Meeting Planning 101

Author: Debbie Harding, Conference Sales & Services Manager

I think we’ve all been responsible for coordinating an office meeting, most likely in the adjacent boardroom with work colleagues.  We’re pretty comfortable with an agenda, inviting attendees (usually electronically) and even assigning responsibility for minutes.

Things start getting complicated when we’re responsible for organizing a larger meeting, workshop, or conference.  Perhaps outside stakeholders are invited or a speaker is invited to present at the meeting.  We must organize breaks, lunch, maybe a reception, and most importantly the agenda. Now we’re talking!

Where to begin!  Sometimes just the thought of all the details can be overwhelming.  There are some initial questions that will help get you started in the right direction.

1.      Who is the target audience? What topics are important to the audience? Are there industry questions that should be addressed, trends that are affecting your business, or do you have something important to share with stakeholders?

2.      What is the intention of the meeting or workshop? What do you want participants to leave with?  Drilling this down to the most important factor will keep you focused on what is important. There can be several topics, but at the end of the day, are they cohesive in getting the overall message across?

3.      How do you deliver the information you want your audience to have?  Are there experts within the ranks that can present valuable information?  Would it be advantageous to bring in speakers? Does your budget allow for such an expense?

4.      One word, budget!  What is your budget?  Will you be hosting this event from an internal organizational budget? Will you be charging guests to supplement your budget? Are there sponsors?  Sometimes you don’t know what the budget is, because you don’t know the costs.  Research, make phone calls, ask questions.  Like our conference services staff, there are people who can help you with creating a budget.

5.      Location and timing.  This is critical in your decision making process.  There are several things to consider:

  • What venue makes sense in terms of size and seating, technology, central location to your guests, unique or standard venue, and always, cost?  Ask about policy, contracts, cancellations, payments, every venue has their own important policies you should be aware of!
  • Timing is critical.  Make sure you are not overlapping important deadlines for your industry.  You wouldn’t want to organize a Tax Conference for tax professionals for the weekend of April 6th!  Book your venue well in advance to make sure your dates are solid. It’s not fun having to communicate new dates to guests!
  • Does the venue offer professional catering services?  Will you need to arrange food service on your own? You don’t want to be in the thick of things during the meeting and worrying about picking up food for you guests!

These questions may intimidate you a little bit, but having answered these questions you are building the foundation for your important meeting, workshop or conference.

For professional meeting planning and logistical coordination, contact UBC Conferences & Accommodation services at any time!

Debbie Harding, Conference Sales & Services Manager

UBC Conferences and Accommodations

E:; T: 250-807-9358

Leave a Reply