Thanks to Tim Brown, CEO of Meeting Sites Resource, for this amazing blog post.
He reminds us that "managing meeting stakeholder expectations" is a critical part of our job description. On the surface, this topic seems like a no-brainer, since most meeting planners' core skills are meeting planning, execution and logistics. But often, that is the problem: with a complete focus on being "efficient," many meetings today are not "effective."
Now don't get me wrong, meeting logistics and implementation excellence is a must in our rapidly expanding Strategic Meeting Management (SMM) environment, but equally important is a meeting needs assessment process that identifies all stakeholder goals, objectives, and results in a specific plan to deliver and measure success.
The need for measurable meeting ROI and expanded collaboration to achieve big picture meeting goals has increased the number of people with their hands, or fingerprints, on the overall meeting management process. The key is to identify each stakeholder, understand his role and specific contribution, and then become a resource to him to assure quality outcomes. Think of yourself as a general contractor working with many internal and external sub-contractors to build a magnificent house (in this case, a meeting).
In the SMM world, managing expectations is called Return on Objectives (ROO). Simply put, this is making meeting visions a reality. Here is my quick overview regarding Return on Objectives: “The ability to identify meeting stakeholder(s) objectives for each meeting and create meeting design, content and communications that address each objective. This includes post-meeting analysis that measures results and validates that meeting objectives are achieved.”
To assess the scope and complexity of stakeholder communications, an interesting exercise is to create a stakeholder communications chart, “connecting the dots” to the many internal and external people, services and support essential to assure a highly successful meeting.
• Human Resources
• Corporate Communications
Strategic meeting objectives go beyond meeting budgets and cost savings, and this requires both collaboration and value-based thinking to achieve maximum results. When you meet or have a phone interview with a key stakeholder and identify specific goals and objectives for a meeting, it is important to present your recommendations and plan to assure that you are on the right track. Your post-meeting analysis of each defined objective, as well as measurement of the actual outcome, validates your success -- just making it happen is not enough, so “keep score” and report results.
• Hotel Departments
• Conference Services
• Business Center
• Audio Visual
• Registration & Housing
• Exhibits / Trade Show
• Cruise Ship
With your meeting stakeholder goals and objectives in hand, it is critical to evaluate and select suppliers and partners who will understand and embrace these essential visions and be part of the team that will deliver predictable and high-impact outcomes. Keep in mind there may be multiple suppliers to deliver on one objective, so the planning, communications, and collaboration processes are critical.
Meetings are big investments and today meeting planners must get in to the heads -- and hearts -- of meeting stakeholders at all levels to orchestrate a total meeting experience that raises the bar on meeting value, attendee interaction, and ROI.