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10 Steps to Successful Meetings, Seminars and Conferences

 by: Bob Pike

More often than not participants find meetings, dull dry and boring. But it doesn't have to be that way! Help your attendees maximize results by following these 10 steps:

1. Be prepared. What are your needs, general and specific? You're attending for yourself, your boss, and coworkers. What can you learn, bring back, etc. that will be of value to them?

2. Expect a successful event. The mind is like a parachute -- it only works when it's open. Attend with an open mind and learner's spirit.

3. Decide your aim. Most participants are not prepared to go to meetings. They're sent. Why are you attending? What questions do you want answered? Problems solved? What do you want to be able to do?

4. Tune into two radio stations -- WII-FM -- What's in it for me? And MMFI-AM -- Make me feel important about myself. Look for both content -- and processes that you can use after the event.

5. Develop Action Plans. During and after every session make a list of things you want to implement. Keep a master list in one place. Remember the 80/20 rule -- 80% of the value is in 20% of the content -- what is the highest value?

6. Expand your network. Who do you want to meet? How can you stay in touch with them? Networking is most often listed as the first or second most valuable thing that came out of an event. Do yours purposefully!

7. Speakers are resources. Ask questions before, during, and after sessions. Use their expertise to find resources -- and provide warnings. Do they have other materials and articles -- are they available by phone or email for brief questions?

8. Attend sessions by proxy. You can't be everywhere. Even if you're by yourself you can hook up with people, form a virtual team, attend sessions for one another and swap handouts and notes at the end of the day.

9. Make your sessions interactive. Even if the speaker lectures -- ask questions and dig to get the most you can from the session.

10. Brief stakeholders. During the conference be in touch with your boss and others to let them know what you're learning, resources you've found, and set up a post-conference debrief time.

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