The Pros And Cons Of Virtual Meetings

Organizations these days are becoming multinational; some are becoming multisite; and with better Internet capabilities, some are becoming multi-coffee-shop.

Having multiple sites has lead to meetings being conducted virtually.  And the best thing about that is the technology has caught up as well.

Why would you have a virtual meeting?

  1. Different locations.  The great part is you don’t have to leave that coffee shop to meet with your co-workers.
  2. Stay connected to co-workers.  Meetings can be painful; but, with all these locations, staying connected to the work that needs to be done is necessary.  Virtual meetings can solve that.
  3. Get more work done.  The inverse is true of the above point as well.  Virtual meetings make you stay on point which helps you stay focused on getting more work done.

While all of these points are nice, there are a couple of downsides to virtual meetings.

  1.  With a virtual meeting, attendees can get distracted.  This holds true with any meeting, but it’s easy to type an email or finish some blog reading during a virtual meeting because on camera it just looks like you’re “taking notes.”
  2. Lack of creative energy.  There is just something about a full team being all together in one room that spurs creativity.  The creativity generated in a virtual setting can be different than when you are seeing everybody face-to-face.

We’ve talked about pros and cons with virtual meetings.  Now, let’s talk about the technology that is available for these.  I love Apple, but their FaceTime app on any Mac only allows for a conversation with one person…and the other person has to have an Apple product.  If you have those two variables, I think it’s better than the other apps we’ll discuss.

Skype is great for big meetings.  It’s a trusted technology that is free (unless you’re calling internationally) and works across Mac and Windows platforms.

GoToMeeting.com is a very robust system and is great for larger groups.  The biggest difference between these and the apps listed above is that there is a cost.  But remember that old adage: you get what you pay for.

When your organization does virtual meetings, what do you use?  How has it worked for your team?

Christian Meeting Planning Resources – November Update

Here are some great articles we’ve read in November, I hope you find something useful as your making plans for your upcoming meetings and events.

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more that might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

 

Christian Meeting Planning Resources – October Update

Here is what we’ve added in October by category

Marketing/Promotion

Site Selection

Retreats/Meetings

Meeting Planners

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

Do I Need An Event App and Printable Information?

A few days ago, we posted an article on the pros and cons of having an app for your event. The only con stated was that some people (about half of Americans) don’t have smartphones, so, in result, printed out packets (or downloadable PDFs) are still a necessity. And, if the app freezes, the server goes down, or someone’s phone simply dies on their way to the conference, paper would be desired as well. Will there be any differences between the packets and the app?

First of all, everyone understands that phone apps will have more features than a few pieces of paper. Event phone apps offer multiple different details, such as electronic ways to connect with people (such as message boards and even emailing options), surveys to help the planner, and possibly links to other related sites. Printable itineraries wouldn’t have this information.

But, the printed packets, schedules, booklets, etc, should have most of the same information as the app. Event and company information, conference center information, directions, speaker and activity schedule, local transportation contact information, activities and restaurants in the area, conference and meal information, and even city news and facts should all be in the app as well as in a printable version online. Some people will rarely look at this information, but some people will live off of it for the whole weekend.

Should you offer any of this information already printed for your guests, or should they print it at home? My suggestion is to have schedules printed for your guests, but that’s it. Most people will bring a computer and many venues have a printing station, so your guests can print whatever information they want so you don’t waste time and paper.

Still confused about what to put on your website versus on the app…or on both? Poll your potential attendees to see what facts are most important to them. Your attendees happiness is a main goal of your event, so listen to their ideas.

 

The Pros And Cons Of An Event App

Having an event app could be great…for people who have smartphones. About 50% of Americans currently own smartphones, and more people own smartphones than any other type of cell phone. Most event planners (and app creator) use this as a reason to create an app. But, what’s the point of having one? Here are some pros and cons of offering this option for your next conference.

