“Give me six hours to cut down a tree, and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
The metaphor is clear … proper preparation results in an easier process and an improved chance for successful outcomes.
But when it comes to creating attendee value for corporate meetings, content owners often miss an important source of input … the tree.
At the conclusion of most large meetings, attendees routinely complete an internal survey that asks what worked, what didn’t, etc.
This survey often includes a question asking attendees what they would like to see next year, or, specifically, which components of THIS year’s meeting would they like to see repeated. This helps plan for the future.
However … things change. Personnel, the market; company goals, etc. What worked last year may be terrifically off-point this year.
The result is often this; when the next large meeting rolls around, meeting content owners put their heads together to plan, but rarely consult their target audience and ask what they want or need.
I was reminded of this when planning New Year’s Day with my family. My children had recently become young adults with lives and minds of their own. I was sitting with my wife and we were wracking our brains about what to do that would be fun, interesting, etc. If you’re a parent, you get it. However, we failed to recognize the most valuable source of information … our actual children.
So, we asked them … “What would you like to do?” I won’t detail their answer, but I will say that it was nowhere near what we had been planning. Their answers surprised us, and gave us a deeper understanding of their current wants and needs. Nothing like going straight to the source for relevant, actionable information.
The same is true of your meeting attendees. You may think you know what they want or need to do at your upcoming meeting … but in reality, you may only know part of the story.
An added benefit is that your attendees experience greater ownership of the meeting, and invest themselves more deeply. After all, they were the primary drivers of it.
So remember, if you’re a meeting content owner, or if you’re the one directing the meeting content owners, ask the tree what it needs.
You may be surprised by its answer.