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4 Massive Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Next Meeting

4 Massive Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Next Meeting

Meetings, events and conferences are part of your everyday professional life. While most individuals would agree they are necessary, some would question if they are truly valuable and productive.

As a meeting professional myself, I believe part of my role is to make certain the events I plan are functional and educational; from peer reviews to training seminars and everything in between.

Here are four massive mistakes many meeting organizers make; along with concrete ways to avoid them all together.

Mistake #1: You have no clear purpose.

Last week I was chatting with a friend of mine who is chair of her organization’s 20th gala. She was complaining about the lack of attendees and sponsors, so when I asked her why she was holding it, she stated because they have always held this event on the second Saturday in May. When I asked her why once more, she confessed that the original purpose has been met and she really wasn’t sure.

Not knowing why you are holding your conference or event is exactly why you should cancel or rethink it. Pinpoint your goals and objectives and gain concurrence from your stakeholders. Once those are established, make certain to measure your metrics. An easy way to do so is via audience response apps on mobile devices which will take a reading on attendee satisfaction levels.

Mistake #2: You invite the wrong people.

Once your purpose is established, you need to focus on your invitation list. According to Lorraine Stomski, Partner at Aon Hewitt, you need to ask three questions of potential attendees:

  • Will they add value?
  • Do they know and want to know more about the meeting’s subject matter?
  • Are you inviting too many people from the same department or company when one attendee would do?


I would add the following two questions to Lorraine’s assessment:

  • Are they the decision makers? Can they make things happen?
  • Are they required to be trained about this matter as a course of completing their job?

Once you identify and invite the right attendees, the energy in your meeting will go up in a positive way. Your meeting will have a purpose and so will the people there.

Mistake #3: You schedule your event at the wrong time, date or season.

Many times meetings and events are unsuccessful because they conflict with other professional events or they are scheduled on the busiest day of the week for your attendees. In addition, depending on where the meeting is held, winter can cause its own set of problems from airline delays and cancelations to treacherous driving conditions.

Ask your attendees when they want the meeting. This gesture of goodwill empowers them because it makes them feel like you care. How do you ask 100 people when they want to meet? Through online crowdsourcing or survey apps, of course!

Get the right time, date and season and your meeting has a shot of being a true success.

Mistake #4: You don’t stick to the time parameters.

Not valuing people’s time is a big faux pas and can cause attendees to be more reluctant to attend your meetings in the future. Start and end your meetings on time and attendees will come and respect you for respecting them. If you have trouble keeping time, set an alarm on your phone or ask someone to keep time at the back of the room.

In addition, remember your participant’s opportunity cost. For every hour they are sitting in your meeting or conference that is an hour they could have been returning emails, phone calls and closing business.

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