Pro: Convenient for Attendees. If your event has a phone app, attendees will be able to have all the necessary event information at their fingertips at all times. They won’t have to shuffle around 20 pieces of paper to see which building your event is in or what time their favorite speaker starts, either.

Pro: Convenient for You. Having a phone app lets you change and add information in a snap. If you offer printed information, it would be much harder, more time consuming, and more expensive to remake ever brochure or packet when a new speaker is added to the schedule, or you realized you put the wrong venue address.

Pro: Engaging. You can also use an event app to connect with your guests and help them connect with each other. Most include stats, games, surveys, an activity feed, and chat or message features so you can learn more about your attendees and they can learn more about each other.

Pro: Real Time Updates. Not only is this more convenient for you as the planner, but your attendees will love the automatic, real time updates about changes in times and places, and exciting news.

Pro: Green… With an app, all event information is in your attendees’ pockets (or purses) without the use of any paper. This means there is less paper being ordered and printed, which keeps your event a bit greener.

Con: What About People Without Smartphones? According to the statistic stated before, about 50% of Americans don’t have smartphones. So, depending on the age demographic of your event, there could be quite a few people who don’t have them. If you do create an app, just make sure you provide the the necessary information online in a printable format for those who are unable to download it (and print it themselves).

Have you ever used an event app, what do you think?

Don’t “Take It to the Limit”, Maintain Margin!

Like the margins in a book provide space between the words and the page limits, maintaining margin as you plan and execute an event will provide a buffer to absorb challenges and issues prior to reaching the limits of your event and you!  Consider the following areas in which having margin can make a tremendous difference in the success of your event:

  • Time (Attendees’): Before finalizing the schedule for your event (onsite registration, large sessions, breakout meetings, meal-times, breaks, etc.), review it to ensure your schedule includes some margin.  What if a speaker runs over his allotted time?  What if a catered meal takes longer than expected?  What if there are audiovisual difficulties?  You want to offer your attendees the best experience possible, but keep in mind this includes providing opportunities to network with other attendees, take breaks to refresh their minds and reflect on what they’ve experienced, and not feel rushed throughout the event.
  • Time (Yours): What about your schedule during the event?  Even when things run smoothly it’s likely you’ll be quite busy during the event as you meet with attendees, communicate with the host staff, take care of your speakers, and handle the myriad of scenarios which come along with serving as an event planner.  Consider holding blocks of time on your schedule when you schedule nothing.  Doing so will provide sufficient time to take care of unexpected issues that arise as well as allowing you valuable moments to re-charge your batteries so you can lead your event more effectively.
  • Emotional: Prior to traveling to Africa to pick up the two children we adopted in 2010, my wife and I spent almost two months in a hospital several states away from our home as one of our other children dealt with some health issues.  Suffice to say, by the time we left for Africa we were spent, both emotionally and physically.  While not always possible, taking time to get away and recharge before an event occurs can help an event planner tremendously.
  • Physical: Rest well and eat well, both before and during the event.  Any event planner knows this isn’t always easy, but doing so will provide you with the physical margin you need to be at your best.
  • Financial: Margin is one financial measure of an event’s success.  In simple terms, it’s found by dividing an event’s profit by its revenue.   For example, an event with $10,000 in revenue and $3,500 in profit has a margin of 35%.  Careful budget planning can help ensure you’ll have the funds needed to cover planned expenses as well as those that pop up unexpectedly.  Planning your cash flow will help ensure you have the funds when you need them.
  • Spiritual: As in so many other ways, Jesus Himself served as a model for us in the area of margin by living in such a way that He always had time for what mattered most, the divine appointments with people that came His way each day.  Unfortunately, these unexpected meetings can often seem more like annoyances to a meeting planner low on margin.

If the idea of having margin appeals to you, consider the following resources which have been a great benefit to me in this area:

  • Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.: This book is one of the most helpful I’ve ever read (on any topic).
  • Take It to the Limit by Andy Stanley: This six-part sermon series can be found online by searching for North Point Community Church.

