Everyone wants a successful meeting, whether it is held in the best surroundings or the worst. Details matter and there are several that can contribute to members of your audience walking out, shaking their heads, falling asleep, or not retaining what was covered.
These hints are based on what I have discovered over the years, often based on my own experience, either as a meeting planner or as an attendee at other meetings.
Things to avoid:
- Having sessions that are too long.
- Covering too many topics; generally five are all that will be retained.
- Not having useful promotional gifts or printed material with your five topics reiterated.
- Serving heavy breakfasts or lunches, as they are sure to induce sleep.
- Over-heated meeting rooms promote nodding heads.
- Scheduling 5-minute breaks instead of 10 or 15. Attendees need the break.
- Not having a meeting room close to rest room facilities.
- Dim lights, unless during a presentation, and then raise the lights as quickly as you can.
- For a long meeting, standard banquet chairs are not comfortable. For an all-day event, check out the chairs during your site inspection.
- Being in a resort destination and not allowing time to enjoy the resort. Start your meeting earlier if necessary to accommodate this need. Otherwise, it may cause resentment among the attendees.
- Not taking the time to check meeting room set-ups ahead of time, especially for AV equipment use.
- Not having a backup plan, should a presenter not show up.
- Allowing presenters to go overtime and taking time away from next speaker.
- Not remembering to ask attendees to turn off cell phones.
A good meeting planner takes all of these items into account. If you are new to running a meeting, use these as a guide of what not to do. It may help you increase effectiveness and gain positive results.