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Category: Money Savers for Meetings

16 May

5 Fresh Ways to Build Buzz & Engagement in your Next Meeting

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster Magical thinking, as illustrated here, is just that. But wouldn’t you rather aim for practical thinking over magical thinking?! After all, a fresh idea that’s well executed can transform attendees’ and the hosts’ experiences. And it can further position your meeting as cutting edge and unmissable. To that end, here are 5 new ways to inject innovation and impact for your participants—and even generate more revenue for your organization. 1-Help Shiny Objects Shine Brighter Handheld electronic devices in the hands of many meeting goers often distract others who are trying to focus on the meeting experience. When some audience members just HAVE to be consistently online during a conference, reserve them a special spot in the meeting room where their screens and efforts won’t bother colleagues. At TEDxSeattle, we place self-identified attendee bloggers, for example, in box seats in our theatre. A roped off area at the back works just as well. Bottom line? Be service driven and intentional, and everyone’s happy. 2-Meet Beyond the Ballroom When you’re hungry for a change of scenery and looking for an unusual, affordable venue, check out www.PeerSpace.com. You might think of it as an Airbnb for meeting…

09 Jan

You CAN hear me now

Just one phone call separates status-quo meeting planners from exceptional meeting professionals. It’s what I call a Message Continuity Conference Call. And it’s a crucial component to events with multiple speakers. When you schedule this special call with all your outside speakers and your internal meeting message team, you get happier audiences and stronger meeting outcomes. Plus it’s simple, free and team-driven. How it works: Once you know who will take the stage at your event, particularly “outside” keynote and breakout session presenters, find a time when everyone can be on the phone together. (This often requires planning quite far ahead.) In advance, send everyone a short document in which you describe your meeting-message strategy. Don’t have a strategy? Call me and we can discuss how you can get one. During the call, your goals are to reinforce the most important concepts you want your audience to experience as a result of the meeting and ultimately create more message continuity. Give callers an opportunity to share their content plans, and ensure everyone’s on board with ways to unite and align messages for more impact. Invariably–in the simple act of conversation–themes and patterns emerge that you would not otherwise know about. Connections…

05 Dec

2 More Strategies to Fund Event Games via Sponsorship

(Part 2 of 2. Click here for Part I) With all the buzz about integrating games into events, you may thinking YES! Let’s get a meeting app with a game to engage our attendees. And in the same breath: um, how do we pay for it? 1.     From cost- to profit-center Allowing current event sponsors—and/or new ones—to get in the game by sponsoring your digital or non-digital game is a smart way to help fund the experience. Moreover, with the right strategy, a game can go from a cost- to a profit-center. How? By approaching the right sponsors with the right opportunity at the right time, you ensure attendees play an engaging, business-objective-based game that also achieves brand awareness for sponsors. Most clients of CrowdCompass make many times more in sponsorship revenue than they invest in the cost of the app, and these apps consistently cost less than printing event programs, according to their director of marketing, Matthew Donegan-Ryan. Mountain Travel Symposium, with support from QuickMobile, integrated sponsorship into their game, which included a gallery tool. To share personal experiences at the conference, participants took photos and earned points to exchange for gamer-only discounts at sponsored stores and restaurants near…

03 Dec

3 Effective Strategies to Fund Event Games via Sponsorship

Start small, win big By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster With all the buzz about integrating games into events, you may thinking YES! Let’s get a meeting app with a game to engage our attendees. And in the same breath: um, how do we pay for it? Know this: when you play your cards right, your game-ful app can become a popular engagement tool; a printing-, paper- and money-saving conference program; and, indeed, even a profit center. But to win at this game, note these five important rules to heed first. 1.     Start with the end in mind You set yourself up for success with your game when you make thoughtful decisions based first on your audience—not on what you and/or your sponsors think is best, warns Trevor Roald, mobile technology evangelist with Vancouver, BC-based QuickMobile. As a planning tool, Roald and his team use the Forrester-recommended POST (People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology) strategy. Originally created for marketing and biz-dev professionals, POST is now being used in mobile application development. POST ensures you put the people (not the tech) first, and build your objectives and strategies around them. What incents your attendee: Competition? Collaboration? Sustainability? The answer will inspire the game’s…

04 Nov

Are your Meetings Backward?

