Meetings are inevitable in every organization - and necessary. However, some companies find themselves mired in all-day and/or back-to-back meetings, where attendees wonder how they get any real work done. From a meeting planner's point-of-view, break the mold of the typical corporate meeting and try some of these at your next meeting.
1) Shorten the meeting. Have a concise and timed agenda and stay on track. Make sure topics are those that have a time-priority or have immediate calls-to-action. Eliminate side-bar discussions that get off track and table items that can be addressed in separately. Think of productive meetings with an ROI.
2) Get out of the board room! Different meetings start to feel and sound the same when they keep taking place in the same conference room. Take the meeting off-site, or if your company has outdoor space, use that space instead. If you’re stuck in the same conference room, change the seating or room layout, if possible.
3) Have adult recess. Instead of the usual 15 minute break to use restrooms or grab a snack or coffee, get the kinks out and take a walk around the perimeter or do some good old-fashioned stretches.
4) Play. Intersperse some game-playing during the meeting. Have mini chess boards, checkers on the table(s) or an indoor golf put as a fun and unusual way to get participants relaxed, invigorated and ready to get back to the seriousness of the meeting. Giving the brain a no-brainer game break will energize meeting goers.
5) Be human and have fun after the meeting. Give your meeting attendees a “reward” by going out to a nice group dinner or indulge in an evening activity such as team bowling or happy hour. An after-meeting outing gives the group a chance to bond outside of the office space and will help foster a team mentality.
Planning a meeting or event is easy, right? Find a calendar date, tell your attendees about it, hope they show up and then make sure you feed them during the event.
It’s definitely a simple concept, but you can quickly kill your budget if you don’t think like a planner.
Budget Killer #1 - Not having an event budget. Organizations make a huge mistake when they don’t account for their meetings and events in their overall budget. Elements that cost money for an event to even get off the ground are the venue, food and beverage, accommodations (if your meeting is an overnighter or a full conference), ground transportation, travel, marketing collateral and any event tech. An event budget should also have a contingency in place, which is a “just-in-case” something unexpected occurs at your event, like a vendor no-show. Back-up money for last-minute services are always at a premium.
Budget Killer #2 - Overspending on items that don’t have a return, such as F&B. Yes, I get it, people come in droves when there is good food and beverages, particularly alcohol. But be smart and creative with menu selections. Don’t have a full catered affair for a Board of Director’s meeting. Use the money instead for the cocktail reception or meet & greet, if one is being hosted after such a meeting. Another example is ordering car service for everyone. Unless there is a compelling reason, people can carpool, ride-share or drive themselves to and from the event.
Budget Killer #3 - Not understanding true event costs. This is where a savvy planner should come in and do the work, not just the office manager or EA (unless they are event planning savvy). As I mentioned in #1, event elements can have huge costs if they are not properly negotiated. A/V is one of the more expensive aspects of meeting and event planning. Be aware of the types of fees some A/V companies will charge you. For example, you need a projector and need a clicker. You'll get charged for that clicker. There are also rigging fees, different pricing for microphones (hand-held, wireless, lavaliere), and not to mention different types of sounds systems.
Have a clear strategy and set out expectations. Create a program flow, which is like a production run sheet, where every aspect of your event is outlined, including the cost of each component. Translate these costs into a budget sheet, so you can track your expenses at every phase of the event.
For a free budget template, click here.
Be ahead of the game, truly understand event costs, and you will likely enjoy revenue or a huge ROI as a result of a well-planned event.