Even in the age of virtual meetings, videoconferences, and teleconferences, nothing is as valuable as an old-fashioned face-to-face meeting or event. In fact, these are becoming even more important as teams spend less time with each other in person.
Making sure the meeting or event goes off without a hitch, is productive, and is enjoyable takes experience and a significant amount of preparation. After planning hundreds of meetings, 3D Communications has learned the necessary steps for success to give attendees the experience they’re envisioning – and prevent common pitfalls that can unravel all of your hard work. Here’s our top 10 tips.
- Keep your eye on the big picture. Understand what is most important to your client. What are the overall goals and objectives? Imagine you are an attendee or the client – what would you be expecting?
- Stick to your budget. Make sure you understand the overall budget and review it regularly. Things can change, and it is easy to go over budget if you aren’t careful. Since it’s better to be safe than sorry, communicate with the client if you aren’t sure about any details.
- Define your meeting’s needs. Highlight your meeting specifications and make them clear in the RFP process. The more you define your specific needs, the easier and less time consuming it is to meet them. It will take you less time to spell out what you need ahead of time than going back-and-forth with vendors to get things right in the middle of the process.
- Establish a timeline. This helps your client know their deadlines for submitting items and shows them when things are completed on your end. This is also a great document to keep track of how the meeting is moving along overall. Always build in a bit of a cushion in case anything gets stalled.
- Communicate with your team. Multiple people will be involved in planning. To be sure you don’t duplicate efforts and ultimately waste time, provide updates and be clear on action items assigned. Follow up with the team to avoid any drift in the project timeline.
- Develop an on-site action plan. Set out key procedures for the following: registration website, invitations, dress code, confirmations, guest arrival, and front desk registration. This will keep your attendees informed and make the process from registration to departure as easy and streamlined as possible. You don’t want anyone wondering what to wear or where to go during the meeting.
- Focus on food and beverage. This may seem trivial, but food and beverage can really impact your meeting. Some clients want to keep options healthy while others love chocolate and sweets at every function. Be sure to know their preferences and stay on top of any dietary restrictions. This keeps attendees happy and lets the client know you’re paying attention and taking care of their attendees.
- Check, double-check, and check again. Reconcile your rooming list frequently, use checklists, plan ahead, and put deadlines on your calendar so you can plan accordingly. Don’t leave anything to the last minute.
- Don’t stop once planning is done. Set up a conference call with the team to review meeting plans, go over the agenda, and confirm set-up and start times. Schedule time to meet with the venue as soon as you arrive, and set clear responsibilities while on-site. Cover any changes and edits as soon as they arise, not the day you arrive.
- Be clear about the big day. Make sure everyone knows who is “in charge” on the event day. Walk the space to be sure the venue has set up everything according to your specifications. ALWAYS count chairs in each room; don’t assume just by looking that it was set up correctly. Make sure you know who your “go-to” people are so you can troubleshoot effectively. Then try to relax!