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In this issue of Speak Previews®, ECG's Managing Director of Corporate Events, Fabio Sembiante discusses the ways in which an organization's meeting or event is itself a form of communication.

PERSUASIVE SUCCESS OF "WORKING" MEETINGS

Communication specialists sometimes say that form masquerades as content. While such a masquerade is not always a good thing, in meeting management it decidedly is. With competence and knowledge, a meeting planner constructs the form of a meeting to create a message whose content is strong and focused.

ECG's meeting management team believes firmly that a meeting or event is part of an organization's communication strategy. That strategy is executed in part by showing concern for the comfort, ease, and convenience of attendees and in part by overseeing the details that reinforce corporate or team culture and values. When an organization takes good care, an attendee feels connected, respected, and valued. Those feelings pave the way for his or her acceptance of and participation in the goals of the meeting.

In that sense - and perhaps in all others - every gathering has a persuasive purpose.

MAKING "WORKING" MEETINGS WORK

Working meetings are usually not an occasion for lavishing team members with late-night dinners and a variety of entertainment options. Yet they still need great care and perhaps more care in planning due to the many business dynamics that take place within a company/team or the variety and number of deliverables attendees have been tasked with producing.

Whether it's an Advisory Board, FDA Advisory Committee mock panel, or an internal budget meeting, employees and invited guests have specific tasks to accomplish within a set time frame. They must be ready to provide and receive information, to make decisions based on that information, to design solutions to issues, to remain flexible, to be creative and innovative.

Successful meeting management facilitates those accomplishments.

ENABLING PRODUCTIVITY

One way to facilitate accomplishment requires reliable, comprehensive IT support.

While in-house IT specialists are experts in their particular environment, they may not be accustomed to an off-campus world of inhospitable and unreliable IT connectivity. And although venues may offer internet service, their charge for doing so may be thousands of dollars a day. Their support personnel may be simultaneously handling a half-dozen meetings, a workload that creates delays and inefficiencies.

A more effective solution is to secure IT support from your meeting management company. Service then is dedicated to your event and tailored to its needs, adding greater value for lower cost.

REDUCING STRESS AND DISTRACTION

Another way to facilitate accomplishment is by realizing that being away can cause stress additional to that of the meeting's objectives. Participants in an offsite meeting must still respond to and cope with the ordinary needs and demands of home, family, and office. The meeting planner's goal, then, is not only to remove the impediments that impact negatively on performance but to create the ambiance in which success can occur.

Achieving that ambiance requires careful selection of an appropriate venue, one whose location, service, and amenities provide a comfortable and responsive environment in which attendees can do their best work. In addition, prior coordination of lodging preferences or food and beverage requirements for individual participants removes a major worry and potential distraction. On a global level, obtaining appropriate meeting rooms for the event is essential; room size and projected layout must be conducive to the meeting/event objectives.

Maintaining such a favorable working environment also requires the onsite presence of meeting management services staff members. They can take care of emerging hospitality, equipment, and travel needs onsite with minimal delay, helping attendees remain focused and productive throughout the meeting.

Successful events are indeed persuasive. By showing its concern for the comfort and satisfaction of the attending group, the organization is telling group members that it is proud of their association, that it is invested in them, that they and their contributions matter.

That's a clear message, one that attendees take not only to heart and mind but to action.