Too many meetings and events are organised without any clear idea why they are organised. This leads to a program that - without any doubt - is put together with great passion, but that at the same time lacks cohesion.
Without a measurable objective, both meeting owner and participants can have a very enjoyable day. But the question is: does it have any value, whatsoever?
In our view, you need a specified, measurable goal, to be able to call your meeting a success (or failure). This requiers you to keep asking questions, to dig deeper into what really is the point of your event. An event with an indistinct objective is meaningless anyway. Because if you don't know your target, how can you tell if you hit it? And is you have no clue if you hit the mark, how can you tell if it was worth the investment?
We work with the Event ROI Institute's methodology. It says you can only make your objective smart and measurable, if you make it about behavorial change. Because only when you aim for action, you can measure if it actually happened. Only then you can proof that things have changed for the better is.
An example: if you ask participants if they agree with for instance a new policy, their 'yes' is worthless. After all, it might be that they just say so, for a number of reasons. Only when they actually execute the policy, you can say your meeting was successful.
If we ask meeting-owners for the WHY of their event, they come us with a number of specious arguments.
We do this every yearAn event being an annual happening is a very good motive. But it's nót an objective. In our view you should come up with an objective, each consequative year. And by doing so, it might turn out that the wise choice is to skip a year, or choose a very different format.
We have a highscore at 87 years. So, one client came up with 'we do this every year' for 87 years in a row!
We want to inspire peopleInspiration in general means booking a certain kind of speakers The ones that bring you their great, highly enteraining talk, which in many cases is standard routine and kind of 'full of itself'. The participants will love it, no doubt. But will it change anything?
The follow-up question should always be: to doing what do you want to inspire them? Only if you know the answer to this question, you'll be able to decide on the most effective content and will you be able to give your speakers proper briefing on the desired effect of their talk.
Our people need to be motivated
Als see inspire.
Motivation is more than just shouting at people what to do or why your plans are so great and important. Motivation is about including people in your story. This story is only a good one, if it has a well-designed ending; one that makes your participants actually do something.
We need to share informationSharing information is nót an objective. It makes you the constructor telling the stonemason: "here is pile of bricks ... just build something". The point is to decide what it is that you want people to do with the information. And design your program accordingly to make sure this actually happens, that they know how to do it and that it really makes them want to do it.
We want support
Also see share information.
Support is just a precondition. It's the execution that is the objective. The only way to convince people of something, is by having this clear.
This is a networking event
When you bring people together without a clear goal, all you have is a party. Nothing wrong with that, by the way. But a networking event only adds real value, when you know why you want these people to meet. Is it to get more business, streamline processes, stimulate innovation, or whatever? For each networking-objective you need to design a specific format.
We hope many people will comeThat is a very good objective, if you're in it for the ticket sales. And even then you could argue that you can only measure success by how many buy a ticket again next time. But if you organise a free event for clients or staff, numbers are never the objective. To justify the event, you need to decide which effect you are looking for: more sales or production, clients bringing in new customers, ... you name it.
And then something else: sometimes a small, selective group is far more effective. In that case bringing in just a few people is better.
We want to be trending in social mediaThis one, I see a lot when being a judge in the international events industry awards: "our project scored X-amount of likes". And ofcourse it's great if your efforts to organise a great event are noticed by a large group of people. But this is nót your objective. All the (online) attention only is usefull, if it pays of in more sales, new staff or votes. If people drive more safely, clean up litter, live more sustainably, or what ever your goal was.
If you make sure you have a clear view on your objective, then you can value the likes. Or you can even conclude that all the buzz wasn't even needed to get there and let your event take place in silence.
We aim for a high mark
We see al lot of meeting owners show of with it. And a lot of moderator-colleagues also are very keen on showing that they got an 8,6 in participant reviews. But what is the real value of these grades? I mean: in highschool, I scored a fair share of great marks. But in most subjects, I forgot most of what I've learned. And most grades didn't have any influence on how I lived my life.
And then something else: what do these numbers judge? Far too often, the very generic question is: "how do you rate the meeting/moderator?". What does it tell you, when people give it an 8: lunch was good, the moderator seemed funny, they didn't get too bored?Only with a well-specified objective you can ask well-specified questions. And only with adequately detailed questions, you can tell if an event was effective.
When the client is happy, we areAlso see high mark.
Strictly, this is a perfectly fine goal: the client being happy enough to become a returning customer. But let's not be satisfied too easily, shall we? Because as long as there's no measurable objective, the client is in fact not in a position to say whether he's happy or not. In that case, he's only judging if nothing went wrong, if guests seemed to be smiling etc.
We are only truely satisfied, if our client liked the fact that we gave him a hard time. That we kept asking questions, untill it hurt. That we made him happy by providing a well thought of meeting design. And that he got real insight in the value of his investment in this meeting.
(Yet, we need to be honest, here: we too wouldn't chase a paying client away, standing up for our principles. In that case, we choose taking baby steps and working on a long term relationship).
Specious arguments in fact are just means to an end. So, start by setting your real objective and only then determine which instruments do the job best (inspire, inform, network, ...). This is why we - just like a toddler - keep on asking why, why, why? Please forgive us, it will make your meeting a better one.
Jan-Jaap In der Maur
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