Make your meetings smarter in 2019

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

Booking, preparing and hosting meetings needn’t be a grind for stakeholders. NYS shows you how.

With UK office workers spending over 10 hours a week on average preparing for and attending meetings, there’s never been a greater time to understand how the booking process works – and how to ensure those meetings work for everyone who attends.

Leanne Fowler, our Director of Strategic Meetings Management profiles the key SMM stakeholders, and explores how NYS’ analytical approach helps meeting hosts deliver excellent meetings by connecting in the right way.

Who are the SMM stakeholders?

Stakeholders are typically Executive Assistants, PAs, general bookers, HR department and office managers, and the meetings they organise tend to fall into three camps:

Ad-hoc Meetings booked on behalf of a boss or within their own team. These meetings are often viewed as being the responsibility of EAs, PAs or office managers. But the reality is they can be organised by anybody within the business.

Tranche In banking, for example, there’s often a requirement to carry out training or set exams, and they’ll come under tranche bookings; a regular set of meetings in one location or across the UK. This might be done through the HR department or Talent and Development.

Annual A bit of a grey area, because when you get on-site support and logistics involved it becomes an event. However, a company-wide annual conference typically falls within SMM and could be the responsibility of people at exec level or internal comms event managers.

How the stakeholder’s role has evolved

Historically, there tended to be more of an overlap, but the person typically making the booking isn’t always the meeting host. We’re also tending to see more last-minute meetings and the reason might be because stakeholders’ roles have expanded.

It may also be due to businesses making more 11th-hour decisions – or down to the internal meeting space landscape: traditionally meetings were carried out face to face. But with more people working in an agile way (for example, from home) there’s less of a requirement to secure big office and meeting spaces.

Therefore, stakeholders should be looking at alternatives such as video conferencing, Skype or Slack, and, more importantly, how they utilise internal space.

How we deliver for stakeholders

Stakeholders want a slick, easy process. And because every business has a different culture, you need to understand their objectives.

We’re currently doing a lot of work around behavioural science and the profile of the host. Once a host decides when a meeting will take place it effectively becomes the catalyst for everything else, including people’s travel costs, whether they need to be away from home, whether it involves an overnight stay, and if childcare needs to be organised.

So, we’re building up a profile of customers based on behavioural patterns. Why do stakeholders make their decisions – is it cultural or historical? And how can we support them to arrange meetings in a different way that aren’t necessarily face-to-face?

We’re also creating educational hubs. For example, you may have a monthly meeting that involves pulling everybody together, because that’s what you’ve always done. But there may be different and more effective approaches.

The challenges and opportunities for 2019

If venue content is more readily available online, which is currently being done (albeit in pockets), that could be a disruptor within the market place.

To put that into context, online rate visibility will support with budget management by focusing the search to venues within their budget and assist pre-approval of total meeting costs in advance of contracting with a venue.

Technology will support in removing inefficiencies in the traditional offline searching and booking process whilst providing greater visibility of meeting data. It could also support with delegate duty or care and tracking. We have seen the benefits already within our own customers with the introduction of meetingsPro our online meetings management tool

We see policies applied a lot in travel from spend caps through to limitations on who can travel together however this doesn’t necessary flow through to meetings. Your teams could be meeting offsite, at a five star venue with only the PA booking the meeting knowing where and who the attendees are.

The Three Point Plan for stakeholders

Clarity Set an agenda in advance. Be clear about what attendees need to bring to the meeting, what the objectives are, and show the outcomes. Often in meetings there are no actions or next steps.

Concise If you invite too many people, outcomes can become diluted. Also, the way a meeting is structured can sometimes result in discussions that could easily be resolved offline.

Connect Some businesses are making people read the agenda at the start, along with actions from the previous meeting. Others force attendees to leave their phones outside the meeting room. The real issue, however, isn’t about having fewer meetings, it’s about making them more relevant and getting the right people in the room. Ultimately, meetings are about connecting people in the right way.