Both of these resources will challenge you to live with margin and provide practical ways to help you do so.  Both you and those attending your event will benefit!

Top 10 Posts – 3rd Quarter 2012

Fall is here and I for one can’t wait for the changing leaves and cooler temperatures.   This means the 3rd quarter is behind us and it’s time to share our 10 most read posts over the past 3 months. Hopefully this will help you find a great post you might have missed…

  1. What’s A Hollow Square – As in any industry, hotels and conference centers sometimes have a language all their own. Here’s a little help in translating…
  2. Ridgecrest Recipe:  Rutland Chicken – Have you been looking for something new to do with chicken?  Enjoy and then let us know what you think!
  3. 5 Things To Do AFTER Your Meeting Is Over – Everyone has gone home and you want to relax but here are a few things that still need to be done and will definitely help you in planning future meetings and/or retreats.
  4. 8 Ideas For Promoting Your Church Retreat –  If you don’t also spend time on strategically promoting your retreat, you may end up with a great retreat that no one attends. With that in mind, here are 8 ideas for helping to promote your upcoming church retreat.
  5. 3 Steps To More Productive Brainstorming – Brainstorming with your planning team is a great way to ensure you provide an event your attendees will find engaging and worthwhile.  Here are 3 steps to take that will go a long way to making your next session more productive.
  6. 3 Tips To Creating An Unforgettable Event – Here are 3 tips on how to turn your event into an unforgettable experience.
  7. Creating A Standout Womens Retreat – A podcast interview with Chris Adams and Betsy Langmade, 2 of LifeWay’s long-time women’s leaders sharing what they’ve learned about planning women’s events.
  8. 5 Tips For Programming Effective Youth Camps – Brian Mills serves as student pastor Long Hollow Baptist Church and is passionate about reaching young people for Christ. Here are his thoughts on how to program your youth camp for maximum spiritual impact.
  9. 7 Tips For Getting The Most From A Site Visit – Once you decide to make a site visit, here are 7 tips to help you maximize your time.
  10. Meeting Planner Survival Kit – Many planners need to be prepared to address last minute needs and emergencies. Here is a starter list of items you need to have in your meeting planner survival kit to be prepared at your next event.

Which post have you found most helpful?

 

Christian Meeting Planning Resources – September Update

Here is what we’ve added in September by category

Marketing/Promotion

Did you know you could livestream your event on Twitter? Me neither. http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/twitter/livestream-event

20 simple ways to measure event marketing success. http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/marketing/measure

A few tips on planning your event…before you start marketing. http://www.markjcarter.com/2012/03/event-planning-before-marketing/#more-610

Blog writing extraordinaires give their secret tips in this post. http://thinktraffic.net/traffic-building-tips

Retreats/Meetings

How to create networking without actually networking. http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/guest-post/conference-networking
 Need decor ideas for your event? Did you ever think about decorating the ceiling? http://www.bizbash.com/6-eye-catching-ceiling-decor-ideas/gallery/87765
Slightly over the top but 100% eye-catching decorating ideas for any fancy get together http://www.bizbash.com/25-best-ideas-from-social-events/gallery/85110

Meeting Planners

What to do before and during a video conference? http://www.persuasive-speechesnow.com/virtual-meeting.html

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

Christian Meeting Planning Resources – August Update

Here is what we’ve added in August by category

Marketing/Promotion

Don’t ever blend in…especially when marketing and selling! http://www.ready2spark.com/2012/02/brand-differentiation.html

How to really, really build your brand http://www.ready2spark.com/2012/02/how-to-build-a-manifesto.html

Don’t make these social media mistakes! http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/tips/event-mistakes

5 more tips on how to plan and market your event (or party) http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/5-tips-for-small-business-event-planning.htm

Who doesn’t want their event to go viral? http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/concepts/10-elements-events-viral

