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 are company employees or members within the association … not paid professional speakers.
I’m also not referring to the impromptu meeting amongst co-workers in a corporate hallway. And I’m not including the scheduled 45-minute weekly with staff in a conference room. I’m also excluding the three-day reward trip to an exotic location that consists mostly of social outings, golf, dinners, relaxing downtime, and an obligatory two-hour get-together to legitimize the whole trip.
And lastly, I’m not talking about highly produced meetings that have all professional speakers, high-powered entertainers, and a $50K ex-President or celebrity star as the keynoter … those meetings are by definition already events.
I’m talking about the two- or two-day working meeting … or the all-day meeting that takes place off site and starts at breakfast and ends at 5, 6 or at dinner … with lots of information crammed in from morning to night. I’m talking info cram sessions.
I’m referring to the once-a-year meeting that occurs for the purpose of laying out corporate goals, discussing big picture strategies, and diving into the specific details that are relevant and necessary for the long-term success of the company or an association’s membership.
Here are 4 keys for turning your next meeting into an event:
This is the meeting’s purpose. The agenda.
Why are you assembling forty to a hundred or a thousand of your employees all together in a conference center for a couple of days?
What do you want them to learn?
What do you want them to know when they walk out the door after 36, 48 or 72 hours?
How will the expense of lost productivity from being away from the job, the expense of hotel rooms and travel, be recouped in the coming weeks and months as a direct result of this meeting?
Focus is the answer to the question, “What’s the sole purpose for holding this meeting?”
Meetings without a clear focus have no chance of ever being remembered as an event. If it’s a get together because we always do it every year but it has no clear focus … then I say stay home and save the money.
To make a meeting truly memorable and effective, consider having some type of theme that runs throughout.
A theme could be as simple as a key phrase that gets repeated or a theme could include visuals that are in the program notes, on the stage, part of the meals, and seen everywhere. Themes can be subtle. Themes can be over the top and in your face.
Themes are different from the focus in the same way a brain has two hemispheres. The theme is right brain … the focus is left brain.
Meetings that do not have some type of theme typically will not elevate themselves from ‘another typical meeting’ status to ‘Wow! That meeting was an event!’
Themes help people remember.
A strong meeting facilitator can make the difference between a highly effective meeting and a rambling multi-day info-dump.
A good facilitator keeps the meeting moving and focused. A talented facilitator knows how to make the meeting about the participants and doesn’t make the meeting about him or herself. An effective facilitator can turn a meeting into an event by knowing how to read the mood of the room and bring the participants back to the original focus and theme. Ultimately, the meeting needs to be about the participants.
Facilitation can be also be worked as a team. The lead facilitator brings in specialists to help focus and/or entertain.
Everyone knows the purpose of the meeting is to advance the agenda of the organizers and get the attendees to buy in to that agenda. Everyone also knows that the purpose of the meeting isn’t to simply entertain the participants. Results are required.
So how is this best accomplished?
In a perfect scenario, the information would be highly fascinating. And each presenter would be knowledgeable, informative, and entertaining. In reality, most of the presenters are good people with specific technical skills … that is why they are there and part of your team. But they aren’t always entertaining in a way that enables learning. This is where the skillful facilitator can complement all presenters, enhance their individual message, and make each presenter look good while maintaining the meeting’s focus.
When the right balance between information and entertainment is struck, a mood of camaraderie, receptiveness, and retention occurs.
Here’s the good news: Employees and association members enter into meetings with a willingness to learn and improve. Most desire personal, professional, and corporate success. So the audience arrives in a receptive mood.
Here’s the challenge: Providing the environment to enable the participants to maintain that receptiveness. This is the responsibility of the meeting organizers.
When done well, the participants go home inspired and armed with actionable new information and skills. They remember the meeting as more than typical. They remember it as an event.
How important do you believe these four keys are for turning meetings into events?
What ideas have I forgotten?
What do you believe can turn an ordinary meeting into an event?
This post was originally published on SpeakingGump.com on June 11, 20211.
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.
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