Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Show Me the Value - MPI Webinar

On June 10, Jamie McDonough of Fusion Productions presented his model for creating and demonstrating value in meetings. Jamie gave some tools and models that support the approach to "meeting consulting" that Pfizer presented in last week's post. Once again, here are the notes I took on the marker board in the office while listening to the webinar.

Key points for me:
  1. To be taken seriously, meeting planners need to embrace their role as business people, not logistics managers
  2. Find out what every stakeholder in your meeting wants to achieve at this meeting.
  3. Design an innovative meeting that will accomplish those goals.
  4. Measure the results and share the data.
The biggest value in this webinar was not only this framework, but also the concrete tools presented for each step of the process.

Jamie started with the question about the role of meeting planners. This debate raged in 1995 when the question of meeting ROI first reared its head. "Are we planners, or are we business people?" Then answer then and now is "business people". We manage huge events with huge budgets. Our profession is responsible for over 1 million jobs in this country. We need to be telling our CEOs about the value of meetings before they even ask. Our industry has been hammered by the AIG's and others who could not explain the value of a meeting in a 30-second sound byte. We have to tell the story of our value better.

Jamie presented his "Value Cubed" model. This three-sided model was the framework for the rest of the presentation - Moments of Truth, Value of One, and the Meeting Lifecycle.

A "Moment of Truth" is any opportunity to reinforce the brand promise of a meeting with any of the stakeholders. Look at every touch point to see how it can add greater value. Now, a lot of stakeholders hold a lot of sacred cows around these touch points. "We had two projects screens last year." Or, "I always get picked up by a limo." We have developed an impartial process to evaluate the benefits and costs of each touch point for each stakeholder. It is a huge matrix that includes often thousands of these "moments of truth". It is important to evaluate each one and decide -- rationally -- which ones should be included and excluded.

Which ones add the most value? The ones that predispose attendees to content. The ones that create memorable experiences. The ones that will give the conference life long after the closing session.

The best way to create value is to use a structured, proven process that identifies the priorities of each stakeholder and ensures that their definition of value has been met. Each stakeholder wants the meeting to deliver value to "me", and that value might look very different for different stakeholders. The five-stage process is to 1) identify the stakeholders and their needs, 2) establish measurable objectives for each need, 3) deliver an event that meets those objectives, 4) measure the results, and 5) share the results with all of your stakeholders. Jamie presented some tools and tips for each of those steps.
It is important to remember that C-level executives think differently about meetings than most planners do. They don't care very much about logistical results like attendance or incremental cost savings. They DO care about strategic results in terms of learning, customer impacts or sales results. Ask these executives up front which strategic objectives they want this meeting to impact and how. And when the meeting is over, present the results -- good, bad and indifferent -- back to them. Show them what went well. Show them what needs improvement. And show them how the results from this last meeting will help make the next meeting even better. Executives will be very unlikely to cancel or cut a meeting that is being managed in a strategic and thoughtful manner. Use tools and conversations like these to become a significant player at the executive table.

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