Even with the availability of video conferencing, meetings are a staple of business life that aren't going anywhere anytime soon. A chance for people to sit down and really engage with one another face-to-face can be vital to the business' success. As the planner, it's your job to make sure the meeting, or series of meetings runs smoothly and that attendees feel taken care of before, during, and after the experience. At OTR, we've discovered a few foolproof ways to make sure our meetings never miss their mark.
Before meeting day, go big on branding. Offering your client plenty of interesting branding opportunities makes the client feel taken care of and makes you look like a superstar. Sure, we all know about pens and notebooks, but what about something more interesting? The key is choosing items that are useful, otherwise things get tossed almost immediately. For smaller budgets, go with stickers or water bottles. For bigger budgets, the sky's the limit! Hoodies, floor decals/mats (like the one above), or quality canvas bags / backpacks are perfection.
Recently, we have been really into banding our food, like these lazer cut swizzle sticks, above, by 43 layers. Branded desserts, ice cubes, or a literal brand on your breakfast sando. We swoon! Need more ideas? Check out this recent post we did featuring some super cool branding options.
Don't leave guests guessing. It's important to use signage and properly placed greeters and information tables to funnel guests into the right place with everything they need. Have packets pre-stuffed with meeting info and any other necessary collateral with the guest's laminated name tag securely clipped to the outside, with a pile of lanyards close by. This helps keep you organized and prevents your guests from having to juggle and dig too much. Want to avoid paper altogether? For a great bonus that can double as swag, offer event documents on a USB instead of in a packet, or ask them to download your own app. Companies like Eventmobi make it easy. Make sure greeters welcome guests with instructions, including something like, "Head straight through those doors, grab a seat, and help yourself to the breakfast bar!"
Choose foods wisely. Let's be real. Everyone loves decadent event food because they feel free to cheat on diets when work is footing the bill. Choose delicious foods that don't keep guests' hands full since meetings often come with some note-taking requirements. As few forks as possible, please! We are also big fans of afternoon pick me ups, like colorful macaroons, matcha shots, or a trail mix bar. In SF? Our go-to catering services are Metal and Match, or Mixt Greens for meetings..check 'em out!
Prep for and expect tech disasters. Technology is a double-edge sword. Of course, we love the having the capability to connect with coworkers around the world, but there's a certain level of risk involved. When there's a one hour presentation scheduled with a company in China, there's a lot riding on technology running smoothly. Always test equipment ahead of time, including video and audio, and have any content (videos, presentations) sent to you in advance. Make sure that you have an IT person on-call for emergencies. If hosting in a hotel or at a venue, have the IT person be in the vicinity before any video conferencing begins. Gaff tape and extra dongles are always in our kit. Make sure to pre-save any emergency numbers in your phone so you're not scrambling if static steals the stage.
Plan after meeting activities, but make them easy on guests. After a day full of meetings, guests may be fried, so what would be more welcome than some easy plans that they don't have to put thought into? You can go as basic as booking a big table or private room..the key, however, is simplicity. We love to make custom city maps with local highlights around the area, for guests to enjoy at their leisure, especially at night. Company offices, or a new project in town, highlight that on the map as well! The extra time and thought go a long way, plus this custom map is a keepsake of the trip or conference.
If all else fails, put yourself in the guest's shoes and think through the experience. What questions would you have when walking into an event blind? Simply answer these questions ahead of time with signage or simple instructions. Be sure to make yourself available as the meeting goes on. Your presence will be appreciated and guests will take note when things go off without a hitch!
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