by Michael Shapiro | July 21, 2011

Next week, at MPI's World Education Congress, MeetingMetrics will unofficially launch a new way of measuring meeting effectiveness. As you may know, MeetingMetrics offers a platform by which to measure return on investment for your meetings, as well as so-called "return on event." Based on methodology developed by the ROI Institute, the platform uses surveys to establish learning objectives before a meeting and then compares post-meeting feedback to gauge the effectiveness of that event, looking at a gaggle of different meeting characteristics and resulting attendee behaviors. The results are compiled in a thick report, providing meeting organizers with stacks of insight into what worked and what didn't.
ROI measurement can be a bit complicated, particularly for the uninitiated, and even using a platform like MeetingMetrics takes time: The true return on investment can't be measured until survey results from months after the event are analyzed. A good meeting's effects are likely evident in sales or attendee behavior, for example, many months down the road. What makes MeetingMetrics' new product interesting is its simplification and immediacy.
That new product is a single-number score called the Meeting Effectiveness Index, and it's a calculation based on the answers to just six post-event questions (although that number could increase a bit down the road) After years of calculating ROI figures and establishing benchmarks, explained managing director Ira Kerns, the MeetingMetrics analysts were able to compile a set of questions that are highly accurate in predicting the outcome of a meeting, in terms of its ultimate strengths and weaknesses. The beauty of this, said Kerns, is that the complexity of analysis all happens behind the scenes. The meeting organizers need only to add a small set of specific questions to their typical post-meeting survey. Then, using statistical analysis methods more common to psychological and social predictive modeling than to meetings, and running the results against MeetingMetrics' extensive database of past meeting scores, MeetingMetrics can predict the ultimate success of that meeting in terms of ROI. It’s like getting a predictive instant snapshot of that meeting before the final results are fully developed. With that information in hand, planners can begin to make adjustments and budgeting decisions before the ultimate ROI numbers are established.
"We know the accuracy is high and that the strength of analysis is effective," Kerns noted, adding that the statistical analysis technique comes from organizational studies by MeetingMetrics' parent company, GuideStar Research. "It's a totally new animal in terms of meetings measurement."
The Meeting Effectiveness Index will first be available to MeetingMetrics licensees in late August. By late fall, said Kerns, he hopes to spin it off as an additional service, also available as a stand-alone product for companies that aren't already licensing the MeetingMetrics platform. A process is already in place, he said, through which data could be imported and run through the same analysis as currently used by clients already on the MeetingMetrics platform. Kerns will be handing out literature and happy to discuss the technology next week in Orlando.