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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, April 28, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 27, 2017

CONVINCING THEM IT’S A GOOD IDEA
The most difficult part of change can be convincing stakeholders that it’s needed. You’re working with people who see the meeting through their own filters, including long-held beliefs (beef for Thanksgiving, anyone?). This allows for healthy debate, but can be a stumbling block when consensus is the goal.

How can you manage the conversation without tearing out your hair?

Tip #1

Know your audience

  • Know your supporters and detractors.
  • Pre-wire key influencers.
  • Determine how your stakeholders best accept change—managing the scope (not all at once); demonstrating the new practices (see it in action); hearing it from an outside expert (they always know more than you, right?!); etc.

Tip #2

Prep them

  • Identify strategic goals in advance so everyone starts on the same page. The goals are not part of the discussion, they are the basis for it. Support this by listing them on your agenda.
  • Provide examples of:
    • successful use elsewhere
    • measurable benefits
    • potential outcomes if change is not accepted
    • additional material needed to support objections you’re likely to face

Tip #3

Allow for time acceptance

  • Build in time to ponder the proposals. Don’t expect full acceptance at the first meeting.
  • Get feedback, asking for their likes, concerns and suggestions.
  • Consider a phased-in approach by introducing changes over several years instead of all at once.

One Awesome Idea
Make them feel the change, not just think about it
Your stakeholders’ responses are loaded with emotion. To sort that out, assign each stakeholder a role that represents one participant perspective (e.g., young professional, seasoned exhibitor, one discipline, etc.). Coach them to put themselves in that person’s shoes as you verbally walk through your meeting, asking them to think about how they feel as they “attend” the meeting.

You need to be a great storyteller. Stay neutral by focusing on the outcomes. They need to shed pre-conceived notions and to stay in their assigned personas.

When you get to “happily ever after”, discuss their reactions to determine if you’ve built consensus, need to tweak some things, or try a new approach.

Want More?
There are many resources about persuading stakeholders. Check out a few based on the Google search “how to persuade stakeholders.”

Source Credit:
Aimee Gabel, Solar Energy Trade Shows, LLC and David Saef, GES MarketWorks, who presented the awesome session, Win Stakeholder Support for Cutting-Edge Programming at PCMA’s 2016 Convening Leaders.

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

Tags:  association  events  isae  Leadership  marketing  meeting planners  meeting tips  meetings  social media 

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, April 7, 2017, Friday, April 7, 2017

 

 

TWEAKING TO ENGAGE

 

Increased participation and engaged meeting participants may be as simple as tweaking the design of your event. 

 

Even if your target audience has not changed, the people representing that audience have. How might you better serve your current audience? 

 

Tip #1

People use time differently today. Have you kept up with the changes?

  • Ensure your arrival/departure pattern is still the best fit for your current potential participants.
  • How long is your meeting? How many overnights are required? Would making it shorter or longer serve participants better? 

Tip #2

Design your agenda so attendees have time to create their own experiences.

  • Plan informal time purposefully. This is when serendipitous encounters are more likely to occur and where memorable experiences are created.
  • Consider longer breaks, shorter sessions, ending earlier and/or starting later in the day.
  • Plan unscripted receptions and meals—let them simply eat and talk.

Tip #3

Make it hybrid; it will increase participation, not decrease it.

  • Before you do anything, clearly define your objectives for adding a virtual aspect to your meeting.
  • Plan your strategy based on your objectives and prepare for it. 
  • There is a lot to gain, but also a lot to consider going forward. Find links to more information in Want More? below.

 

One Awesome Idea

Condense your trade show into one high-impact event.

What if your trade show opened and closed on the same evening? I implemented this successfully for a 500-delegate /40-booth convention and trade show.

 

Schedule it for several hours, maybe 5:00–9:00 pm, on your opening day. This is your welcome event, which I call the kiss & hug event, creating the first opportunity for engagement and connections.

 

Provide plenty of food and beverage so they don’t want to leave to eat dinner. Serve the area’s specialty dishes (bite-sized), plus local beer and wine. Serve appetizers the first 30 minutes, the entrées the next 60 minutes and lots of desserts until close. Scatter service stations throughout the exhibit hall to create your next source of engagement—the natural connection over eating.

 

The third connection actually comes the next morning after the show is moved out and rounds are set in their place. Breakfast with exhibitors allows small-group conversations with participants who sit with one exhibitor who is hosting a table identified with a simple table tent.

 

This model works well with smaller groups that can visit all of the booths in a short time. It is enhanced if the exhibitors, as part of their booth fees, are full convention registrants and stay for the remainder of the event to continue informal networking.

 

Want More?

Planning hybrid events:

These are older articles, but the content is still valuable:

 

Making changes:

This is a case study of an association doing more than just tweaking. Click here for Reinventing Its Outdated Education Model, PCMA Convene, August 12, 2015 

 

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

Tags:  association  meeting planners  succession planning 

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, March 3, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2017

                        Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

 

TARGET AUDIENCE

Is your meeting audience as diverse as it could be? Have you really thought about who your meeting is designed for and whether you are reaching all potential registrants?

