“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” Tony Robbins
Events, conferences and meetings tend to be the lifeblood of associations, especially for our clients. As we approach the busy meetings season, many of us who are planners become so busy with the logistics of the event that we can easily lose sight of the ultimate goals and what defines success.
When planning an event, there can be a tendency to go into automatic overdrive. Planners may repeat processes that were done in the past because it’s efficient and familiar. Determining overarching goals of the conference, whether it be providing networking, education, business leads, or making a profit for the client, need to be clearly defined and understood for the entire team to execute successful outcomes. Using defined goals for each component of the event, which may change from year to year, drives decisions from selection of education formats to social/networking activities; from implementation of communication strategies to integration of technology.
Here are a few tips our meetings team uses to establish goals for client events:
- Follow a goal setting model for each clients’ event to ensure you develop strong goals to be accountable for throughout the planning process. A common model used in our industry is SMART: Create Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound goals.
- Keep your goals focused on the needs identified in your audience. These can be actual attendees, subsets of attendees, potential attendees, stakeholders, or the organization itself.
- Ensure leadership agrees with the goals as established. There will likely be less resistance to a change in process if all leaders are included from the start.
- Review your goals regularly to ensure they are being executed.
- Keep in constant communication with your organizing team on progress throughout the planning process.
- Have over-arching goals that drive the conference experience, and then set specific metrics by which achievement of the goals will be evaluated.
In summary, deciding on specific goals prior to your event will help you judge your event’s success as well as help you prioritize efforts throughout the planning process.