A well-run meeting is a sign of a well-run organization.
Among the more visible roles Wanner Associates takes on for our association management clients is managing board meetings, professional education events and annual membership gatherings. A well-run meeting is a sign of a well-run organization. What volunteers and members don’t always realize is just how much goes into making those events memorable.
The first step is to make the event one people want to attend. Your location, venue, and outreach need to be inviting. The topics you plan to cover and speakers you invite to present need to be timely, relevant and compelling. It’s important to collaborate with specialists in your industry to make sure the content of your sessions is what your membership needs and wants. You also want to make sure you have the right presenters who are not only credible experts, but also engaging speakers.
Doing your homework upfront ensures you will have a forum people won’t want to miss. The next step is to invite your attendees and make attending your event easy.
How you invite people is important and so is the information you need to include in the invitation. Information should be exact and clear. Anticipate questions and answer them up front.
Knowing your audience will determine how the invitation is delivered. Is it printed and mailed or should you send the invitation by email? Maybe both! Then there is the question of RSVPs. Can you use an online reservation system? Our experience is that these platforms make things easy for both organizers and participants. Not only are they a fast way to gauge interest and collect payments, but they also streamline the process and can be a tremendous help with data management and financial reporting.
Once a meeting is underway, what goes on behind the scenes is critically important. Just like Disney World, there is a tremendous amount of organization and orchestration going on to make any meeting a seamless success in the eyes of the guests. There are many, many layers required to put on the production — from material gathering and distribution to attendance, nametags, menus, continuing education and certification requirements, and even keeping track of the time. You may not want your attendees to know what goes on behind the scenes, but you sure do want to make sure that you have all those details covered.
At Wanner Associates we help all kinds of organizations put on all kinds of events. In just a few weeks we will be helping a new client who has been without an executive director for two years hold its annual conference. The board has been very supportive and almost relieved that they have engaged our association management team to take the helm. They are still active and engaged, but before we got involved their volunteers were doing a lot of work on top of their paid, full-time jobs. Now they can be back in the role of policy and purpose on behalf of their organization. They are still active, connected and providing direction, but they don’t need to worry about organizing programming, contacting speakers, managing RSVPs, connecting computers and projectors, or manning an information desk handing out materials and name tags. We can’t wait to see how it turns out!
Every conference and meeting is unique. Each must be be designed and organized to serve the needs of the organization that is hosting it – and each is an opportunity to show your membership the value and purpose your organizations brings to its members and community.
The Wanner team loves to put its best foot forward on behalf of our clients by organizing annual meetings, board meetings and educational events. Contact Jen Summers at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can make your next meeting a great success.