Thinking about this could increase your attendance (and income!) and enhance the level of expertise by broadening your list of participants.

Tip #1

List types of people/positions affiliated with your industry. For example, if you’re planning the Annual Convention of Dark Green Architects, your target audience is Dark Green Architects, but could also include:

·         their co-workers in other departments, e.g. light green architects, designers

·         professionals from affiliate industries, e.g. engineers, mortar specialists

·         academics and students from universities

Tip #2

Your association leadership is one of your target audiences.

You are primarily planning for Dark Green Architects, but your board and committee members may want/need a say in your meeting design, making them a target audience.

Tip #3

Plan only for your target audience.

Don’t toss in a session for non-target audiences in the hopes more people will show up. Be clear who you’re planning for and then plan well for them. That will increase attendance.

One Awesome Idea

Ask members what types of people help make them successful and then pursue them as future participants.

Ask them one or all of these questions:

1.      What types of people do you partner with in your job?

2.      What types of people would you like to connect with at the meeting?

3.      What is one type of person not with your same expertise who has influenced how you do your job?

Want More?

Check out this blog by Jeff Hurt of Velvet Chainsaw. He uses exhibitor satisfaction as the basis for target audience identification, but the concept supports all aspects of meeting planning. http://velvetchainsaw.com/2012/11/09/identifying-segmenting-conference-target-audience/

DMM|1703|03-03-17

Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been planning meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She recently decided that coaching meeting planners is now more fun than proofing BEOs, counting coffee cups and writing scripts. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website! (www.saalmeetings.com)

Tags:  events  meeting planners  meeting tips 

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, February 17, 2017
Updated: Monday, January 30, 2017

 

Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

OBJECTIVES

Meeting success requires writing, not just thinking about, why you’re planning your meeting. These, of course, are your objectives and they serve two purposes to:

1. Tell you what to plan.

2. Tell you what not to plan.

Number 2 might be surprising, but objectives provide you with a great way to keep you (and those over-zealous volunteers!) from straying into the Meeting Planning Vortex. (see my definition; click here)

Tip #1

Write objectives that address stakeholders, the association and the industry.

Consider all the reasons you’re planning your meeting from making $xx (be specific) to creating a place where industry professionals can laugh together. Yes, that can be an objective if that is really your goal. Consider how your meeting benefits the industry and various stakeholders to help focus your thoughts. Also consider how your budget might influence your objectives.

Tip #2

Write objectives for every meeting, even the oldies, but goodies.

Writing objectives for a repeat meeting, the 132nd Annual, for example, might seem unnecessary. You’re having the meeting because the association has had one for the past 131 years for heaven’s sake! That meeting needs written objectives just as much as a new meeting does.

Tip #3

Just say NO to projects, tasks and other distractions that do not fulfill the objectives.

When someone wants you to “just do one more ______ (fill in the blank),” blame those objectives, just say NO and remind them why you must stick with fulfilling objectives.

One Awesome Idea

Do it yourself to get it done quickly.

Instead of asking your planning committee to write the objectives, you write at least three and ask them to fine-tune them. You probably know them better than they do anyway and it will save you lots of time.

Want More?

To learn exactly how to write objectives, check out a blog by Courtney Muehlmeier of TEAMINGS Successful Meetings. (http://teamings.com/blog/how-to-sharpen-your-meeting-objective/)

DMM|1702|02-17-17

 

Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been planning meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She recently decided that coaching meeting planners is now more fun than proofing BEOs, counting coffee cups and writing scripts. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website! (www.saalmeetings.com)

Tags:  meeting planners  meeting tips  meetings 

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Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, February 3, 2017
Updated: Monday, January 30, 2017

Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Welcome to Dana’s Meeting Minutes! Every other week I will share Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Association Planners. Wow!

Each blog will stand alone, but will also build on the previous blogs. I will give you actionable ideas that will make your job easier, impress your stakeholders, and/or make your participants say, “I love that!”

Most installments will be short and concise. I will provide links to additional resources, including other planners’ great ideas, just in case you want to learn more about a topic.

I’ll start by introducing you to THE MEETING PLANNING TRIANGLE©, a simple way to plan new and critique existing association meetings.

Its strength is centered on your meeting’s well-written objectives that will guide decision-making in three key areas: 1. Target Audience 2. Meeting Design and 3. Participant Experience.

Click here to download The Meeting Planning Triangle.

OBJECTIVES

Objectives are the foundation for your meeting and provide guidance and instruction for planning it. Planning without objectives is like building without blueprints. You have no directions to follow! I’ll share tips about objectives next time.

