event. If your company is rolling out…
When planing a meeting, conference, or event, you have two primary categories to worry about. The back end planning versus the front end experience. The back end is all of the things that happen behind the scenes. Details attendees don’t…
The meetings I’m referring to in this post are corporate meetings lasting one, two or three days with mostly all internal presenters. I’ll also include multi-day trade or association meetings. The common denominator is that the majority of the presenters…