Engaging Your Guests – Making Meetings Work

Jeff Hurt’s post, “From strangers to friends: Bridging attendee loneliness with conference community“,  struck a nerve. Not because of what he said, but what I saw. The post included an image of a meeting attendee sitting alone amid rows of empty chairs. Just a week ago I witnessed a similar scene.

I didn’t have to read her badge to know she was a first time guest. My new friend was sitting alone while all the regulars were engaged in conversation around her. It was my first visit with this chapter, so we both wore Guest badges. As we chatted I learned about her area of expertise, that she was a mother of 7, and learned why she choose to invest in her first visit.

The future growth of your organization will spring from the seeds planted in the minds and hearts of your guests. We all know that, talk about it, profess that it is our most important goal. But is it? Here are 3 tips to help your organization deliver on that promise.

Put on Your Guest Hat

Audiences laugh when I put on my Prospect hat from the platform. Until they start to see their business through the eyes of a prospect. Put on your Guest hat and walk through your meeting experience. Explore each of the 7 phases of your event from Save the Date to Celebrate. What do your guests see, experience, remember?

Extend From Beginning to End

Leverage the technology you already own to set high expectations from the beginning. Make sure the meeting details are included in the registration confirmation email. Schedule a reminder to arrive just before the meeting. Use social platforms, event mobile apps and live displays onsite to keep attendees calm, connected and in control. Use event reporters like Jolene Jang to surprise and delight attendees along the way.  Use post event communications to express gratitude. Never leave the next step to chance. Create auto responders to remind attendees not only why they attended, but why they should return.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Once you’re finished playing the role of guest, document the process and commit to a guest marketing strategy. Leverage your existing technology to automate whenever it makes sense. Soon you’ll have a consistent, repeatable process to make sure your guests feel both connected and committed to your organization and it’s mission.


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