This is an excerpt from Managing Sport Events by T. Christopher Greenwell,Leigh Ann Danzey-Bussell & David Shonk.
In the event industry, it is not unusual for an event planner's entire day to be consumed by meetings. Endless meetings can be both boring and tiring, but meetings do not have to be this way. It is important for event planners to become proficient at meeting management. Depending on your role within the organization and in planning the event, you may be required either to call meetings or to attend them. Meeting attendees may include employees within your organization and representatives of network organizations involved in planning the event. Each of these network organizations probably has a stake in the event. Numerous stakeholders may attend the meeting, including government officials, sponsors, governing and sanctioning bodies, sport venue personnel, representatives from the organization that owns the rights to the events, local businesses, sports commissions, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, local hoteliers, representatives from local attractions and rental car companies, and security personnel.
Poorly planned meetings can influence a sporting event. Streibel (2007) suggests that bad meetings waste time, talent, and resources and can negatively affect the climate, culture, and image of an organization, whereas good meetings help answer questions, assist in the discovery of new questions, and allow for discussing important issues and reaching decisions as a group. Francisco (2007) provides guidance for planning and running a successful meeting using crucial checklists. She claims that creating and facilitating effective meetings requires (1) preparation, (2) conducting and documenting the meeting, and (3) following up after the meeting. The following section discusses each of these stages.
Stage 1: Preparing for the Meeting
One of the first questions to consider is whether or not you actually need to call a meeting. Francisco suggests that meetings are needed for the following reasons:
- To present information that is better delivered in person
- To get input from others
- To gain buy-in on an issue
- To motivate and energize a team or individuals
- To solve problems
When considering whether you should meet, Francisco suggests taking the following important questions into account:
- Can you state the purpose of the meeting?
- Is the purpose of the meeting worth the participants' time?
- Would an e-mail or phone call produce a more efficient result than calling a meeting?
- Do you truly want or need participant input?
- Will you truly act on participant input?
- Do you have all the information you need to meet productively?
- Have you given yourself and the participants enough time to prepare for the meeting?
- Are the participants able to work together on the issues necessitating the meeting?
If you do call a meeting, it is important to set a purpose for the meeting and to develop objectives that will be accomplished during the meeting. You also need to develop and distribute an agenda, secure a meeting location, and inform attendees of the meeting date, purpose, and location.
Stage 2: Conducting and Documenting the Meeting
Because everyone is so busy, some staff will enter a meeting without adequately preparing for it. Francisco suggests that meeting facilitators attempt to get everyone on the same page by leading an exercise that highlights the purpose and objectives of the meeting and by having the group identify norms for behavior. During the meeting, the facilitator needs to strike a balance in how the group approaches critical and creative thinking. The group can become overwhelmed with too much creative thinking; alternatively, excessive critical thinking can lead to situations where ideas are not given enough time to come to life. Another component of this stage is documenting the discussion, decisions, and actions that take place in the meeting. Facilitators should delegate the responsibility of taking meeting minutes to another staff member involved in the meeting.
Stage 3: Following Up After the Meeting
Particularly in the sport event industry, the real work begins at the conclusion of a meeting. Follow-up and follow-through are critical components of the successful implementation of an event. Meeting minutes will need to be distributed, and action items from the meeting will need to be carried out. In particular, specific action items in the minutes should be documented for further follow-up along with listing the staff member responsible for each item.