Agenda for Meetings and Events

A good meeting with exciting content can be a challenge. Often, we blame the meeting planner or presenter for unexciting agendas. In truth, exciting meeting agendas may begin with the meeting planner and/or presenter, but it’s also a partnership with the conference attendees. So how do we create a meeting agenda that excite conventions, conferences, and other business events?
Walt Disney World scavenger hunt shakes up the format of meetings
Meeting agendas that excite, such as Walt Disney World scavenger hunt with TravelingMom.com retreat attendees, changes the meeting format and creates exciting content and networking. © Diana Rowe

Covert Blackberry and iPhone use, doodling on notepad, eyelids drooping, and yes, even snoring. These are the symptoms of another mind-numbing meeting. Most of us are guilty of sitting through unexciting but required meetings. Certainly some of us may even have been responsible for the planning of said uninteresting meeting agendas. So how do we create an agenda for meeting that are effective and will excite attendees at conventions, conferences, and other business events?

Creating a good meeting with exciting content can be a challenge. Often, we blame the meeting planner or presenter for unexciting agendas. In truth, event planning that creates exciting meeting agendas may begin with the meeting planner and/or presenter, but conference attendees also have an important role to play.

So how do we create an exciting meeting agendas for business events?

Review Meeting Agenda in Advance

Do your homework. Whether the meeting is mandatory or optional, the bottom line is that it is up to you, the business traveler, to make the best of your time. Review the meeting agenda. If you have an option, choose the topics that are pertinent to you, your career or your objectives. If you begin by sitting in sessions that interest you, you’re already on your way to an exciting meeting.

Shake Up the Format

Of course, we’re going to get sleepy during a 90-minute presentation. Meeting planners and presenters can help break up the monotony by incorporating shorter, motivational sessions. Ask the audience to stand up, stretch and introduce themselves to someone new.

Appeal to the right and left brain by adding a creative spin. During the break, for example, pool the resources of the on-site golf course and have a pro give putting lessons.

Take advantage of your setting. For example, I attended a recent retreat at Walt Disney World for TravelingMom.com. The objective of this meeting was for everyone to get to know each other. After a busy morning of personal development sessions, five random groups were created and we were sent off to enjoy Disney with a mission – scavenger hunt. The three-hour scavenger hunt was over before we knew it, and we all made new friends and shared lots of laughter. (Bonus: fun photo with Mickey Mouse.)

Engagement

Whether you are the planner, attendee or presenter, meeting agendas begin with engagement. Once you’ve engaged, or “bought into the conversation,” then you will discover meeting agendas that excite at conventions, conferences and other business events.

Jump-starting a healthy attitude and encouraging engagement was the first item on the agenda at a recent national sales meeting of 500 attendees in the Meadow of Terranea Resort.

According to Ron Sandvig, Terranea Resort’s vice president of sales, “After the company president welcomed everyone to the meeting, he instructed the group to take out their Blackberries, lift them to the gorgeous blue sky and shut them off. He told the group that for this meeting they needed to disconnect to reconnect, and that’s how he set the stage for a conference built on wellness and engagement as an individual and a company.”

More tips to keep focused on the speaker:

  • Make the most of breaks. Leave the meeting space, move around, and get some fresh air, if possible.
  • Dress in layers to compensate for distractions of room temperatures.
  • Prevent sleepiness by choosing healthy nutritious snacks or meals.
  • Maintain healthy habits while on the road.
  • Brainstorm themes.
  • Instead of aimless doodling, take notes. Studies show that engaging all the senses encourages learning and retaining that information.
  • Take advantage of social media (Twitter, Facebook or other forums) and share the class content with other employees or like-minded professionals (with permission of speaker, of course).
  • Participate (or start!) in discussion forums and feedback for immediate response while the session is still fresh in your mind.

What tips do you have for creating meeting agendas that excite?

Diana is a Denver-based freelance writer who has covered the business travel and meetings industry for publications and online media for more than 14 years. Prior to this, Diana organized meetings and events for groups up to 2,000 and executive programs for IT, medical and nonprofit organizations. A frequent contributor to leisure and family travel publications, you can follow more of her travels at DianaRowe.com and TravelingInHeels.com. She is a contributor to Business Travel Destinations.