Meetings that Matter: Why will this event make a difference?

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Meetings that Matter: Why will this event make a difference?

Question Mark

You’ve just been tasked with hosting or managing your firm’s annual partner meeting. Your team has settled on some dates and it’s time to select a hotel and book the golf.

That’s it.

“Golf? Why golf,” you wonder. “Less than a dozen guests played golf last year. Is this really the right event for our partners?” For your boss, another golf event seems to be obvious. Can you expand the conversation with him to better understand his business objectives and ensure the event will strategically support company initiatives?

At Wilsonwest, we use a 4-stage process – Insight, Innovate, Implement, and Interpret – to develop killer events that achieve company goals. The first stage, insight, is where things are most likely to go awry, if the right questions aren’t asked. Events are often designed a certain way because they’ve always been done that way (we always do golf!), or because your manager’s a golfer and “knows” golf will be fun for everyone. It’s an easy trap to fall into and it can be a challenge for the host or event manager to climb out of. But by defining your corporate event framework and goals first, you can reframe the conversation.
It’s important to place events in their strategic context up front. So before deciding on what the event will be, take some time to build the framework:

1. Define your audience – drill down on the details!
2. Determine your event goals are and how they will be measured
3. Understand how this event connects to your business objectives;
4. Decide  when and where you plan and execute event

and most importantly:

5. Ask this question: Why will this event will make a difference?

Engaging your stakeholders and partners is key to the first stage of the planning process. And when you have a committee at the helm, you’ll most likely hear differing viewpoints. Weigh in with all of them and build your event strategy around what’s at stake. Ideally, you might use the above five points as agenda items, working with the team to determine the answers to each question. Look carefully at the guest list and see who attended the past few years and who declined. Is location a draw? What about the date? Ask stakeholders, “What will success look like?” Ask yourself, “How do we measure our goals to be sure we are building the right event model?”

As event producer, it’s up to you to listen and engage your internal stakeholders, crafting an event model unique to your firm, to your guests and to the desired outcomes. Ask the right questions, analyze the responses, and take a pass at articulating the profile of the event and why it will make a difference. The story continues as you begin to develop the event content. That’s where the innovation phase begins – and I’ll address this in a future post.

Cindy Wilson

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