Meeting Planning Tips Blog Posts

Exercise In Discovery

Posted on: Monday, September 9th, 2013

business-men-shaking-hands

In the working world, multiple generations are beginning to work together for one common goal: to complete a task or a job. Communication and problem solving between two generations can be difficult and this is due to different skills and abilities.

This week, Eloqui, a presentation skills firm sent out: Exercise in Discovery. Their assignment was to give ad

vice on how to read and speak the language of each individualized audience. After delivering a keynote in Denver to customer service representatives of a major insurance firm, Eloqui came across another challenge: communicating with professionals from a different generation, since the representatives ranged from thirty to sixty.

In order to fade the line that divides the two generations, Eloqui made the following recommendations for the youth and also for the sage to keep in mind when communicating with professionals from a different generation.

Youth: Don’t audition or tap dance because you feel fear or a lack confidence. If you fall into that trap, you will tend to say too much, stray off point, pontificate to show how much you know, and lose the attention of your client, customer or audience.

Sage: Express genuine interest in the younger professional and their expertise, especially when it comes to social media, apps, Internet sites, or their particular strength. Drop any condescending tone. Make every meeting or connection an exercise in discovery.

Youth: At the same time, don’t assume the more seasoned professional is ignorant of new technology. Show respect. Be curious. Demonstrate that you admire their wisdom and experience by asking questions. You may tap into an older person’s willingness to mentor. It is also a fast track to gaining trust and deepening a potentially important relationship.

The Formula For Popular TED Talks

Posted on: Friday, July 5th, 2013

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Many of us are familiar with TED talks and many have also viewed one or two online or if you are lucky enough, in person. TED is a nonprofit devoting its time to share ideas that they believe are worth being heard. It started out as a conference in 1984 to bring together innovative thinkers from technology, entertainment, and design. Today, TED talks have become an honor for intelligent, creative thinkers to present their personal ideas to the world.

The most popular TED talks to this day all seem to have one thing in common: a formula. The writers of Wired: The First 20 Years shared this special formula:

1%: Sophisticated Visual Aids. Most popular TED talks favor PowerPoint slide shows, quality drawings, or just no props at all.

5%: Opening Joke. This is a good way to engage your audience, and spark their attention as you are beginning your talk.

5%: Spontaneous Moment. Make sure that you do not over prepare. This will allow you to develop a relationship with the audience.

12%: Snappy Refrain. “The TED equivalent of “I have a dream.” Example: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Repeat 7x.”

23%: Personal Failure. Be relatable and let the audience know if you are nervous or about a time where you did not fit in. This lets them know that you are not of any higher power than they are.

49%: Contrarian Thesis. TED is a place where new ideas and out-of-the-box thinkers come to challenge your predetermined opinions.

If you are invited to speak at a meeting or event, just remember this simple formula and your time in the spotlight could become the idea that solves a major world issue or enlighten the listeners to a whole new way of thinking.

 

Two Audiences, One Goal: Stand Out

Posted on: Thursday, June 20th, 2013

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Nielsen shares with their clients exclusive insights to help them understand consumers and their behavior by Standing Out in today’s over saturated media world. Nielsen’s clients are broken into two distinct audiences; media executives who determine what people are “watching” and consumer package good executives who determine what people are “buying.”

Their major customer conference Consumer 360 has had these two distinct audiences together for this event for 5 years. Over that time in the post event surveys several people would state that they wanted more content specific to their area of interest. The Nielsen event planning team listened to their customers and designed this year’s agenda based on this input.

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To do this on the first day we cut the general session time from 4 hours to 2 hours and with that extra time the attendees broke off into 2 hour super sessions specific to each area of interest, watch or buy.

Each Super Session began like most breakouts with an overall presentation followed by a panel discussion specific to each subject. Then using Facilitate Pro software which I like to think of as a “digital flip chart.” the moderators and Nielsen employees (one at each table) began typing in the attendees’ ideas on their laptops or iPads. These ideas were organized by categories and sub-categories to help better understand what their customers want.

Attendees were engaged and became active participants during these sessions. In total, over 1,200 ideas were digitally captured and Nielsen intends on taking this input to improve service and innovate their products and services. These beautifully designed sessions helped keep the interest level high and helped Nielsen listen to their clients.
In summary the General Sessions gave the audience a 30,000 foot view of what is going on globally in media, marketing and branding. The Super Session Sessions gave a 15,000 view of what is happening today in both the watch and buy worlds. The Insight Sessions (breakouts), gave “on the ground” real life examples and customer case studies so that when the audience returned home they had the insights and ideas to improve their companies performance to be more successful.

