The Nine Biggest Mistakes Meeting Planners Make
By Debbie Taylor
Planning any kind of event is a complex, time-consuming process, filled with potential pitfalls. All kinds of factors, big and small, can mean the difference between your meeting being an outstanding success or a dismal failure.
As you’re planning your event, avoid these common mistakes.
1. Heighten Learning by Choosing the Right Meeting Room
A sub-par environment diminishes the ability of your speakers to be effective and makes your attendees uncomfortable.
Before you book the venue, scope out the room(s) thoroughly. Are there good
site lines to the stage? Is the sound system clear and crisp? How are the
acoustics? Is the lighting bright enough? (And is it adjustable?) How is the
temperature controlled? Is there good Wi-Fi reception? What’s the noise level like
outside the room? How many bathrooms are there? How big are they?
Even furniture can effect learning – we are more alert when sitting in straight-backed chairs and more comfortable in ergonomic chairs for long periods of time.
Tip: Many venues will invest a lot to make their meeting rooms look nice, but will
cheap out on the sound system. Check it!
2. Not including proper force majeure provisions in contracts
Meeting planners work very hard to ensure that no problems will arise in
connection with the meeting. We have all experienced many reasons why a
meeting is interrupted—hurricanes, snow, union lock outs, etc. These events are
out of the control of either party to a contract. Yet, unless the issue of force majeure is properly addressed in the contract, a group may have little to no protection in the wake of such events.
Tip: Have more than one person review the contract.
3. Not knowing what else is occurring at the venue
What is booked in the meeting room next to yours? If some group is having a
Grateful Dead concert with only an air wall in between, you want to find out before—not after—you book the room.
Tip: Let your sales contact at the venue know what types of groups you are and are not willing to be near, so they can factor that into their future sales efforts.
4. Not hiring professional speakers
Too many meeting planners will budget for meeting space, food, A/V, décor,
printing, and even alcohol, but don’t budget anything for the one element that
can make the biggest impact on their attendees—the speakers!
Your attendees want to expand their knowledge base and skill sets, and
professional speakers are the key to achieving that. Professional speakers are not
just subject matter experts, they are also skilled at engaging audiences and
helping them learn more effectively. In addition, many speakers custom-tailor
their presentations so you get an outsider’s perspective along with an insider’s knowledge.
Tip: Have your executives write out the goals of the meeting and the role the professional speaker(s) will have in meeting their objectives. Be sure and schedule at least one conference call with the speakers to discuss your goals. It is Important to have at least one of your company executives on this call.
5. Selecting the wrong speakers
Some speakers look good on paper, but don’t perform well on stage. Some
speakers are terrific presenters, but are a nightmare to work with. Some speakers
are phenomenal with certain groups, and not so phenomenalwith others. Vet your speakers thoroughly. Does the speaker you are considering use Power Point? Pictures not just words are better learning tools compared to a boring slide with too many words. What experience do they have and how long have they been speaking.
Tip: Speakers Bureaus save you time in finding the best speakers for your budget, goals and audience, as well as keep you from hiring prima donnas. All at no cost to you! Be sure the company you use to book speakers belongs to IASB. IASB members adhere to strong ethics have more experience than an entertainment company. http://www.iasbweb.org/
6 Choosing the wrong A/V Company
Great audio/visual work doesn’t get noticed, yet is a huge factor in a successful event. Poor A/V can doom even the best speakers and entertainers.
Tip: Check A/V companies’ references and be sure they have experience in the
Venue you have chosen
7. Not using IMAG
You wouldn’t consider not amplifying the speaker’s voice. It is also important for your audience to see the speaker.
Budget for and use IMAG (Image Magnification) when you have more than 150
guests in a long and narrow room or more than 300 guests in a square room.
Tip: Always have enough in your budget for a dress kit. Those naked screens look
cold and detract from the atmosphere you’re trying to create.
8. Using the wrong seating arrangement
Rounds are fine for a meal, but not for any other type of program. Unless your speaker/entertainer is performing during or immediately after the meal, use a
different seating arrangement.
For a motivational speaker or humorist, theater style is ideal. It creates the right atmosphere because attendees feel like they’re at a theater or club. (Think about comedy clubs—people are more likely to laugh in crowds in a tight area because
laughter is contagious.)
For a content speaker (sales, marketing, leadership, etc.) set the room classroom style. This way everyone can see the speaker and has a hard surface on which to
Tip: Set classroom tables in a chevron, and curve theater style seating so that everyone has a better view of the speaker and screen.
9. Putting an aisle in the wrong place
One of most common mistakes I see meeting planners make is setting the room
so that there is a large aisle right in the middle of the room. That’s where
the best seats should be! Instead, set two—or even four—aisles, with seats in
the center. As bonus, setting more aisles makes it easier for attendees to come and go.
Tip: Aisles don’t need to be as wide as most meeting planners think they do, especially when you have more of them.
Bio: Debbie Taylor is the founder of Taylor Made Events & Speakers. In business since 1994, she has worked with companies including Jackson National Life, Hewlett Packard, AT&T, and ADT Security. 303-979-9373
Taylor Made Events & Speakers
5320 S. Garland Way
Littleton, CO 80123
• 303-979-9373 • Debbie@TaylorMadeEvents.com