As a meeting planner, you know exactly what you and your organisation want to achieve and what your key message to the participants is. But do you know what the participants would like to hear and experience? What are the challenges they struggle with at the moment? What annoys them, what makes them happy, what are they currently on the outlook for?
Knowing your participants’ needs and expectations from the meeting is a great starting point. This knowledge will allow you to grab their attention and exceed their expectations. In other words, you’ll finally be able to surprise them. Besides, it will make participants way more positive towards your intentions as a meeting planner, eager to hear what you have to say!
Participants have three basic needs when attending large meetings.
They came to:
– learn more along the way
– meet new people
– take home new energy and enthusiasm
It’s going to take some effort on your part – courage! The courage to bring some innovation to what happens on stage. The courage to come up with activities that will make your participants get up from their chairs and do something meaningful together while getting to know each other in the process.
It’s not uncommon to hear many participants complaining that they “haven’t heard anything new” because they tend to book the same presenters again and again. Same old, same old – they say the same thing they always do. And that’s how it goes – well-known speakers sell tickets (or attract favourable notice).
So what you’re facing here is several pretty conflicting participant needs. As the organiser, you can meet all of them if you shuffle the cards right: make sure you book both a crowd-puller and a little-known speaker who will surely come up with something brand new.
Another thing you should consider incorporating is engaging activities after each plenary presentation that will help your participants connect and digest the content. Here we’re not just rambling about doing a bunch of activities just for the sake of fun. Experience shows that the activities based on the content of the meeting are highly successful because participants tend to perceive them as more meaningful.
But, hey, don’t forget the laughter – set the mood by giving your participants something to laugh about together. It will surely help you on the need number 3 as your participants will leave feeling revived.