Business Meeting and Event Planning For Dummies
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Planning business meetings and events requires multitasking skills and ingenuity. To succeed, you need to know the basics of meeting or event planning and how to plan effectively. Then, you must hone your skills so that you can negotiate for the best venues, vendors, and speakers for your attendees.

And, if you can do all this and keep costs down — and you can! — you'll be a hit with your boss and your clients.

Planning effective business meetings and events

Always have a plan if you want your meeting or event to run smoothly! Consider the following as you make your plan:

  • Make sure meeting objectives are clear and concise.
  • Determine whether it’s necessary to meet at all, or whether you can accomplish your objectives in another way.
  • Choose the right meeting location — one with the right number, size, and shape of meeting rooms.
  • If hosting a virtual meeting, select the correct platform for the size and function of your meeting.
  • Ensure you know and understand all the services provided by the facility or virtual platform, as well as its cancellation policies.
  • Invite only the people who need to attend.
  • Gather exact contact information for everyone involved in the event.
  • Stick to the set meeting agenda.
  • Evaluate the meeting or event after it’s over.

Finding great speakers

Other than the food you serve, the program you put together is likely to be the most memorable aspect of your meeting or event. Hiring the right speaker(s) to address participants is crucial. Here are the basics to keep in mind:

  • Know the program objectives.
  • Understand audience needs.
  • Ask for references.
  • View a demo video.
  • Don’t assume that all celebrities know how to deliver an effective speech.
  • Be wary of grandiose claims.
  • Provide speakers with your expectations and the audience demographics so they give you what you want.

Negotiating your needs

One of the most important skills any planner must have is the ability to negotiate. The basic rules of negotiating are:

  • Start with a plan. Know exactly what you want.
  • Do your homework. Understand the value of your business.
  • Be methodical and meticulous. Make careful notes of everything discussed and agreed upon.
  • Use bargaining power. Have another supplier in the wings to help influence negotiations.
  • Avoid vague and confusing language.
  • Question preprinted contracts.
  • Read the fine print.
  • Insist on shared responsibility. Avoid any agreements that are one-sided.
  • Assume nothing. Ask questions, more questions, and still more questions.
  • Exercise silence. Be a champion listener.

Hiring vendors

Your success as a planner depends upon your ability to hire the right people to help you shine. How do you find them? Here are my tips:

Keep an eye out for good vendors when you attend parties and business events.

Ask trusted friends and industry colleagues for recommendations.

Ask contacts at your meeting location for a list of approved vendors.

Contact a professional association affiliated with the industry in which you need to find a vendor.

Search the Internet, and keep in mind that you need to check references for the companies you find.

Scan trade/industry publications and sites for potential resources.

Quiz the local Convention and Visitors Bureau in your destination city.

Consider using a destination management company, which could save you time, money, and aggravation by assisting with part or all of your planning.

Controlling costs

Want to make your boss happy? Know your budget before you begin planning, and stick to it! Here are some tips to help you accomplish that:

  • Avoid surprises when renting a facility or working with vendors by getting all agreements in writing.
  • Build a 10 percent contingency into your budget to accommodate unexpected expenses.
  • Check all invoices against written quotations.
  • Question all charges that don’t seem to compute.
  • Limit the number of people authorized to charge items to your master account at the facility.
  • Review hotel accounts daily to avoid major surprises on the final bill.
  • Don’t sign off on any bills until you are totally satisfied.
  • Keep an eye on hidden expenses such as overnight shipping, taxes, or overtime charges.
  • Watch out for currency conversions when planning meetings overseas.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Susan Friedmann is President of The Tradeshow Coach, which works with national and international exhibitors planning trade shows and special events.

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