We’re all in the meetings business. We understand how effectively meetings can increase collaboration and communication among teams and help organizations reach their business goals. But, in our efforts to plan a successful meeting, sometimes we lose sight of the “why.” Why are your attendees being asked to gather in the first place? What do they hope to get out of the event? When they return home, will they reflect positively on their time away? Can we get them to put their phones away?
Before you dust off your plans for yet another meeting, it may be time to disrupt your thinking altogether. Consider these three tips for finding your meetings mojo:
1. Get Your CEO on Board Early
What keeps your CEO up at night? Chances are he or she is worried about attracting and retaining quality talent, driving sales performance, and gaining a competitive edge. But you don’t know until you ask. When you tap into the thinking of your top leadership and use meetings as a way to help address these pain points, great things happen. Meetings can be an effective tool to educate internal sales teams or channel partners about new or existing products and company goals. Meetings can also help create a culture of support that fosters a positive work environment, helping to make your workplace highly desirable.
By getting your CEO involved in the meeting planning process early, you can tailor the experience to address specific issues. When all systems begin working together, your meeting becomes a catalyst for change. Attendees walk away with a deeper understanding of the top priorities of their leadership team, and when executed perfectly, your senior leadership truly understands the tremendous value a successful meeting has on an organization.
2. Focus on Engagement
According to Gallup, 68.5 percent of the U.S. workforce is disengaged. This alarming statistic begs the question: How many of those uncommitted individuals will be attending your upcoming event? Meetings can be viewed as just a day away from work, or as an exciting, educational, teambuilding experience. To ensure yours is the latter, consider engagement activities early in the planning process.
One strategy is to use mobile apps that energize attendees well in advance of a meeting and keep their attention long after they’ve gone back home. We’ve experienced great success with gamification, leaderboards, and live social-media feeds. We recently deployed a mobile app for a technology company’s annual user conference with more than 6,000 attendees. The results were astounding:
• The number of apps downloaded exceeded the number of attendees.
• Attendees accessed the app an average of 15 times during the conference.
• Attendees engaged with the app an average of 47 minutes.
• More than 2,400 attendees played the embedded game designed to encourage engagement.
Your meetings’ ability to motivate and connect with your channel, your sales team, and your employees carries over to the bottom line. CSO Insight reports that when more than half of your sales team is actively engaged, organizations meet or exceed sales quotas. When you consider that acquiring a new customer can be up to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one, the value of using meetings to engage your team is clear.
3. Add a Reward Element
According to the Incentive Research Foundation, incentive programs can improve performance by an average of 22 percent. Not all incentives are the same, however. In order to motivate employees and build a positive culture, incentives must have value and meaning for each recipient. That’s where many incentive programs fail. If program managers are guessing, rather than relying on the psychology of program participants and real data, then incentive programs will not get a return on investment.
A keen understanding of your program participants is crucial to incentive success, as is making sure those people understand how the program works: Who is eligible? What do they have to do to participate? How are they rewarded? Constant communication will keep your participants motivated and engaged.
Though incentive travel programs often stand alone, adding reward and recognition elements into meetings is a great way to show appreciation to attendees. We put this into action at the Subaru of America’s National Business Conference by creating The Love Promise Award Gala. Subaru understands that giving back to local communities drives many of its individual retailers, so we helped the company embrace this spirit with an incentive program that recognized retailers who went above and beyond in giving back. The program culminated at the gala, where Subaru named a “Retailer of the Year.” Not only did this motivate retailers to look for ways to help their communities, but it fostered a commitment to Subaru’s mission to go beyond selling cars and make the world a better place.
Don’t waste your time and resources creating a meeting that’s just a “day off” for attendees. Instead, design an experience that they’ll be talking about long after the meeting is over. A well-executed meeting can enhance teams and increase your bottom line. By finding your meeting mojo, you can create a customized experience that will speak to all attendees—even your CEO.