For attendees, upcoming meetings can either feel like an obligation or an opportunity. To move your meeting into the “opportunity” column, try to create a sense of anticipation beforehand. Employing just a few simple and inexpensive tricks will get your group raring to go.
Try these tips:
Gauge the Audience - Send out a survey that asks what the attendees want to learn. Their responses will not only help craft the content, but you’ll give the attendees a stake in the meeting – making it something they want instead of something their boss thinks they need.
Timeframe: At least 3 months before the meeting.
Host a Twitter Chat - Create a hashtag for your meeting and kick it off by seeding questions and information at a specific time so anyone who is interested can join in the online conversation. In the following weeks, keep the hashtag on your radar and respond to any questions or comments. This is a simple and easy way to get conversations going and build a community. The group will get to know each other in a much more relaxed, opt-in fashion. If you have a speaker for your meeting, it’s also a great way for them to get familiar with the audience’s experience and needs.
Timeframe: About six to eight weeks out from the meeting.
Hold a Preview Webinar - Even a 20-minute webinar can whet the appetite for more. Using a speaker from the meeting or a high-level employee of your company will draw interest. Keep the content high-level and try to encourage questions. Attendees will arrive on-site with seeds of interest already sprouting.
Timeframe: Three weeks before the meeting.
Start a LinkedIn Group - Like the Twitter chats, LinkedIn groups will help everyone get to know each other’s faces and areas of expertise. These digital introductions help attendees engage with each other quicker. Before the meeting, make one final push in the group to get attendees talking about what they want to learn and even when they’ll arrive on site. This will spike last minute anticipation, leading to an engaged and excited start to the meeting.
Timeframe: Start the group two weeks before the meeting and post regularly until the day of.
The common denominator for all these tactics is increased early participation. This breaks down many of the barriers that occur naturally at a lot of meetings: the social weirdness of not knowing anyone; uncertainty about the content; and a new and unfamiliar setting. Doing everything you can to mitigate these predictable problems creates an atmosphere ripe for engagement and learning.
How do you build excitement for your meetings?