Meeting professionals often hear they need to be more strategic in order to succeed.
The successful meeting professionals that can move seamlessly back and forth from the logistics to the big picture are those that rise to the top. They are the ones that gain a seat at the executives’ table.
Defining The Strategic Meeting Professional
So what exactly does being more strategic mean? How can those charged with managing the details begin thinking differently without overlooking the logistics?
Here are seven perspectives to adopt to transition from logistics to strategic thinking.
1. Transition from details to relationships.
Transition from just thinking about the details to considering how those details enhance or hamper relationship building.
The conference is ultimately about and for the people. It’s not about room sets, coffee cups and plates. It’s about people connecting with each other and sharing experiences about the content. Don’t become so focused on the minutia that you miss the main objective for the conference – helping people connect.
2. Transition from function to value.
Move from thinking about the function of the meeting space to the value and ROI that attendees seek. Don’t let the meeting space define the use. It should be the other way around; the use should define the meeting space.
What are the registrant’s goals for coming to this conference? How does the meeting space help you reach those goals? Do the room assignments hinder people from reaching those goals?
3. Transition from efficiency to effectiveness.
Stop just assigning meetings and speakers to schedules and instead start thinking about the effectiveness of those speaker’s presentations. Do the assigned schedule topics create a narrative? Are they threaded and connected to the conference’s main theme? How effective is taking valuable session time to pass a gavel to the next year’s board chair?
4. Transition from formulas to outcomes.
Don’t just put all your emphasis on the food and beverage formulas you’ve used for years. Focus on the overarching goals of the conference and how you are going to help achieve them. Yes the formulas work but how do they help you reach the goal? Don’t focus on the math, focus on the outcome.
5. Transition from featuring facts to making meaning.
So often the conference is nothing more than a smorgasbord of information dumps and fast facts. Participants don’t always make the connections between the facts and their daily work. Instead of sharing realms of research, help participants make meaning from the most relevant facts and how to apply them.
6. Transition from a series of education sessions to a community of learning spaces.
For years conference organizers have ignored the hallway conversations. We’ve intentionally moved informal seating out of pre-convene areas so we can corral people into large ballrooms. We’ve missed the opportunity for our participants to create a community of learning spaces.
7. Transition from schedulers of speakers to curators of content.
Don’t just automatically schedule speakers selected from the call for proposal. Instead, think about the problems your registrants have that they want solved. Curate content around those problems. Then thread the sessions to an overarching theme.
What are some other strategic perspectives that meeting professionals should adopt? What should you do when you have a meeting professional that can’t or won’t transition into strategic thinking?
Marvin McTaw, Sched.org says
My favorites were, “Move from thinking about the function of the meeting space to the value and ROI that attendees seek.” and “Curate content around those problems [attendees face]. Then thread the sessions to an overarching theme.” I think you hit the nail on the head when you said meeting professionals have to be more strategic in their thinking and execution. Don’t let your circumstances (e.g. rooms, speakers) define their goals. Thanks again Jeff for another great piece!