Better timing, better brains, better outcomes By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster I’m so enjoying speaker / author / happiness researcher Shawn Achor’s compelling new book, “Before Happiness.” Here’s one of the many applications in the book for us as meeting professionals: how to structure meetings to maximize our brain power. Most meetings are designed in such a way that first, in a general session, broad comments are made, themes presented, courses for learning set. Then, we break out into smaller groups for deeper education and application. These breakouts often end right before lunch (and long after breakfast), with exercises that require heady integration and deep thinking of all we’ve been exposed to for the last few hours. Often, the same keynote/breakout/cram session is scheduled for the afternoon, ending just before dinner. (Whew—pass the margarita pitcher, please!) Yet, as Achor’s book and research point out, our brains are least able to handle full-on cognitive tasks at these pre-meal points in the day.  He explains how, given traditional meeting agendas, “…the most critical plans and decisions are made when our brain glucose is the most depleted [i.e. right before a meal]. We are doing our conferences backward! Instead, if you are…

11 Sep

5 ways to book a speaker at no cost—or at a greatly reduced fee

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster As the economy grows, the supply of top-tier speakers can exceed demand. When your budget doesn’t quite cover the cost of your best-fit expert, consider this: by making some investments in research and strategic partnership, you can reap big dividends, secure top speaking talent and generate the impact you need without breaking the bank. Here’s how: 1.     Share the Wealth—and Raise YOUR Stature If your organization has multiple layers or departments, you’re likely sitting in the midst of a missed opportunity. Let’s say you work in customer service, hold an annual conference for your employees or your customers, and plan to invite a “name” keynote speaker. You can save money and spread the learning across the enterprise by teaming up with your cohort in, say, sales or HR. Offer this other department the chance to share the speaking talent you’ve invited by joining you at the event OR scheduling their own program on the same day. Cost splits could work in a number of ways: Offer to split expenses 50-50 Alternate years or quarters: for the first event, your departmental budget is tapped; then next quarter, or next year, your partnering department covers the…

30 Apr

6 more fresh meeting formats to powerfully engage participants

(A continuation of the blog posted immediately below) To generate ground-breaking ideas for meetings, I first ask: “How will we engage meeting participants in ways that could never be experienced outside of this event? This one question elevates and disciplines event design. It also generates engagement tools that are exceptionally suited for building more meaningful connections among participants and delivering content that makes long-term impacts. Whether your time slot is five minutes or five days, what makes meeting formats fresh and effective? To expand on ideas for meeting formats, I reached out to author, speaker and cutting-edge event designer Jim Gilmore. In producing unique meeting formats, Gilmore, co-author of The Experience Economy, draws from a rich mix of footprints and techniques. Regiception: Participants typically use receptions to just connect with those they already know. Foster fresh energy and easy networking with a “Regiception”—a mash-up of your registration and opening reception at which attendees mingle and register to experience something truly new. Include food, drink—and a variety of themed activities, such as throwback board games, so multi-generations can play with and learn from each other. Small group? Savor a Lunch of One. Feed them both physically and mentally with a “lunch of one” as you…

29 Jan

5 MORE un-boring ways to open your event

As we discussed in my last blog below, boring meetings begin predictably: Thank yous to sponsors, announcements of new leadership, a hello from the host city’s mayor. Of course, we all love sponsors, leaders and mayors. But what’s your audience thinking and feeling? That your event is going to be the same old, same old. They tune out before the program can even get going. On the other hand, non-boring, engaging meetings begin with unexpected approaches that immediately gain people’s positive attention, build buy-in for your entire event and create unprecedented event buzz. Try these simple, affordable ways to open your event—and then let the Tweeting begin! Consider: what is your organizational equivalent of the iPad release? Then announce this milestone or achievement as your opener. Plant and spread what infotainer Brian Walter calls a “verbally viral” idea. These are concepts that take hold quickly, as they positively build buzz and boost learning. A literally fascinating speaker and author of the book “Fascinate,” Sally Hogshead offers audiences a tool for opening her keynotes in a distinct way that builds buzz and buy-in weeks before people even get to the room. As a benefit to registration, attendees have access to a…