Site Selection

A dozen fun retreat (and camping) ideas for the whole family http://bradzockoll.tripod.com/youthworker/id7.html

Retreats/Meetings

Awesome season based event ideas for any retreat, meeting, event, or the like! http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/5-fun-seasonal-event-ideas.htm

What are 4 different types of retreats? http://www.sugarhollowretreat.com/4-examples-spiritual-retreats

Budget/Cost Savings

How to save some retreat planning money in 8 simple steps http://www.articlesbase.com/christianity-articles/christian-retreat-planning-on-a-budget-1982758.html

Read these 49 tips to save money before planning your next meeting or conference http://meetingsnet.com/costsaving_budget/save-money-planning-meetings-0621/

How to hire and train conference and retreat volunteers. http://www.samhsa.gov/fbci/Volunteer_handbook.pdf

Meeting Planners

What planners can learn from the 2012 olympics http://www.busyevent.com/blog/?p=656

In depth and extremely helpful look on how to plan a retreat. http://bible.org/article/retreats-first-things-first

15 exceptionally useful websites to help plan an event. http://www.eventeducation.com/top-event-planning-tools.php

 

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

 

6 Ways To Choose A Conference Center For Your Retreat

Every little aspect of a retreat is important, from how many people attend, what age group they fit into, what activities are presented, and the overall purpose of the retreat. One other aspect that is equally as important is where you’re going to have the event. Sure, if you’ve read past posts, we talk about how awesome Christian conference centers are, but wait…how do you choose one? There are dozens and dozens and it’s not easy to choose! Here are 6 tips to (hopefully) make it much more simple.

1. Physical Location – If you’re planning a one-day retreat, it’d obviously be best to choose a place close to the homes of everyone invited (maybe in the same city or a geographically close city to where your church or group is). If it’s a bigger retreat where many people from all over the country are invited, think of weather concerns and…well…read the rest of this post to get more ideas.

2. Activities – What activities do you want to engage in? Do you know conference center or two that offers those? These activities can be fun daytime or nighttime activities to relax and get away from everyday stress and worry, or they can be the actual purpose of the retreat (if you’re going to volunteer or the like). Either way, if you know what activities are important for the retreat, you can plan around that.

3. Money – Don’t overspend when choosing a center. Always stay under your budget. Trust me. You will be overspending on other things like food and random material items you forgot to plan into your budget. End of story.

4. Personal Interest and Spiritual Fit – This one might seem obvious. If you are having a retreat for a certain denomination of church, then make sure your Christian conference center abides by the same rules you and your church abide by. If it’s a non-denominational retreat, think of the personal interests of you and your attendees. If you’re from a certain town that eats meat for three meals a day, make sure you don’t go to a strict no-meat-serving center. Or, if you don’t want any denomination presented at all, make sure you go to a center that doesn’t (obviously) promote their denomination at every corner.

5. Testimonials and reviews – Have you heard rave reviews about any conference centers? Or, have you heard negative rants about any? Keep these in mind when planning. Listen to your friends, coworkers, and any other brothers and sisters of Christ for suggestions. Also, look for reviews and testimonials on the conference center’s website, as well as any other review sites through a search engine (like Google). Keep in mind what the reviews say, though. If one person says it was too hot outside, or that they wish a certain amenity was offered that you don’t care about, then those are not reviews to pay attention to.

6. Overall “vibe” – There’s a good chance that, at the end of the day, you’re stuck between two or three venues. Did you visit all of them? If economically and geographically possible, I would suggest you do that. If you can’t, talk to a few people there. Look at their website’s pictures. Consider each (legitimate) review you read. Is one standing out more than the others? Pray about this and listen to God. This retreat will change people’s lives, and you want to plan it as perfectly as you can. God will be there every step of the way, so feel His presence and listen to His Word. If the “vibe” feels off, then move onto the next place.

What do you think?