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By Debbie Locklear
The key to pulling off a successful meeting hinges on a number of elements. However, the primary item for success is advanced meeting planning.
Projects that have been organized with short lead-time will typically reflect some of the same characteristics. The most notable one, due to the meeting planner racing around in all directions, develops an ineffectual performance and potentially can alter the effectiveness and profitability of a meeting.
To maximize your organization’s investment in a meeting, advance preparation is a necessity for producing the results desired.
Meeting planners, when given the time to do a thorough and accurate job, should clearly define the purpose and objective of the meeting. This first step permits the planner to develop a meeting that will generate positive responses from the attendees.
Through advanced meeting planning, more time is available to investigate a variety of options, such as locations, special activities, theme development, meeting format and production. The meeting planner won’t have to settle for something merely because it’s their only remaining option.
Negotiating for the best services and facilities at fair prices is possible when there’s as much time as possible available. Whenever the options are limited due to availability, negotiations will generally not be too favorable for the planner.
The goal of any professional meeting planner is to create original events to compliment the meeting’s objective. With plenty of advanced planning, a planner has the opportunity to be creative. Nothing quite inspires a meeting planner like the ability and freedom to produce a meeting that is so unique in design that it stimulates enthusiasm in the participants.
Promotional plans can be useless without the proper amount of lead-time. If the goal is to generate attendance at the meeting, time is required to promote it properly. The promotional plan should include a pre-attendee analysis (ask attendees what it will take to get them to the meeting), a date saver (a method to announce the date of the meeting), a teaser (a mailer that generates interest) and the registration brochure.
While developing a meeting requires time, it is worth the investment. There is a universal law that applies to meeting planning as well as other situations: You get in return what you put in.
Professional meeting planners suggest the following minimum time schedule for planning exceptional meetings:
One-day meeting – promotion needed – 8 months
One-day meeting – in-house attendance – 6 months
Two-day meeting – promotion needed – 10 months
Two-day meeting – with activities – 12 months
Three-day meeting and up with activities – 18 months
In short, maximize your meeting planning efforts by planning in advance. You will save money, but also produce a higher quality meeting, generate attendance and avoid the tension created when the planning process is accelerated.