A very large company I once worked with was reminiscing about a final night celebration that sounded like an absolute blast. Many people who attended told me how fantastic this party was, how much they enjoyed it, and so on. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought they were talking about the Golden Globes afterparty.
When I was speaking with one of the executives, I stopped him and simply said this: I’ve heard a lot about this event, but the one consistent thing I did not hear about was why there was a meeting to begin with. Not one person spoke about the content of the meeting or what they learned, but they all talked about the party. So ask yourself one question: “Did I just pay for a really great party?”
Every company has meetings: some to train, some to educate, some to motivate, and some to celebrate. But the one thing all meetings have in common is that they will never go away. You will never be able to replace the impact of meeting face to face; whether it is with your employees or with your customers, face to face will always have more impact.
According to Josh Linkner’s Forbes article “The Real Cost of a Bad Corporate Meeting or Event,” ‘Live meetings are critically important in forging relationships, sharing important information, educating team members, and pumping up key stakeholders.’
But it’s not only about the meeting, either. So what is it about?
We’re talking about impact & engagement. One thing you must keep in mind is that you are not just checking off a box to say, “Yes, I had our national sales meeting” or “Yes, we threw a great party.” In order to achieve the results you want, you must ask yourself the question: Am I driving impact and engagement with the audience that will deliver on the investment needed to host the meeting?
Always Ask Why
Many meetings are designed from a top down approach. Often times, a team of executives gets together and decides the basics: the agenda and the presentation tactics. They discuss what they want to present and how they think it should be run. And those are both excellent starting points.
But by hiring a team of seasoned professionals to plan your event, you not only receive best-in-class event planning (beautiful venues, amazing menus, and killer entertainment), you also gain the insight necessary to give you the best possible ROI – and then some. (Take a look at the shocking potential ROI scenarios in the aforementioned Forbes article.)
At Motivation Excellence, we take engagement to the next level by helping our clients build engagement and measurement into each meeting – by starting with the question, “Why?”
To the executive hosts of the meeting we ask, “Why are you having the meeting? What are your goals, and what does success look like to you?” From a company’s point of view it comes down to driving results. It doesn’t matter what the meeting or event is about; they should all start with the end result in mind: what am I trying to get by hosting this event or meeting?
If it’s an employee party to celebrate a milestone year in business like we’ll soon be having here at Motivation Excellence for our 30th anniversary, it’s about increasing morale and letting the employees know how much they have made our company a great place to work. If it’s a national sales meeting, it’s about driving more sales and increasing profits. If it’s a new product launch, it’s about driving market awareness. From the top down it can be fairly simple.
But too many meetings stop there. Once you’ve decided on your goals and defined what success looks like to you, you must then consider the attendees.
Why are they attending the meeting, and what do they want to know or learn? What does success look like to them? Will they get something out of attending the meeting or event that will help them, either personally or professionally? Will the event strengthen the relationship between the attendees and the hosts?
Take our national sales meeting example. The executives are likely going to focus on increasing sales and margin, but the attendees may just want to know one simple thing – how do I compete with XYZ competitor in the marketplace? If you never talk about that, you have lost an opportunity both from an executive point of view as well as an attendee.
After looking at both the executive and attendee points of view, we then can merge the data between the two and provide true direction on how to transform a standard meeting into an emotionally charged experience that will actually deliver results.
It all goes back to involving the attendee when the meeting content is designed. Avoid the top-down only message; you need to involve the attendee to see what they want out of the meeting. Incorporate that direction and you will surely get the engagement you want AND get a much better return on your investment.
By Jim Krausen, VP of Sales
Jim has over 26 years of experience driving impact and performance in the areas of performance improvement, meeting planning, communications programs, incentive programs, and technology. Jim brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to his position having held various senior level management positions on both the client and supplier sides of the performance improvement business.
Jim has extensive experience leading successful teams in designing custom solutions that drive impact and results for our customers.