When professionals come together, listen and brainstorm as a group, great things can happen. By listening to their audience’s input from last year we were able to focus on two specific audiences to create one great event.

What If…

Posted on: Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Boston

 

As a planner you spend time thinking about “If we do this, then we can expect this to happen.” In terms of attendee safety and security, you need to stop and ask, “What if…the fire alarm in the ballroom goes off, then what do we do?”

In terms of the Boston Marathon, the planners had asked, “What if a bombing or shooting took place? What do we do?” It appeared that they had considered these scenarios as the first responders took action while the whole world watched. They demonstrated that while we cannot prevent every contingency, we should be prepared when things do happen. We therefore can never stop asking ourselves “What if…”

Just this Monday, we were reminded of the importance of safety. The bombings that hit the Boston Marathon that afternoon made the city come together, as well as the rest of the country. Reading through many articles about the bombings, I came across one that mentioned the effects that it may have on the event industry. As the article stated, “For the event industry, the biggest question is the security at running events as well as large public gatherings.”

The BizBash article goes on to quote Jon Hughes from Track Shack Events. He ran in the Boston Marathon and was on his way back to the hotel when he could see the smoke. As an event producer, Jon was able to take a perspective on what future events may look like following this incidence.

It is safe to say that future races will be impacted, as they try to increase the security measures for the bystanders while maintaining the level of security they have for those participating. How much security is enough to ensure the safety of the civilians and those actually running? That is tough to say and I am sure that it will depend on the location and number of participants expected at each race. Still, races around the nation are pressing onward with higher precautions in regards to safety. It is safe to say that it is one of the top priorities of race personnel.

It is essential that any large event, outside or inside, has followed all possible security procedures. Event planners should take this event as a warning to assess the situation prior to the start of event to ensure that all of the precautions have been taken to the best of ability. Any potential errors or mishaps should be accounted for and a backup plan should be created in case something does happen that is not in the written plans. Also, the selection of a safe location and venue is imperative to the overall safety of an event. Hosting a large gathering in a secure place, that feels welcoming and comforting, will make things much easier for the security that is running the event. Security officers should be available at all times during the event, walking around, and showing their presence to the attendees to comfort them and their safety. But, be careful, too much demonstration of security personnel may frighten some attendees into thinking something has occurred. And finally, know the emergency services in the area and have the contact information on hand just in case.

Esprit Productions will continue to keep Boston in our thoughts and prayers.

Importance of Appreciation: Madrid

Posted on: Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Royal Palace

One must never forget about appreciation, taking a minute to recognize and enjoy the good qualities of something, someone, or someplace. One should have gratitude for something, give thankful recognition, and critically notice their surroundings endlessly. People all too frequently forget the importance of appreciation. Having a clear perception of the city in which you live in is more than important. In doing this, individuals have connections, relationships, and emotions linked to these places. Madrilenians, citizens of Madrid, thrive in a city full of antiquity, with it’s preserved historic streets and neighborhoods, and liveliness, with it’s rambunctious nightlife, as they take advantage of all Madrid has to offer.

The citizens embrace and understand the qualities that flourish in their city, needing to be amplified in a time of financial crisis. It is obvious that Madrid is a beautiful city, unique in it’s history, architecture, story, and progress. Because it is the capital of Spain, it has countless connections with other cities and contact with millions of consumers. Madrid is a growing city, developing ideas and concepts for businesses. The entrepreneurs and citizens of Madrid are strong willed, persevering to advance the growth of their beloved city and home.

Royal Palace

In fact, Madrid is one of the top ten world destinations chosen to carry out business meetings, fairs, and conventions. The city of Madrid has so much to offer visitors with the percent of tourists rising by 3 percent, or one million people, during the year 2012. Madrid has 350 museums including art galleries, exhibitions, and fairs. By having a meeting or business gathering in Madrid, visitors can witness and take in the wonderful cultural background of the city with a slight change of pace. Meeting in Madrid would introduce the clients to a whole other prospective in the business world and demonstrate the diversity that can exist in a business relationship and environment. The attendees will appreciate the people of Madrid, the unique culture, and the aura that is present amongst the city streets.