EVENT DESIGN

This is the basic structure of your meeting: where you’re having it, when you’re having it, and what you’re doing once you’re there. For example, your meeting is in Chicago (location); starting on a Thursday, ending on a Sunday in the spring (timing); and includes breakout sessions, special events, and exhibits (SOE). Of course the schedule of events (SOE) will be very detailed; just go with this for the example.

PARTICIPANT EXPERIENCE

Planning a participant experience is based on the understanding that how a participant feels about being at your meeting influences how s/he rates his/her return on investment (ROI) and desire to return in the future.

All meeting aspects will fall under one of the three areas. The areas where they merge is where you fine-tune your planning. If you stick with me, you will gather tips about all aspects.

You may notice one major missing aspect—the budget. It is not a focus area because it influences each area in its own way. I will remind you to remember your budget as you consider my tips and awesome ideas in each blog.

DMM|1701|02-03-17

 

Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been planning meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She recently decided that coaching meeting planners is now more fun than proofing BEOs, counting coffee cups and writing scripts. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website! (www.saalmeetings.com

 

Saal Meeting Consulting

http://www.saalmeetings.com/

Designing and Transforming Meetings

 

 Attached Files:

Tags:  event design  meeting planners  meetings 

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My Event is Underperforming Part 2

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Friday, July 1, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Simple and Impactful Changes to Abate Shrinking Attendance 

Last month, in my article, Shrinking Attendance? Ask Questions; Don’t Appoint a Task Force, I challenged planners to honestly examine key event areas. Following are a few ways to make changes that will make a difference. 

Create an Experience

  • Announce the event with an “experience-saver “ instead of a datesaver. Convey what attendees will feel. (Emboldened to improve xx using newly acquired skills. Enlightened by the hallway conversations with peers.)
  • Build the experience from registration to arrival. Frequently remind registrants about their upcoming experience and roll out the red carpet upon arrival.
  • Close the event with a personal touch—station leaders at exists to thank attendees and distribute next year’s experience-saver.

Design all aspects of pre, during and post-event to create anticipation and elicit emotion.

Modify your model

  • Abbreviate your trade show and enhance opportunities to connect. Exhibitors don’t want more hours. They want more quality interactions.
  • Modify the pattern—different season, days, order of events, length of breaks, start times, etc.
  • Accommodate young families or elderly participants—or both. Make it easy for your entire target audience to attend.

Design the event so most attendees’ expectations will be fulfilled, not just those of a few decision-makers. 

Switch up your programming

  • Add experiential learning—hands-on, interactive, case studies, etc.
  • Let attendees design their own learning at unconference sessions or customizable tracks.
  • Include programming not related to work, but is personally rewarding. (Like we do at SPINCon.)

Next time…Resources—Where to Get Inspired

 

Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been a meeting professional since 1986. She is an expert in the design and execution of association meetings, with a record of increased participant satisfaction and registrations. She designs training programs, meetings and conventions for associations, specializing in helping associations rejuvenate underperforming events that target audiences want to attend and are profitable for the stakeholders. 

 

Tags:  meeting planners  meetings 

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My Event is Underperforming Part 1

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Friday, June 3, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Shrinking Attendance? Ask Questions; Don’t Appoint a Task Force

It’s like a slow leak. You’ve ignored it, but it’s time to identify its cause. You must determine why attendance shrinks each year.

Instead of appointing a task force, convening focus groups, or analyzing years of data, honestly answer the following questions that are designed to look beyond the obvious (e.g. lack of funds). When you uncover the reason for the decline, you can design the solution.

Note: It will be the most challenging, and the most rewarding, to do this for annual events on the lather-rinse-repeat plan.

Event Objectives

  • Do you have event objectives and regularly critique them?
  • Are they achievable with your current resources?
  • Do they inspire your target audience to participate?

You can plan an event without objectives, but it’s more likely to be underwhelming.

Target Audience

  • Can you identify your target audience? Write a comprehensive list.
  • Are your messages well written? Never, ever again use “a must-attend event.”
  • Do you customize message delivery to ensure they’re read? Snail mail and phone calls still have great R.O.I.

If you don’t target your target audience, they won’t know to attend.

Industry Changes

  • Has your target audience shrunk? Aging, consolidation, etc.
  • Are there more opportunities for them to get what your event offers? Is your competition’s event better?
  • Have any of them changed how they spend money? More research, less education; more online learning, less travel; etc.

Look below the surface and at the people who are not there.

Programming

  • Is your programming customized for your target audience? Really? Do they agree?
  • Do you design program delivery to satisfy all types of learners?
  • Do attendees have lots of opportunities to connect? 

If your event is not designed for the needs of your target audience, they have no reason to invest in it.

Next time…Simple and Impactful Changes

 

Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been a meeting professional since 1986. She is an expert in the design and execution of association meetings, with a record of increased participant satisfaction and registrations. She designs training programs, meetings and conventions for associations, specializing in helping associations rejuvenate underperforming events that target audiences want to attend and are profitable for the stakeholders.  

Tags:  events  meeting planners  meetings 

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