Kinsley Meeting Architects: Building Meetings of Dreams Everyday
“If you build it, he will come” (Field of Dreams, 1989)
For those of you who follow baseball or Kevin Costner, this phrase will conjure up images of corn fields and baseball legends from the 1989 classic “Field of Dreams.” In the movie, an Iowa farmer (Costner) hears a voice instructing him to build “it”, a baseball field, so Shoeless Joe Jackson and members of the Chicago White Sox banned from playing baseball could play the game once again.
((Spoiler alert: he built it and they played! (Simple!))
For meeting planners, it might be more appropriate to say "If you plan it, they will attend.” But unlike movie magic, simply building or planning a meeting is not enough. Without strategic thinking, if you just ‘build a meeting’ --- your “players” (i.e. attendees) may show up to the game in swim suits not baseball uniforms, bring tennis rackets instead of gloves, or show up not ready to play the game at all. Organizations need to ask: are my attendees truly coming to play ball? If not, it may be necessary to step back and take a strategic look at your meetings.
Question: Why are you building the field?
Identify your meeting’s purpose.
At Kinsley Meetings, our team is comprised of Meeting Architects. Our approach to meetings involves building the foundation to gather attendees and present content. The design of the meeting foundation has a direct impact on meeting effectiveness. And a meeting foundation built without a purpose, is simply not effective.
Is the purpose of your meeting to allow people to network?
If so, plan interactive social events. Build "white space" into your agenda, so that participants have time outside of sessions to interact. Plan sessions that are not merely didactic in nature (i.e. the "sage on the stage"), and that encourage conversations in the midst of meetings.
Do your attendees attend for continuing education?
If so, offer relevant content in an engaging environment. Surround Continuing Education Units (CEUs) with time to absorb and discuss what individuals are learning.
A city hosting the Superbowl is a perfect example of defining purpose. Cities not only want the economic boost through increased tourism, but according to the Motley Fool, cities are motivated in other ways as well. This includes showcasing the city on a national/global level which can lead to a grand swell of pride in their local population. Defining a meeting’s purpose helps to define its personality, its scope and makes attracting participants easier.
Question: Are your attendees playing baseball in swim suits?
Time for a redesign.
If after defining the purpose, you discover a disconnect with the feedback you are getting from attendees, it may be time for a meeting redesign. Other indicators you need a redesign include:
- Is your industry growing, but your sales are declining?
- Has your attendance dropped from year to year? Or worse…has attendance at a competitor’s conference picked-up?
- Are your educational sessions well attended?
- Are you paying for vendor services you don’t utilize?
According to Newton’s First Law: "An object in motion will stay in motion, just as an object at rest will stay at rest." So too will a stagnated meeting, unless acted upon by an outside force - you. Your sales will continue to decline, attendance will continue to drop and dollars will be wasted – unless you take action. That action may be going through a formal Event Design or Redesign process with an experienced meeting planner. The Event Design/Redesign process will give you an objective look at your meeting, taking into account stakeholder’s interests, meeting event goals, meeting constraints (budget/location) and other key factors. This process can reset your meeting’s goals and enable you to determine where changes may be made to your meeting construct, and where they can’t.
A meeting architect knows that no two meetings are the same. Those differences are not merely in the city or the dates, the way the room is set or the food that is served. The Meeting Design/Redesign process should begin with a strategic look at the desired outcomes of the event, leading into an objective look at meeting elements that either help you achieve your objectives or detract from them.
In the next edition of Kinsley – In The Know, our Kinsley meeting experts will walk through the Event Design process. Like that ‘Field of Dreams’ farmer who understood his vision and built a baseball field worthy of legends in his backyard, a valuable Meeting Architect will help not only sow the seeds of inspiration for your next event, but will be with you to watch it grow and flourish.