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Meetings often have a bad reputation as a good way of wasting time but these eleven types of actions will ensure everyone’s on track and working towards a successful event.
Meetings get a bad wrap:
“A meeting is an event in which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.”
And who can forget the words of economist John Kenneth Galbraith, “Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.”? But when it comes to event planning, they are necessary.
Of course, there is a little office humor in the fact that you must have a planning meeting to plan a meeting. But that’s certainly the situation. In most cases, you actually need north of ten of them. Here are the ones you want to get everything straight to ensure you have a successful event.
Client Info Meeting
This is likely to be your first meeting. In this meeting, you will flesh out the goals for the event, the ideal attendee, client desires and expectations, and all the other details that will go into making the event a success like the when, where, and why.
Venue Selection and Vision Meetings
Next you will often have a number of site visits to select the best venue options. Armed with all the details on the event, you can go about narrowing down event venues and make a final decision with your client. Once you have one that fits, you’ll likely sit down with the venue manager, sales associate, members of your staff, and client. In this meeting you’ll go over the details of the event as they apply to the venue, addressing such things as layout, design, food, AV and more.
Next, it’s time to assemble the team. Whether it’s a group you’ve worked with several times or a brand new group of suppliers, getting everyone on the same page about roles and responsibilities is key to the success of your event. It also helps by introducing the people who will work together early on so that they have a relationship with each other that is independent of you.
Marketing Planning Meeting
Marketing shouldn’t be relegated to a handful of weeks just before the event. And remember everyone is in marketing these days so this meeting doesn’t have to be just traditional marketing people. You can include anyone who can help you spread the word, including deciding how you will reach out to industry influencers. In it, you want to come up with a marketing strategy and assign roles so that everyone is clear on what they’ll be doing for event marketing.
One-on-one Sponsor Meetings
If your event will have sponsorships, it’s important you meet with each one to assess their needs and how you can best work together. What are they expecting? What do they want out of the event? How can they improve their reach with their target demographic? Part planning session and part role assignment, this meeting can make sponsors feel like they are getting a lot of value out of their sponsorship.
Speaker Selection Meeting and Speaker Meeting
If you have speakers for your event, you’ll likely need to select them in some formal fashion. An open exchange regarding speaker applications is the best way to do this. Once speakers are selected, you should have a brief phone or video call to ensure they understand your expectations on the event. This meeting should also get them excited about your audience.
Venue Commitment Meeting
Once you've signed all of your paperwork, and you’re a few weeks out you’ll want to ensure the venue manager or account manager is ready for your event by confirming the following:
- Room block - what’s left and what still has to be used?
- Audiovisual needs
- Decorations and room flow/seating
- Signage needs
- Personnel dedicated to the event
- Any other details specific to your event
Go over everything with the venue. Don’t assume even a small detail. Confirm, confirm, confirm.
Having a brief run-through meeting a day or two before the event can help all team members solidify their knowledge of who’s doing what. Ideally, this meeting would occur in the space that the event will take place and will feature an informal walk-through that includes all the team leads. This ensures that everyone knows who heads up which areas and who the main points of contact are. This meeting should be brief and high energy because the event is finally coming together.
Post Event Team Meeting
It’s always important to the success of your event to perform an event recap at the end where you cover what went well and what can be improved upon. This event debrief template will be helpful for this meeting. If you have an “off-season” marketing plan to drum up interest for next year, this is also where you will discuss roles and responsibilities in implementing it.
Post-Event Supplier Meetings
These meetings can be done in two parts depending on the size of your event planning team. A large team could review supplier relationships among themselves first, going over what worked and what didn’t and then follow it up by meeting with the supplier. But if you’re managing everything yourself, you can skip this step and meet with the supplier on your own. The goal behind these types of meetings is to solidify the working relationship for future events if you had a good experience. If you didn’t, this is the meeting you have to improve working relationships or cast them aside.
Post Event Client Meeting
Host a brief post-event client meeting to present the data and successes to your client and to present tips to them about how they can stay connected with their attendees after the event. And get them excited about some of your initial ideas for next years event, of course!
While meetings may seem a special kind of drudgery when there’s so much going on, they are essential to ensuring everyone is hearing the same thing and understands their roles.
Make them interactive and not just you speaking orders. Getting everyone involved is the reason to host a meeting. If you’re planning on doing all of the speaking while everyone else listens, you can do this on a call or in an email.
Set a clear agenda with objectives to facilitate conversation and stay on track. Be respectful of others’ schedules and accomplish the things you need to in as little time as possible. Finally, review takeaways and deliverables for the next meeting. If you follow these steps your event planning meetings will meet your goals and contribute to the allover success of your event.