Have you ever asked a client, "Why do you hold this meeting?" If so, the answer might have been, "Oh, you know...We do it every year!"
I've always been fascinated by how organizations spend a huge amount of time and money to define their strategy, but fail to see how that strategy ties into meetings and events. Following are 10 questions to ask key stakeholders before beginning the process of arranging a meeting.
1. What are the main objectives of the organization for the next three years?
If you don't have a direct connection with the high-level executives who can best answer this question, do some Internet research and see what you can find out online.
2. What are the key strategic imperatives for the next 12 months?
If you have the opportunity to ask this question of all the top executives individually, you might find that they are not aligned themselves!
3. What are the top challenges the organization is facing externally?
How might these issues impact the year moving forward? Is there anything that should be integrated into the design and the content of your event that might help resolve these challenges?
4. What are the main internal challenges?
How could these factors impact on the content or atmosphere of your event? Don't expect people to dance in the evening if you announce a re-org in the afternoon.
5. What are the expected outcomes of this event?
Why is your organization investing resources in the event? How will it help your organization to execute on its strategy? Would it change anything if it didn't take place? What do you expect to achieve?
6. How will we measure the expected outcomes?
If you don't measure, you don't exist! This doesn't mean you should run a full ROI study every time, but at least define, from the beginning, how you're going to measure and report the expected outcomes.
7. What is the main message you want to convey during this event?
If there is one thing attendees should remember, what will it be?
8. What will be the follow-up?
How many times have you been to an amazing meeting with great sessions and phenomenal entertainment and then, on Monday morning back to the office, it's like nothing had ever happened? How can you extend the benefits of the meeting further in time?
9. What is the profile of the attendees?
The true value of an organization is the sum of its motivated talents. Who are your attendees? What makes them click? What are the emotional insights you could gather?
10. What is the budget?
You should have a clear understanding of what can be spent to achieve the meeting's objectives. Now is the time to have a frank discussion with meeting owners if the budget is not sufficient to achieve the expected outcomes.
Eric Rozenberg, CMP, CMM, is executive director, BtoB events network, at BOB.tv; he also serves as managing director, event strategy practice, at Culture22 Communications Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.