You work hard enough to win your meeting and conference business, so it makes sense to leave a positive lasting impression and an incentive for them to return. A lot of effort goes into first impressions, but what sort of lasting impression are you leaving on your meeting and conference delegates?
In my line of work I see a lot of meeting and conference venues, sometimes as a mentor, but frequently also as the client or a delegate. Normally the first impression is alright, you get a warm welcome and asked at the outset if everything is okay. But it’s what happens after this that invariably leaves you let down
- If using a projector, are there sufficient sockets for a laptop, and can these be easily reached without the presenter tripping on a lead and breaking their neck?
- Has the presenter been included in the delegate numbers and been provided with a chair, glass and water, or does the venue really expect them to stand for eight hours? (At two venues only last week I was not given a chair for an all day workshop.)
- Check the size of the table needed for the presenter; if they have notes and handout materials have you provided them with a table that is big enough to put down their notes and props, or it is taken over by the projector?
- Is the projector lined up properly screen (and in focus), or is it so close to the screen that the image only fills a quarter of the space available, and worse still, not angled upwards so the image only shows on the bottom third of the screen.
- If they’ve requested flip charts is there a supply of fresh paper, and do all the pens work okay and not dried out. Test them at the end of every meeting and discard those that have passed their best.
- Consider also the positioning of tables and chairs. I frequently find that the presenter is positioned so far away from the rest of the participants that it would be necessary to shout to hear! When a cabaret set up is used factor in the length of the meeting; if it is an all-day meeting and delegates are required to face the front, ensure that they can do so without having to keep turning round and straining their necks.
- Having refreshments turn up on time is critical to the smooth running of any event. Just five minutes late when you have only scheduled a 10 minute break can have a serious impact on the timetable. And this means everything being on time; clean cups, fresh milk, plenty of teabags, etc etc. I know this sounds obvious but you’ll be amazed how often the milk runs out, or everyone favours a particular flavour of tea.
- Avoid bottle necks at the coffee station: Arrange flasks so you don’t get congestion all around one spot. Clearly label which pot or flask is tea and which is coffee and which is hot water. Is there somewhere to dispose of tea bags once tea is brewed? If you have more sophisticated coffee machines do ensure they can keep pace with demand. A machine that takes just 20 seconds to brew and dispense a cup of coffee can only accommodate 30 people in a 10 minute period, so certainly won’t be suitable for a meeting with 50 delegates.
- Lunch: A simple label on buffet food so delegates know what they are eating (and cut down on wastage). And ensure lunch is cleared away promptly at the end of their break.
- Watch for trends. If your delegates get through more still water than sparkling (which in my experience is usually the case) match what you provide in your set up to meet the demand. Likewise for other beverages. It not only keeps your delegates happy, but saves on wastage too.
- Check the room temperature, and be responsive to organisers’ requests to adjust this. The bane of my life is air conditioning. Invariably it blows too hot or too cold. Half the time I question whether it’s adds anything, particularly in a room where the windows open, but there are times when it’s needed. But nobody wants to be sat right beneath a blast of cold air, and adjusting it to suit everyone’s requirements is a fine line.
- Everyone wants to get off as quickly as possible, so just a few minutes of your time to help with the packing up and to get the organiser on their way just a couple of minutes earlier would always be welcome. And provides the perfect opportunity to gather that all important feedback.
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