Coordinating a remarkable meeting, event, retreat

I believe that we get more done in less time when we invite other folks to the party. More people = more brains in the room . . . and with the right mix of people and the right meeting format, AMAZINGLY magical results ensue.
My observations are:
1. Most people hate meetings and think of them as a waste of time
2, The meeting organizers usually put WAY more effort into the coordination of the meeting than is really necessary.
so . . .
If you’re in charge of coordinating the meeting, what can you do to make it a desirable event for the right people to attend?
How can you accomplish this without making it a full time job?
This CAN be done . . . simple as pie . . . 4 easy steps
1. Develop a compelling THEME for the meeting. What is the meeting going to accomplish and how can the participants personally and collectively benefit? Many meetings happen because someone put them on the calendar , , , and the “herd” is expected to show up and spend the time because . . .
Remarkable meetings occur when the Theme of the meeting invokes enough Passion among the attendees to inspire them to TAKE ACTION!
2. Invite people!
Notice I didn’t say diddly about the “right people” . . . In other words, don’t get all bent out of shape WHO you invite, just invite EVERYONE . . . and know that those who show up will be the right people . . . the ones who feel a connection to the theme. This takes a lot of pressure off you as organizer worrying about how many people to invite. Just cap it at however many people the meeting space can accommodate.
3. Prepare the space!
Create a meeting environment that looks as different as possible from an elementary classroom arrangement. Chairs in a row tend to stifle creativity. We like to use the circle . . . arranging the seats in the circle so the participants can make eye contact with each other and engage fully.
Circles invite open communication. Have you ever heard of a “Square of Friends”?
Offer food for grazing . . . not too heavy and readily available throughout the meeting . . .
4. Opening and holding the space
Don’t get stuck in PowerPoint Presentations . . . A short opening thanking the folks for showing up . . . quick reminder of theme and statement of the significance of the theme . . . get any preliminary information out there . . . ask the participants what specific topics relating to the theme brought them there . . . Create a list on a flipchart . . . and
Make it clear at the beginning of the event that:
– EXACTLY the right people are in the room – completely equipped to handle the theme.
– Creativity will flow when the time is right – whenever it starts is the right time.
– Whatever happens is the only thing that could have – All participants should have open minds and leave personal agendas outside.
– when it’s over, it’s over – Acknowledge the “end” of the useful time together whenever that comes . . . If it’s a half hour before the stated end time of the meeting, MOVE ON!
and finally . . . Issue the “Law of Two Feet” – If at any time, you feel like you are neither contributing nor receiving anything of value, then it is your personal responsibility to use your 2 feet to take yourself to a place where you CAN contribute and receive.  
these principles apply to meetings of all shapes and sizes . . . even large scale conventions and take most of the guess-work and anxiety away from the organizers/hosts . . . They invite the participants to “Self-organize” and charge each person with responsibility for personally getting the most out the meeting.
I’m practicing this . . . Opening space for the entire real estate industry in Nashville with weekly “Lunch & Learns” . . . I have vendors stepping up to name their passion – state their topic – and choose location and time . . . We invite REALTORS and any supporting vendors (Lenders, Title Companies etc) . . . the Theme is “Building relationships to stimulate Nashville’s real estate market” . . . It’s working quite well . . . and we typically have 20 participants at every meeting.
My bottom line: the less complex you make this process of organizing an event, the more probability of high success you’ll likely have. Participants show up and engage fully when they are fueled by passion (their own) and not treated like cattle.
I’m just sayin’
PS – Below is an hilarious example of the invitation and micromanagement of meeting (party) planning run amok.

Company Memo
FROM:    Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO:         All Employees
DATE:    October 1, 2009
RE:       Gala Christmas Party
I’m happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House.
There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks!  We’ll have a small band playing traditional carols… feel free to sing along.  And don’t be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus!
A Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00 PM.  Exchanges of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone’s pockets.
This gathering is only for employees!
Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time!
Merry Christmas to you and your family,

Company Memo
FROM:    Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO:         All Employees
DATE:    October 2, 2009
RE:       Gala Holiday Party
In no way was yesterday’s memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees.  We recognize that  Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year.
However, from now on,  we’re calling it our “Holiday Party.”  The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians and to those still celebrating Reconciliation Day.
There will be no Christmas tree and no Christmas carols will be sung.
We will have other types of music for your enjoyment.
Happy now?
Happy Holidays to you and your family,

 Company Memo
FROM:   Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO:        All Employees
DATE:   October 3, 2009
RE:         Holiday Party
Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table, you didn’t sign your name..
I’m happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that  reads, “AA Only”, you wouldn’t be anonymous anymore.  How am I supposed to handle this?
And sorry, but forget about the gift exchange, no gifts are allowed since the union members feel that $10.00 is too much money and the executives believe $10.00 is a little chintzy.

 Company Memo
FROM:  Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
To:        All Employees
DATE:   October 4, 2009
RE:        Generic Holiday Party
What a diverse group we are!  I had no idea that December 20th begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours.
There goes the party!  Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees’ beliefs.  Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party or else package everything for you to take it home in little foil doggy baggy.  Will that work?
Meanwhile, I’ve arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get the table closest to the rest rooms.
Gays are allowed to sit with each other.  Lesbians do not have to sit with Gay men, each group will have their own table.
Yes, there will be flower arrangement for the Gay men’s table.
To the person asking permission to cross dress, the Grill House asks that no cross dressing be allowed, apparently because of concerns about confusion in the rest rooms.  Sorry.
We will have booster seats for short people.
Low fat food will be available for those on a diet.
I am sorry to report that we cannot control the amount of salt used in the food .  The Grill House suggests that people with high blood pressure taste a bite first.
There will be fresh “low sugar” fruits as dessert for diabetics, but the restaurant cannot supply “no sugar” desserts. Sorry!
Did I miss anything?!?!?

Company Memo
FROM:   Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO:         All F*%^ing Employees
DATE:    October  5, 2009
RE:         The F*%^ing Holiday Party
I’ve had it with you vegetarian pricks!!!  We’re going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the “grill of death,” as you so quaintly put it, and you’ll get your f*%^ing salad bar, including organic tomatoes.
But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too.  They scream when you slice them.  I’ve heard them scream.  I’m hearing them scream right NOW!
The rest of you f*%^ing weirdoes can kiss my *ss.  I hope you all have a rotten holiday!
Drive drunk and die,
The B*tch from H*ll!!!

 Company Memo
FROM:  Joan Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director
DATE:   October  6, 2009
RE:       Patty Lewis and Holiday Party
I’m sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery from her recent nervous breakdown and I’ll continue to forward your cards to her at the asylum.
In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay.
Happy Whatever!


Published by Barry Owen

Residential Real Estate sales Strategist Search - Analysis - Negotiation - CLOSED Inviter-Facilitator-Practicer of Open Space Technology Opening safe space for people & organizations to self-organize around issues & opportunities Invite-Listen-Love

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