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8 Ways to Wow Meeting Attendees

Win the hearts and minds of your conference guests with these insider tips

Ignite Magazine polled some highly creative meeting planners for their thoughts on how to organize events that engage and inspire attendees. The common thread? Make every element count, from big picture meeting event planning to finishing touches.

By Sherryll Sobie

1. Personalize the experience.
"When delegates select workshops in advance, prepare a personalized insert for their badge. The insert should list selected workshops by name, time and location," says Heidi Wilker, CMP, Blessed Events, Brampton, Ont.

2. No one forgets a thank you.
"Follow up directly after the meeting with a personal thank you that includes a mention of several meeting highlights and/or learning outcomes," says Cass Bayley, CMP, CMM, The Bayley Group, Hensall, Ont.

3. Ease the awkwardness.
"Have a unique icebreaker to help new delegates meet returning delegates such as a first-time attendees reception, colour-coded nametags, or a mentor program," says Bayley.

4. Walk in their shoes.
"Before your event material is finalized, take some time to slow down and picture yourself as the delegate. Read the conference registration materials: is there something in each timeslot for every target audience type? Does the confirmation package have what a delegate needs to arrive and navigate stress-free? Walk through your event venue to find the best spots for signage and where to place volunteer helpers," says Karen Elliott, CMP, ProPlanners, Richmond Hill, Ont.

5. Let them explore.
"Give delegates the opportunity to experience local cuisine, culture and shops," says Claire Bélanger-Parker, CNT Management Group Inc./Groupe Gestion CNT Inc., Regina, Sask.

6. Watch their backs.
Create a security net for your group's privacy and free exchange of ideas. "Is the venue's security in-house or on contract? An employed security team has the benefit of routine and clear knowledge of who should be where and when," says Ellen Boddington, CMP, Stellar Conference & Event Management Inc.,Toronto.

7.Help them be green.
"Pick a green meeting or event location that is closest to attendees. It is typically cheaper, especially with rising fuel costs. On-the-go business professionals appreciate not having to spend valuable time in transit, and let them know it is helping the planet," says Shawna McKinley, project manager, Meeting Strategies Worldwide, Vancouver, B.C.

8. Give them a voice.
"Make the process engaging by giving attendees time and space to contribute their own ideas and insights," says Patti Gera, business development manager, planning & design leader, Verve2, Saskatoon, Sask.

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