You’ve spent hundreds of hours planning, communicating, double- and triple-checking and it’s finally here: The Night Before Your Meeting. Everything is on track, speakers and VIPs are en route, the facility is ready to go, all your gear is present and accounted for and you’ve set four alarms for the morning, so you don’t sleep in. The only thing left to do now is pray.
Pray for a smooth show, that everyone attends, there are no emergencies or fires — although you are prepared if they arise. But how will you know if the meeting is a success? There’s likely a public thank-you from the podium, several “great job” comments or “lunch was amazing” kudos. The buzz was fantastic and the education component sparked dialogue both in and out of the sessions. Somehow, you’re expected to measure this and put it all on paper.
As meeting planners, if we’ve done our job well, nobody knows we’re even at the meeting. We love to operate behind the curtain, a la The Wizard of Oz, living two hours ahead of the attendees, anticipating everything. More and more, we are also expected to be strategic planners as much as we are meeting planners. This means clearly understanding the goals and objectives of the event months in advance, and building every element of the meeting to feed those goals. It also means you are responsible to craft a post-show survey that captures, and measures, how effective your meeting is against those goals.
It is this measurement, of the value of meetings, that makes the difference between good meetings and great meetings. Through formal education or years of experience, many of us are skilled in the tactics of meeting planning. Fewer of us, though, are skilled in strategic planning. It is this skill that we need to develop, as individuals and as an industry. As we celebrate our inaugural Best Meeting in Canada awards, I hope you can learn and steal some best practices from these events that applied strategic planning, understood the value of their meeting and measured it, for all to see.