22 Jan

5 new & un-boring ways to open your event

Boring meetings begin predictably: Thank yous to sponsors, announcements of new leadership, a hello from the host city’s mayor. Of course, we all love sponsors, leaders and mayors. But what’s your audience thinking and feeling? That this is going to be the same old, same old meeting. They tune out before you can even get going. On the other hand, non-boring, engaging meetings begin with unexpected approaches that immediately gain people’s positive attention, build buy-in for your entire event and create unprecedented event buzz. Try these simple, affordable ways to open your event—and then let the Tweeting begin! Have a custom song written for and about your organization. You’ll create a one-of-a-kind moment in time that will be remembered long after the last verse. Need resources? Click here. Invite a marching band or drummers to usher attendees to and through your room. Your local high school or university will likely come at no or a low cost. Or hire the exceptionally talented Drum Café. In advance of your event, hold a contest for the best “year-in-review” commemorative video (or some other category that fits for your event). Then announce the winner by showing his or her video as the opening…

05 Dec

The best gift you can give meeting attendees

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings Newsflash: You don’t need to give meeting participants iPads, Kindles or cash to reward and recognize them in style. In light of this annual season of gifting, we offer you 5 affordable, effective ways to recognize and motivate your people during events—and beyond. First, consider that the #1 motivator for almost every employee or meeting attendee isn’t, in fact, money (whew!). According to Mel Kleiman, internationally recognized expert on recruiting, selecting and retaining the best hourly employees, it’s actually recognition. Yet over 60% of American workers say they have received no recognition for their work in the last year. (huh?!) Take advantage of recognition as a most powerful motivator in and beyond your meetings–with any or all of the following recognition tools: 1.   ROCK your event: Random Acts of Conference Kindness: low-cost gifts given in memorable ways: A juicy example of integrating anticipation into an event, referenced in PCMA’s Convene Magazine: SHRM staged a powerful surprise at a 20,000-attendee convention. Their Random Acts of Conference Kindness (ROCK!) segments fostered interaction and happy surprise—without without a hefty price tag. Lisa Block, SHRM’s director of meetings explained: Out of nowhere, staff appeared…

29 Nov

Top 21 Strategies for Successful Hybrid Meetings

Attending the uber-fabulous EventCampVancouver in person earlier this month—itself a well-executed hybrid meeting—I learned a great deal about hybrid meeting best practices. Hybrid business meetings, once an occasional event, have indeed gone mainstream. Whether you’ve staged them, attended them, or simply wondered and worried (!) about them, the following tips—taken from the EventCampVancouver experience—will likely boost your success as a planner and attendee. After all, as a fellow camper in Vancouver rightly said, “Hybrid is a toy if it’s not a part of well-honed strategy.” [A working definition: hybrid meetings are simply events at which audiences meet live (in-person) WHILE other attendees tune in virtually.] STRUCTURE and FORMAT: 1.      Among EventCamp attendees who’ve executed hybrids, no one indicated that their hybrid meeting sabotaged attendance from their “regular” meeting registration numbers.  Contrary to what some believe, hybrid meetings are inherently ADDITIVE to your current audience base and ability to stage more viable events in the future. And, take note:  confident organizations take the risk of staging hybrids so more voices are heard. 2.      You can boost the potency of a previously real-time-only event by adding hybrid components. 3.      If, for whatever reason, you’re not ready to hold a hybrid meeting, start…

19 Oct

Managing—and better yet, PREVENTING—Speaker “No-Shows”: Top 8 tips for Less Stress

By Andrea Driessen, Chief Boredom Buster, No More Boring Meetings A no-show speaker is most meeting planners’ worst nightmare. You can lessen or even eliminate this stressor—and boost your peace of mind—with the following strategies. Remove the possibility of flight delays. When hiring an out-of-town external speaker, include a clause in your agreement that requires your speaker to book a flight with at least one back up or buffer flight after it, in case the initially booked flight is canceled or delayed. This simple step can save you untold worry. In some cases, you can offer to pick up the speaker from the airport yourself, or ask a colleague. You maintain control, save money on ground transportation, and enjoy rare, one-on-one time with your speaker. Ask, or even contract, to ensure external speakers call you upon arrival in the event city—an easy way to boost your confidence and composure. Ensure speakers have everything at their disposal to arrive at the right venue, at the right time, in the right room. This may sound obvious, yet details can fall through the cracks. This includes accurate driving directions (don’t just rely on web-based mapping programs—we all know it can be very wrong),…