Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio May
Back to Basics
By Martha Jo Dendinger, CMP
IS FACE TIME ALWAYS TIME WELL SPENT?
Choosing the best delivery method for your training
To meet or not to meet? That is the question asked by many
managers today. Is it more effective, efficient or faster to fly
everyone cross-country for three days? Would it be better to
develop a Web site, video or manual to deliver the information or
training? Long the mainstay for communications and training, the
classroom environment is not the automatic choice it once was.
Deciding not to have a meeting will not endanger your job.
Planners still play important roles in the process. You have access
to two caches of valuable information: profiles of speakers and
experts who can develop content, and the demographics of the target
audience. Planners also can use their logistical skills to plan the
production and status meetings that will be needed for the
Here are pros and cons of various delivery methods.
Meetings. Nothing can replace the excitement,
inspiration and teamwork found at a live event, and a meeting is
hands-down the best choice for some situations, such as
problem-solving. Yet, when presented at a meeting, information has
only one life. It is not reusable unless another medium
(videoconferencing, CD-ROM, Internet, paper) also is employed.
Also, meetings can have negative effects. Many attendees are
meetings-weary and are drawn toward more self-directed study,
especially when learning complex material.
Recordings. Video and audio recordings still
are the standbys of self-directed learning. Often, they are
supplemented with printed manuals or offered on CD-ROMs. These
media can supplement a meeting or stand alone.
Because these methods are passive and easy to use, however, some
audiences find them uninspiring; you might need to add incentives
to encourage use. Another drawback is that an instructor is not
Web. The Internet is great for luring adults
into learning environments. Information is updated easily, and
interactivity can be offered through games, quizzes and e-mail
links to an instructor.
One downside is that all members of the target audience might
not have access. Also, the time and money required to establish a
Web site can eat up a budget.
Print. The least expensive delivery system,
printed materials can be used repeatedly and are appropriate for
most audiences. The information cannot be updated easily, though,
and does not offer a feedback element.
Of course, other factors help determine which path is the right
one. Look at the objectives and the message, the audience and its
learning styles, and the costs.
Beware of the manager who comes to you with the delivery system
already defined. Instead, ask, “Which systems will readily and
economically meet the objectives?” For example, online and recorded
programs and print media all deliver illustrations or
demonstrations. But if the purpose is to allow students to practice
taking medical histories, then all of these will fall short.
Next, understanding adult learning is key in selecting the best
delivery system. Adults like information that applies directly to
them and their work settings. Many prefer to learn by doing rather
than by observing or listening. Self-directed students are
well-served by an online format, where they can learn at their own
pace. Other personalities prefer the classroom setting, where
learning is built on interaction and feedback.
The program’s cost can be measured in dollars and time. You must
decide which is more important: the time frame or the budget
Once these elements are factored in, the best delivery system
for your audience should be obvious.Martha Jo Dendinger, CMP, is an independent meeting planner
based in Atlanta.
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