Successful meetings are the ones designed with smart objectives in mind from the beginning. In the world of meetings and conference management, creating a lasting image on the delegates is becoming an ever more essential element. Design your meeting by creating a memorable affair with happy attendees who share the experience with others later. Experience creation has become an important factor ranging from the types of activities planned, food and beverage served and layout of the venue to the style of presentations, décor and entire format of the conference.
But when it comes to measuring the impact of a meeting experience, if experience creation is the buzzword, the key, of course, is to start with a clear goal so outcomes can be benchmarked. When the attendees leave the conference and go back to their jobs or regular lives, what do you want them to do differently is the ultimate goal.
If you want an action to be performed, such as using a new software program or an app, implementing a new strategy or joining a discussion group, make it possible for the attendees to do it right at the meeting rather than waiting until later. Or provide some other incentive or a reward for follow-through. For meeting planners and venue operators, that means changing the structure of meetings to incorporate more sensory, emotional, or physical elements into the meeting to drive learning and decision-making.
If a successful measure of a networking meeting is how many meaningful conversations they have, one needs to ensure the meeting is set up to allow those elements. The idea is to do a sensory audit of the environment. Consider how the length of sessions might impact attention spans. In longer sessions, many attendees say that introducing an interactive or stimulating hands-on element at least every 15-20 minutes provides the best learning outcomes. Consider what factors may affect the outcomes and look for ways to mitigate the shortcomings.
Measuring outcomes is not the same as measuring satisfaction. Make sure you know who is attending the meeting, and what their needs and expectations are. Knowing whether a speaker was good or not provides feedback for them and for future planning, but it doesn’t tell you anything about whether the meeting met its goals. You can ask people of their intentions to take action, but the true insight comes in measuring if they actually do.