8 Fundamentals of an Engaging Meeting:
1: Begin with the End in MindIt’s always been important to have clear objectives and a clear vision of what success will look like. What do you want attendees to think, feel and do when they leave that is different from when they arrived? Make sure you have clear and well defined objectives so that the ROI can be measured.
2: Create CommunityBy its very definition, a meeting is a shared experience. Effective meetings make sure the agenda enhances this experiences through a few different methods:
- Ensure that every aspect reflects your organization’s brand and culture
- Allow time for learning and sharing of best practices as well as networking
- Include an aspect of giving back if you can
3: Tell StoriesJournalism has long understood that people respond to people and to stories. The classic narrative structure – a story with characters, a plot, and a beginning, middle and end – is the way people best comprehend and understand the world. The best content – video and live – presents information as a story.
4: Make it Interactive and ImmersiveEducators have long known that interactivity is key to both engagement and retention. In the 80’s and 90’s we did a lot of game shows, quizzes, panel discussions or presenter interviews with audience Q&A to help make sure messaging was received and accepted. Those tools are still effective, and today’s mobile technology gives you even more powerful ways to share content, gamify, live stream, capture data, and more.
5: Mix it UpAlong with interactivity, using a variety of formats to present information helps keep the audience involved and engaged. In addition to panel discussions and interviews mentioned earlier, TED-style presentations have become more prevalent. In addition, using audience peers as presenters expands the ideas of subject matter experts and can make topics more relevant and interesting.
6: Make Your Audience Feel SpecialRecognition has always been a powerful tool for engagement. If your meeting does not include any awards, consider adding them. If it does, consider enhancing the experience to up the recognition. Another way of making attendees feel special is providing an experience they could not have gotten otherwise. This can often be accomplished by providing a special speaker or entertainment. The meeting environment can also provide easier access to executives than associates, dealers or franchisees would normally have.
7: Look at the Bigger PictureA meeting can be a very powerful messaging tool, but we know that effective messaging campaigns require multiple touch points. We counsel our clients to see a large meeting as a focal point of a broader campaign to engage stakeholders; and we put emphasis on all phases of the experience: before, during and after.
8: InspireEngaged stakeholders – employees, franchisees, dealers, salespeople, owners, managers – are what move the needle for your business. They are the difference between success and extinction. A meeting can be designed to inspire, excite and motivate them. That’s what we call creating Belief Through Experience.
Remember Heraclitus? He also said that “you never stand in the same river twice” because the waters are flowing over you (I promise that was the last quote – but the guy did have a way with words!) and that is true of meetings. Technological changes will continue to make strides and alter the surface of what we do, but the elements needed to inspire growth in your attendees remain at the heart of every engaging meeting.