Are you really focusing on the WHY of your meeting or event?

For the last three weeks I have asked my followers on LinkedIn three very important questions about meetings and events:

  1. What is the one thing you would like to improve or enhance when it comes to meetings and events in your company to make them even better?
  2. What does experience mean to you?
  3. What made the best meeting or event, you have ever attended, the best meeting/event ever?

And boy, did I receive some interesting answers – answers that show that meetings and events people are passionate about what they do. Answers came from near and far, from close friends and strangers who are friends, I just haven’t met yet, some answers were short and to the point, others were more elaborate.

In this post I will sum up the answers on the first of these three questions (if you want to read the summary of answers for question number 2 and 3, you can read them here and here). Please note that this is my no means a scientific post … but the thoughts and ideas from a variety of meetings and events people that I treasure.

What is the one thing you would like to improve or enhance when it comes to meetings and events in your company to make them even better?

There was overall agreement and several comments that the most important thing for future events it to focus on the objective of it, the WHY.

Together with this objective focus we will also have to consider the value of the event, the content, the social media use and the user experience – time has run out on just thinking about the logistics when you plan an event.

Dave Leong nailed it with this description: “Events will need to tell their story. It’s that simple. We can no longer get away with launches with no strategy, keynotes with no throughline or consumer activations that don’t generate brand love. Our ability to use events to communicate will be the only reason to continue.”

Regarding the user experience, Antti Lumiainen says he “thinks the user/attendee experience needs to be more in focus. And in some cases, it can even be a question of ‘If this meeting is worth having live or could it be an online version’. Just so that when we do a live event, then the impact has been fully thought out. It needs to be an experience from start to finish, but also before and after. One strength of live events is those chance meetings that you get. It is easy to divide people based on their interests and fields, but often the best income is of those meetings with people that have almost nothing in common. Those usually create the new innovations.”

As I answered Antti on LinkedIn: “I couldn’t have said it better myself!”. And I could have said exactly the same to Dave. It is as simple as that!

Live vs. virtual events

While talking of live events, my dear friend Nikola Danaylov took us back to ancient Greece to shed a light on why we value the face to face meeting: “I am old school and still believe that in-person teaching and communication is by far the best. That is why Socrates went to the market, Plato had the Academy, Aristotle had the Liceum, Epicurus had his garden etc.  And for all its conveniences and comforts tech, while useful, is still not able to quite capture that. So, I am looking forward to meeting more people again, person to person, and hopefully not too far from now. In the meantime, I am simply trying to improve myself as a person, as a speaker, as a citizen of the world, as an author etc. This downtime is a great opportunity for us all to turn it into uptime.”

So, the personal meeting is in our genes and cannot be replaced. Being able to look a person in the eye and feel him/her builds trust. Feeling the chemistry (or lack of) and getting that ‘vibe’ is important to figure out if there are grounds for collaboration. You will never get that same feeling behind a screen, and this is why I believe that though the meetings landscape has changed during the last couple of months, we WILL meet in person again.

And while we long for the personal meeting we have embraced the virtual one, but we have to remember to add value to our remote audience. Attendees still need interaction during the meeting, so going virtual is not just a matter of ‘throwing’ more webinars out there.

Safety matters

Last, but not least, there was the question of safety at events … and I am actually surprised that only one person discussed this. As Keneisha Williams put it: “I definitely want to spend additional time on emergency preparedness strategies for all events. Often these are either overlooked OR done very vaguely. I know our job is already demanding but this situation has taught us that anything can truly happen and even more so when many peoples’ lives are in your hands.”.

I could not agree more with Keneisha. This situation has definitely taught us that being prepared is important – and that you actually have to pay attention to the fine print! We tend not to focus too much on the legal matter in for example a contract with a venue here in Denmark (at least not compared to the US), but people have suddenly realized that you have to beware of the fine print. And unfortunately, some people have learned a lesson the hard way.

What meetings and events improvements has this new situation made you think of?