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Corporate Meeting Planning: How to Turn Your Next Meeting Into an Event They Won’t Forget Part 2

February 5, 2016

This is part two of a two-part series about transforming a boring meeting into an exciting corporate event. Last week we looked at how to devise a corporate meeting strategy that is focused and delivers a cohesive theme. In addition, we discussed how to inject surprise into your meeting and ways to save your sanity by using resources like a corporate event planner.

Today, we conclude this series with information about using the environment to reinforce your message, tech-savvy ways to engage the audience, and how to pay attention to the tiny details that can become big problems if overlooked.

6. Be smart about venue.

Nobody ever said a corporate meeting has to take place in a stale ballroom or nondescript lecture hall. The environment of your event sets the tone. Consider unusual spaces that will enhance your purpose and theme. With the right corporate event experts on your team you can transform any space into the perfect venue for your meeting.

If your focus is to rejuvenate your team consider a teaching space in a local spa, yoga studio, or wellness center. To stimulate both the right and left brain of your attendees look for available spaces in art galleries, museums, or concert halls. Depending on your theme, an aquarium or library may be the most suitable environment to reinforce your message.

The key is to free yourself from the constraints of traditional meeting tropes. Shaking up the venue choice is one of the easiest, most effective ways to instantly alter your employees’ usual expectations.

7. Make acknowledgement meaningful.

Meetings are a great opportunity to recognize employees for accomplishments, time served, and their unique contribution to the overall success of the organization. Depending on the size of your organization you may want to find a way to acknowledge every participant. This is the perfect way to tie in your theme—and it doesn’t have to be complicated. If your focus is about celebration, buy a box of party horns and label each with the name of an employee and a characteristic of theirs that you want to celebrate.

In addition to acknowledging milestones like work anniversaries, include personal highlights like birthdays, births, marriages, completion of higher education, etc. This will reinforce the organization’s investment in the whole person, not just the part they bring to work with them each day.

If you give out awards for MVPs or outstanding workplace accomplishments add comments and congratulations from colleagues and family members to your presentation. Using video or audio to share these personal messages will make the award that more meaningful—and will inspire everyone to shoot for the same kind of acknowledgement and validation in the future.

8. Go for gamification.

When it comes to making your meeting interactive, you can’t do much better than gamification. The idea is to turn learning into an experience that’s similar to a video game. The focus is on learning, achievement, and rewards. Look into renting iPads or offering a smartphone app for all attendees so everyone can participate in gamification activities throughout the hours or days of the meeting.

The simplest form of gamification to add to your event is audience participation. Audience response systems let attendees interact in real time with fellow attendees, speakers, and panels. It instantly transforms a traditional lecture into an interactive learning event. Poll Everywhere is an app that turns any mobile device into an interactive tool that allows participants and presenters to ask and answer questions and provide feedback. Responses can be shared instantly and incorporated into a web or PowerPoint presentation.

If you have a multi-day event, use a tool like SCANVenger Hunt or Go Game to create interactive scavenger hunts that encourage participation, networking, and learning. You might be thinking, “Ideas like this are appealing, but who has time to put it all together?” That’s where a professional corporate event planner can make the difference—they have all the time and resources to integrate gamification into your event and make it truly memorable.

9. Don’t forget the details.

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You can have the most exciting speaker ever, but if no one can find the restroom, let alone the location of their afternoon breakout session, that frustration is what they’re most likely to remember. Participants shouldn’t notice any of the behind-the-scenes details that make an event go smoothly. Take the time to have the forethought and personnel in place to prevent simple mistakes that make you look disorganized or careless.

Have an organized welcome and orientation station. Provide name tags that include something about each attendee such as their job title. And never use name tags with pins—participants invest in their clothes and expecting them to poke holes in them is disrespectful.

Be sure to clearly mark all rooms on a map and throughout the building. If you’re in a particularly confusing building, place guides in strategic spots to help direct attendees. Other things to consider include fresh water and coffee in all meeting rooms or a central networking area, enough wastebaskets to accommodate discarded cups and napkins (and make sure they get taken out frequently to avoid overflow), and a plentiful supply of paper products in the restroom.

Create a checklist of all the small things that need to be attended to and assign someone to be responsible for each one. If you’re using a corporate event planner they probably already have a list that covers everything. Let them help you identify the most common blunders and make a plan to avoid them.

10. Take the temperature of the room.

It’s been said that you can’t repair a bicycle while you’re riding it, but that’s exactly what you need to do when you’re presenting a corporate meeting. Designate yourself and a couple key members of the leadership team to check in with participants throughout the day. Ask them if they like the format, if the speakers have been engaging, and if their expectations have been met or let down so far.

Events that take place over multiple days give you the most opportunity to adjust course if needed, but even if you only have a one-day event you can still take advantage of participant feedback. Make sure someone in the room is monitoring the mood and levels of participation. Empower them to jump in and steer the direction of a presentation if things start to get off course or add something to infuse the room with energy.

Your designated monitor should also keep an eye out for the physical comforts of the space including ample seating, appropriate temperature, audio-visual issues, and easy access to refreshments and restrooms. Constant diligence will create an experience that is focused on your message rather than the little things that can fall through the cracks.

11. Leave them wanting more.

One of the best parts of modern technology is the ability to integrate social media into your corporate event. If you use gamification, build in a follow-up aspect that encourages participation beyond the dates of the meeting. You can also have speakers make additional content available to participants to reinforce the goals of your event.

Plant the seeds for implementation and provide a forum for attendees to share successes and ideas weeks and months following the conclusion of the event. Invite enthusiastic adopters of event principles to participate as speakers or facilitators in follow-up webinars or mini-events. Offer rewards or tokens of acknowledgement to people caught trying something new after the meeting.

Your consistent reinforcement and application of the message and theme will validate the purpose of the meeting and demonstrate the organization’s commitment to excellence. Leading by example and congratulating employees you “catch in the act” afterwards are the best ways to make sure the efforts you put into your corporate meeting pay off.

Meetings are an inescapable fact of corporate life, so why not make them as painless as possible? By adopting these strategies you can create an intentional, meaningful experience that will propel your employees and organization to new heights of accomplishment and success.

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