Creating a Blog for Your Event

Posted on: Friday, November 2nd, 2012

In this space, we have discussed the benefits of using social media to promote your event. Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin are all incredibly useful tools, not only for spreading the word about your blog, but also networking at your event. But we haven’t discussed the importance of creating a blog for your event, and how a blog might be far more useful than any form of social media.

Why? Well, first of all, a blog is all yours. You completely control how it looks and what the content is. With social media, you are dependent on their platforms and how they work and look. With blogs, however, you are in the driver’s seat.

You also completely drive the content for before, during, and after the event. The blog can be a perennial website, if you’re event is an annual one. You can use your blog to announce a call for speakers and then have the speakers do guest blog posts in the months leading up the event. Guest blogging is a great way to give your attendees a sense of who the speakers are and cultivate extra interest in their presentation. Of course, the blog is the perfect medium for sharing any and all information regarding your event, everything from travel and accommodations, to breaking news. During the conference, you can feature live blogging, photos and information from backstage, and even presentation material.

Of course an additional benefit of your content, other than informing the reader who is already on board, is SEO. Blogs are indexed on Google, so make sure to use appropriate keywords so people can find you. Remember to connect your blog to all of your social media platforms so your friends and fans can find and share it. Also, don’t forget to have a link to the personalized blog on your homepage.

One of the best reasons to have a blog is that all of the information that your attendees might want or need is all in one place. It’s tidy and organized and it does more than just list details, facts, and figures. The post helps flesh out what’s essential and tells your event story.

Creating Exceptional Learning Experiences

Posted on: Thursday, October 18th, 2012

 

On August 1st, Ron and I traveled to Kendall College to give a presentation regarding meeting content and creating exceptional learning experiences. The focus of the class was to provide the students with the skills needed to effectively plan and execute the educational content of meetings and events. There are many ways to successfully organize a meeting, but many things need to be taken into account. We explored the idea of exceptional learning experiences and found that this type of experience consists of a process where you are NOT told what we are supposed to learn, but we are lead to a point to discover it ourselves. This process becomes personal to the individual and ultimately develops into an experience.

Looking at this definition, we started by addressing the audience of a meeting. Knowing the audience that is being presented to is one of the most important things in meeting planning. Today’s audiences consist of several generations and without acknowledging this, meeting planners could potentially distract and disinterest many attendees. Millennials and Baby Boomers are the two most prominent generations in the audience, so pleasing both has to be regarded. At the latest Nielsen Consumer 360 Conference, Malcolm Gladwell gave new perspective on the collaboration that needs to exist between older generations and the millennials.

Much can be learned through the neuroscience behind meetings and how to enhance how people feel by making them more comfortable. The four key components that increase relaxation include: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness.

To create a personal memorable experience for the audience and attendees, many design aspects should be planned for. Beginning before the event, the planner should, again, assess the audience that is being addressed and make the necessary adjustments. The experience of the meeting should be set up similar to preparing the ground for planting. All of the tools are put into place, but it needs the last component to grow to it’s full potential.  On-site at the event provides an opportunity for the plant to continue to grow and flourish as the meeting progresses. During the general session, sensory design considerations support in the advance of the audience’s personal experiences. Featured speakers address the audience and encourage them to apply these concepts into their lives and business.

Each portion of the event (breakouts, entertainment, panel discussions, etc.) and especially post event material, all build up and allow the audience to form this experience in their own way. The overall experience is ultimately their own and what they make of it. This personalization helps the audience feel important and encourages them that the time out of the office was well spent. These different aspects continue to feed the plant as it flourishes.

Five Ways to Go Paperless

Posted on: Thursday, October 11th, 2012

 

A recent Biz Bash article referenced that as companies continuously strive to become more sustainable, new ideas are surfacing on ways to leave less of an impact on the environment. Going “green” is an ongoing trend in the meeting industry as companies strive to become environmentally conscious. What better way to do this than to go paperless? The article, “5 Tips for Hosting a Paperless Conference” provides great insight on how to utilize the readily available technology to replace regularly used items. This will also pay it forward to the company as they save on costs. The author claims, “This shift is not only environmentally friendly, it’s also cheaper (eliminating printing and shipping costs for materials) and facilitates post-event engagement by allowing attendees to save everything on their smartphones (as opposed to printed conference materials that often get thrown away).” By eliminating paper, the company not only saves money, but also attendees gain an advantage; they are able to save things in an accessible location and reflect on the event by referring back to these stored materials.

