PLANNING THE WRONG MEETINGS HOW WILL YOUR EVENT BE PERCEIVED - PART TWO
January 9th, 2012
Planning the Wrong Meetings: How will your event be perceived? This is a reprint of the second half of an article that appeared in the renowned Speaking of Impact Magazine.
We asked two prominent professional speakers, Warren Evans, CSP, HoF and Donald Cooper, CSP, HoF, to talk about meetings being panned and even cancelled because of bad press about their optics the perception that they are extravagant, wasteful and not worth the investment. Here are their thoughts.
Donald Cooper, CSP, HoF
Most of us have spoken at conferences held in some exotic destination where we were the only legitimate thing on the agenda, which was actually constructed to prove to the tax department that the meeting was a business expense. At one such meeting, I was booked for 90 minutes and they asked me to cut it back to an hour because everybody wanted to get on the golf course. The rest of the three-day agenda wasn’t going to happen.
What I see coming out of that are tighter budgets for meetings and organizations trying to get more for their money. Clients are pinching pennies, using more industry speakers and negotiating with professional speakers to lower fees or do more sessions during the conference. Most of us have been offering that kind of added value all along, but we didn’t always think to advertise it. Recently, I created a one-sheet called Nine ways I can add value to your program making me the cheapest expensive speaker you’ve ever booked.
Calculating ROI: Some people have been excited about calculating the ROI of meetings and conferences. It can’t be done. If a sales trainer goes into company to train 14 sales people in some new sales technique, then perhaps we could take a stab at measuring the ROI of that training investment within that company. But if we have a 90-minute keynote or breakout session at an association conference for a few hundred or several hundred people and everyone goes back to their individual businesses all across the country, how would the association measure the impact on those companies from that keynote or breakout? It’s ludicrous.
The Value of Meetings: With respect to conferences, we need to differentiate between associations and corporations. Companies exist to produce and sell goods and services, so conferences are an interruption to their mandate. If they can find a reason not to have a conference and save some money, they’ll do it. And, because it means everyone will have another weekend with their families, no one is that upset.
On the other hand, associations must have conferences. Conferences are a key part of association’s value package to their members, an opportunity for ongoing education of their members and the forum from which they push their industry’s cause or agenda with the government and decide on future initiatives.
In the good old days, our lives were divided into two separate parts: first we learned, then we worked. We were able to learn enough in the learning time to get us through the working time because things didn’t change that much. All that is out the window now. If we’re not learning while we’re working every day, we’re falling behind every day. Back in the 1970s, the sum total of knowledge on the planet was doubling about every seven years. They say that these days, knowledge doubles every 13 hours so if you have a really long sleep one night, when you wake up in the morning you’re half as smart as you were when you went to bed!
Do We Need Meetings? Working people gain more knowledge through ongoing adult education than we did during all our years in school, and most of what we learned in school isn’t true any longer. Ongoing education is one of the most important things on the planet these days, and conferences are one of the most important vehicles for providing adult education.