An event strategist knows that content is the key to a successful meeting. While the logistics are important, they are all too often prioritized over a well-run general session and breakouts. I have found the two main culprits for this to be:
1. Most planners don’t find content to be as “sexy” as the front-of-house logistics.
2. We don’t know how to strategically manage content.
Strategic planners focus solely on an event’s goals and making sure every aspect of a program tracks back to achieving those goals. From room setup and menus to content and its delivery, every program element is a tool to further the designated message.
Take on the Content Challenge
Traditionally, business meetings are held to deliver a message. That message is most often communicated with content. (Networking or incentive trips can fall outside this rule.) That message is usually conveyed formally via a speaker presenting in front of an audience. Nothing new here.
But this is the challenge: Have you ever looked at those slides in advance, edited them for accuracy, copyedited them, taken them as a whole and made sure they aren’t redundant or conflicting? Reformatted for optimal presentation?
Have you considered presentation length versus the average attention span of the listening audience? What about projection quality and screen size to the room? How many handheld and lavalier mics? Having “Voice of God” versus an emcee? Using transition slides? Still store graphics? Play-on and play-off music? Programming for confidence monitors? Should you arrange speaker run-throughs and blocking?
If any of this has your head spinning and/or sounds like gibberish, we need to talk. In order to deliver an effective, goal-achieving event, a strategic planner has to know how to program a general session, vet and handle speakers, audit content, understand the principles of adult learning, and know how to create a solid rundown sheet, complete with cues.
If you don’t have the time, bandwidth, or desire to do any of the above, you need to get familiar enough with the concepts to hire someone to do the work for you. Hint: if you’re hiring in-house AV because it’s never occurred to you to do otherwise, I’m talking to you. Please don’t roll your eyes and say you can’t afford it. Cut the floral budget and invest in what matters. No executive is going to sell more widgets citing inspiration from a centerpiece.
Let’s get a conversation started.
1. On average, how much time do you spend on the general session production and content versus program logistics?
2. If you were tasked with evaluating speakers and hiring keynotes, how comfortable would you be doing that?
3. Do you see the value in investing in meeting content? Do your executives?