The first tip to go paperless is to inform the audience of these changes ahead of time, by using QR code technology or websites. Many attendees expect the typical paper route and if something varies, they may be thrown off course. By filling them in on the upcoming alterations, they can download the necessary software or applications and prepare by learning how they work.

Next, create a mobile-friendly website providing the attendees with the information they would have otherwise received via paper schedules. Attendees will be much happier with a website that is simple and easy to read on a mobile device.

Thirdly, provide assistance during the event. Oftentimes, technology does not work the way it should. In order to counteract potential errors, set-up a booth or station so individuals can ask questions and get support if need be. This also helps attendees feel more relaxed knowing that an expert is there to help them just in case.

Displaying QR codes in diverse locations throughout the event will give the attendees another avenue to learn more about the company or the event itself. Each attendee has a specialized name badge with a QR code linking back to their contact information. This is an easy way to start a conversation with one of your colleagues and it is an organized way to keep track of new networking.

Finally, filling out online evaluations is much “greener” than paper copies. This saves time for the attendees and for the company because the collection of information is done immediately.

When in Spain…

Posted on: Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Our intern Mary Grace Thomas is spending her fall semester in Spain and will be sharing with us over the next few months her thoughts about Europeans, meetings, events and the hospitality business in general. Here’s her first report.

After being in Madrid, Spain for several weeks now I have become accustomed to the cultural differences from the United States. The biggest adjustment that is evident in Spanish culture is time. Time is of the essence here. Nobody is in hurry and things are done at a leisurely pace. Spaniards clearly take their time. This is something new for me, seeing as everyone is always rushing around, trying to do multiple things at once while at home.

The Spanish time differs in the fact that each meal is pushed back by several hours. Breakfast is served in the morning hours before work and lunch is not served until 2:00 at the earliest. At this time, most of the stores and restaurants close for several hours because it is “siesta time”. People should be resting, napping, and relaxing for these middle hours of the day, to be fully energized for the evenings. Dinner is around 10:00 pm and usually lasts until midnight. Of course, after eating this late, one typically doesn’t go to bed until several hours after midnight.

Relating this back to corporate meetings and events, Madrid is a wonderful place to visit for this type of occasion. There are countless places to sight-see and learn about the Spanish culture and history. If hosting an event here, allow the guests time to settle down into the time difference. Be sure to set-up the events and meetings so that the afternoon is free for rest and leisure. Start the day a bit later, so that they are able to sleep in several hours after being awake late at night. Provide a list of places to visit and see, if time permitting, that may correspond with the event theme. For an evening event, visit a local tapas bar for the clients to have the opportunity to experience Spanish cuisine. This type of meal is fun for socializing and tasting new things. This is a great way to get the clients to network with one another without even realizing it.

The time difference in Spain has a large impact on the day’s schedule of events. When planned accordingly, your time can be used to fully enjoy all that the Spanish culture has to offer.

The Ideal Business Meeting

Posted on: Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Early in my career, about 25 years ago, I was reading “How to Run Better Business Meetings” by the 3M Meeting Management Team on meeting planning and came across a quote that I found to be very empowering. When asked, the 3M Management Team expressed their views on meetings. This quote summarizes the importance that meetings hold and the significance of a productive meeting. Yes, there can be meetings when things are not accomplished, but when a great meeting comes along everyone has a new mindset. And great things can happen.

“The ideal business meeting is an organizational jewel. It proceeds without wasted motion from opening to adjournment. It is well-planned, has a defined purpose, and adheres strictly to a prepared agenda and proceeds crisply, dispatching each item on the agenda. When it is over, everyone can leave the room knowing something has been accomplished.

Good meetings bring forth the best in people – the best ideas, the best decisions, and the best follow-up reactions. Not all meetings are good meetings, but good meetings can happen, and when they do, the company and the individual participants reap the benefits.

There is a certain amount of magic when people come together for a meeting. The magic is in the interplay of ideas and personalities that takes place in the meeting room. When the interaction is completed, information has been exchanged, old concepts and ideas have been tested and blended, and new ones have emerged. One of the magical aspects of a meeting is that it can and should be so many things at once – a communication device, a cauldron of creativity in which new ideas are born, and an anvil on which solid plans are forged.” – 3M Management Team

This still rings true today!