The main goal of any meeting or event is often to deliver information. You may have any number of secondary goals, such as creating opportunities to increase brand awareness and loyalty, providing a platform for networking, and encouraging attendees to participate, innovate, and solve problems, just for example. That said, you might assume that as long as you deliver intended messaging, you’ve done your job.
Unfortunately, meeting outcomes hinge on more than just your ability to convey information to attendees. The more important part of the equation is whether or not they receive the information, as well as the impact it has on them. Also of concern is their overall impression of the event and whether or not they have a positive and fulfilling experience. If not, you can’t expect glowing reviews or future attendance, and you certainly can’t assume that the information you delivered sunk in.
If you want to improve meeting outcomes and maximize impact, you need to consider how every aspect of your event contributes to overall success. Sitting people in a room and regurgitating information for hours might not be the most effective means of meeting your goals. How, then, can you and your event company engineer desired results? Here are a few things to consider.
Consider the Impact of Location
The content of your meetings and events is more important than the setting it’s delivered in, but this doesn’t mean you can discount the impact of location. The setting of your meeting contributes to the overall impression you create. Just consider the difference in mood created by moving a meeting from a board room to an outdoor space and you can see how location affects the expectations of attendees and your ability to deliver information.
Says Tessa Cameron, VP Strategic Sourcing at AMI, “Hosting meetings and events in the same spaces can create a sense of normalcy and even nostalgia over time, but it can also breed boredom and stagnation. If you want to re-engage your audience and improve outcomes, novelty is one tactic to try, and changing up your meeting location is a good place to start.”
It’s also important to work with the resources at hand, and different locations are bound to deliver very different opportunities for engagement. Your event management partners should be able to help you settle on suitable locations for your meeting or event and come up with creative ways to utilize the best that any given location has to offer in terms of immersion and engagement with your event.
Work with Your Event Company on a Thoughtful Agenda
One of the biggest culprits when it comes to meeting fails is a weak agenda. There are steps you need to take in order to plan a successful event from beginning to end. You should start with a solid foundation. This entails setting the goals for outcomes. What do you hope to accomplish with your meeting or event?
Next, you need to build on these foundations by nailing down your core messaging and weaving in branding and thematic elements. In other words, you need to craft your content in keeping with your set goals. From there you can begin to flesh out practical elements, from needed furniture, décor, and electronics, to the layout of meeting spaces, to an itinerary of speakers and workshops.
You’ll want to make sure to work with your event company to create an atmosphere conducive to producing optimal results, as well as set a schedule that includes breaks and downtime. Even though you’re sure to craft a fairly tight itinerary, it’s always wise to leave a little wiggle room for the unexpected.
Plan for Fun and Relaxing Breaks
It’s not uncommon for event hosts to think of breaks as perfunctory, but this perspective misses the point of taking breaks, which is to reset in order to return to the task at hand refreshed. Naturally, you’ll need to allow adequate time for meeting and event attendees to see to basic needs with food and restroom breaks, but you should also think about breaking up core activities like speakers, panels, and workshops with opportunities for attendees to become reinvigorated.
A tight agenda of information delivery can leave guests feeling overwhelmed and stressed. This, in turn, can decrease data retention, increase exhaustion and irritation, and generally make for a negative experience. In order to ensure positive outcomes, you need to break up the monotony with engaging activities like games, physical pursuits, or team-building exercises, just for example. You could also opt for something more relaxing, like spa treatments.
The break-time activities you choose will depend on your audience and the size of your group. An experienced event management partner can help you come up with creative ideas for activities that suit your event, your audience, and even your theme or brand messaging.
Find Ways for Your Event Management to Increase Engagement
Information overload and boredom are two pressing concerns when it comes to ensuring positive and productive meeting outcomes. The way to combat these common issues is by finding ways to get attendees engaged and excited about the process.
This can be accomplished in a number of ways. Creating an experiential event that encourages guests to participate is going to be a lot more engaging than simply dousing them in information. Along these lines, you can create opportunities for both in-person and digital or social media participation. You can also add elements of gamification, by which attendees can compete and earn rewards on an individual or group basis.
An experienced event management partner can help you to come up with all kinds of unique experiential ideas in keeping with your event, your brand, and your audience’s tastes. You can also crowdsource ideas from the event community, which is, in itself, experiential.
Set the Right Tone
In any meeting or event scenario, you want to foster an environment of openness and tolerance. The last thing you want is to stifle creativity or innovation. This means creating opportunities for both individual and group engagement and considering even off-the-wall ideas. If you and your event company are looking for ways to improve meeting outcomes, consider how the atmosphere and attitude of your event can help to encourage innovation and sharing.