Top 10 Tips for Successful Meeting Planning
Even in the age of virtual meetings, videoconferences, and teleconferences, there is nothing 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.
But making sure the meeting or event goes off without a hitch, is productive, and is enjoyable takes experience and a significant amount of planning. After planning hundreds of meetings, 3D has learned the necessary steps to planning a successful meeting. These range from making sure you understand your company’s goals for the meeting so you can give them the experience they’re envisioning – to preventing common pitfalls that can unravel all of your hard work.
The ability to juggle many tasks while being highly flexible is essential, and these top 10 tips will help.
Top 10 tips for successful meetings:
- Keep Your Eye on the Big Picture – Understand what is most important to your client? What are the overall goals and objectives? Imagine you were an attendee or the client; what would you be expecting?
- Stick to a 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. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to budget, so communicate with the client if you aren’t sure about something.
- Define Meeting 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 when you need ahead of time than it will to go back-and-forth with vendors– to get things right.
- 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 try to build in a bit of a cushion in case things get stalled.
- Communicate to the Team – With meeting planning, there are usually multiple people involved, so you do not want to duplicate efforts and ultimately waste time. Be sure to provide updates and be clear on the action items you have assigned or taken on yourself. Follow-up with the team to avoid any drifting in the overall 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 at any time 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 very 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 the attendees happy and lets the client know you are paying attention and taking care of their attendees.
- Check, Double Check, and Check Again – Reconcile your rooming list frequently, use check lists, 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 the Planning is Done – Set up a conference call with the team to review the meeting plans, go over the agenda and confirm set-up and start times, schedule an appointment to meet with the venue when you arrive, and set responsibilities while on-site. Cover any changes and edits NOW and not the day you arrive.
- On the Day – Make sure everyone knows who is ‘in charge’ on the 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 in the room that it was set up correctly. Make sure you know who your “go-to” people are so you can troubleshoot effectively. Now try to relax; if you’ve planned accordingly, things should go smoothly!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jodi Nelson is a Certified Meeting Planner who brings more than a decade of meeting planning and conference experience to 3D’s clients. Jodi orchestrates all aspects of client mock meetings and FDA Advisory Committee meetings, from sourcing venues to managing vendors. Jodi has planned investigator meetings and scientific conferences around the world for thousands of doctors and scientists. Connect with Jodi on LinkedIn.