Whatever kind of meeting you are planning – an international sales conference, a department training event, a creative brainstorming session of something else entirely – the principles for success are the same every time. And they’re all in the preparation.
As we explain in one of our recent industry insight articles (‘How to make your next meeting a success in 10 easy steps’) planning is key. You can read the full 10 step version online, but here’s a quick (4 step!) précis.

1 | Meeting Objective

The first and most important step is to consider the objective of your meeting. In a sentence, what do you want to achieve?

The objective will underpin every decision you make about the meeting, from who to invite and where to hold it to how you run the meeting and what happens once it’s over, so it’s important to get it right from the start. And in business management speak, that means making sure it’s S.M.A.R.T.

Specific

Be clear on what you are trying to improve or achieve. General goals (‘do better’) are harder to get motivated or excited about.

Measurable

Decide how you will gauge or quantify your progress.

Assignable

Who is going to do what to meet the objective? Assigning tasks to divisions, departments or individuals will give them a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Realistic

It must be possible to achieve your objective with the resources you have, even if it’s going to be a challenge.

Time-related

Your objective needs to be achieved by a certain date, not simply ‘one day’. This keeps people focused on the eventual goal by giving it a sense of urgency.

2 | Meeting Content & Design

Your meeting could take one of many formats. Traditional approaches include lectures and PowerPoint presentations from the stage, although these are no longer considered the best way to engage, inform, motivate or educate anyone.

If you want to get your important messages home and dry, you would do better to break longer sessions down into more manageable chunks, incorporate interactive elements and use more unsual and memorable presentation techniques. Shorter talking presentations, audience participation tools and a heightened use of video and imagery will all make it easier to retain and engage attention.

Short and sweet

The PechaKucha 20×20 format, for example, involves delivering a presentation or pitch in less than 7 minutes using a sequence of well chosen images – engaging the audience for every single exciting second.

Visual Language – pictures with a thousand words

According to the developmental molecular biologist, research consultant and author Dr. John Medina, a massive 50% of our brain’s processing power is used for visual processing. In other words, things that are processed as pictures are more likely to be remembered and recalled than things that are processed as words. If you want to make use of this insight, try communicating more of your word-dense messages inside pictures. So rather than having an image and supporting text, try mixing the two. This is the idea behind the new trend for ‘visual language’. Think of an infographic or mind map and you’ll see what we mean. The words are integral to the picture, and more memorable as a result.

Shake it up

Velvet Chainsaw, a consultancy dedicated to improving the effectiveness of large meetings and conferences, offers even more modern ways to shake up the traditional format to improve learning. These include Pro-Am and Hard-Fun:

Pro-Am – a professional-amateur (pro-am) approach involves teaming up experiences or expert participants with others in small groups. Think ’round table discussions’.

Hard-Fun – Intellectually challenging learning (that engages, surprises and stimulates the brain) will encourage the participants to pay greater attention and make more effort. Think simulations, puzzles and games.

3 | Pre-meeting information

The more delegates know about the meeting before they arrive, the better prepared they will feel (and be) for the challenge ahead.

So make sure they have everything they need to know about their travel arrangements and accommodation along with the all-important meeting objective, how you’re planning to organise the day or event and what you expect from their participation.

4 | Follow up

A key step after any meeting or event is to make sure everyone went away with the same knowledge or understanding and a clear idea of any next steps they have to take. (Remember step one, about the meeting objective?).

The best and most obvious way to achieve this is to write up the agreed outcomes and actions and distribute them to everyone involved. If you can do this electronically, via email or, better still, via your branded meeting app, it will be with them sooner, and while their engagement and motivation is still high.

Conclusion

As experts in our industry, Inntel understand the importance of holding a successful meeting and the impact it can have; from planning and approach to finding an ideal venue. We’re pleased to be able to share our industry knowledge and insight and hope our report has helped you develop a greater understanding of what is needed to achieve a high success rate – and enjoy the benefits it brings.