Ever sat in event planning meetings waiting for conversations to actually lead to a decision? We all know taking decisions is indeed hard. Endless convivial and often circular conversations is alas the easy option.
Now I like to chat just like the next person. Alas many of the events meetings I have attended over the years have felt more social get together than focused planning session. At the end of the meeting I need to know that we have made the best use of this ‘precious time’ together. The catch up chatter can happen once the meeting business has concluded and last as long as you like or other plans and lack of coffee dictates!
Making every event planning meeting minute count
I am not saying we cannot have a laugh; drink coffee and eat biscuits. What I am saying is that meetings should be purposeful and productive occasions designed to solve problems, stimulate ideas and importantly generate actions. Like event programmes it should have an objective, be sequenced and start and finish on time. Everyone should also be fully prepared and you the event manager (meeting organiser) should be the ‘best’ prepared person in the room. I also suggest having a few spare copies of key documents – just in case!
To add to this if you want a really productive meeting (a meeting people feel has genuinely achieved something: moved your event a step closer to a successful conclusion) I suggest you use a decision based agenda. When the agenda is sent out to all participants it tells them that the following XYZ decisions are going to be taken at the meeting. In the accompanying email you would remind everyone of this fact and ask them to come prepared.
The practicalities involve allowing say 20 minutes for a group discussion (ensuring all relevant parties are heard). At the 19th minute start to wind down the discussion, prepare a summary of the options and then ask people to make a decision and go with the majority. This process carries on until all the listed decisions are taken. Once this has happened, you can return to standard agenda items such as the project plan and budget.
Event planning meetings need to consistently deliver decisions and not more chat. Why? Because every time you don’t make a key decision you could be compromising the potential success of your event. The longer it takes to make decisions the less time you have to promote your event: increasing the chances of possible failure.
Well run face to face event planning meetings are indeed a fundamental part of a successful event. They do however need to be active decision making occasions and not talking shops.
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Chris Powell, The Event Expert specialises in helping accidental, occasional and professional event planners design, plan and deliver their own events If you want to know how to run great event planning meetings and importantly great events then check out my In-house short event management training courses covering all types of business and public events.
Chris, The Event Expert