Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 13 2017

How to Get Your CEO More Involved in Your Meeting Strategy

David McMillin

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A “seat at the table” — it’s the coveted spot that every meeting professional is hoping to occupy. However, finding an open position among the C-level leaders of an organization isn’t easy. As meeting professionals work to articulate the value of the events and conferences, a recent Convening Leaders panel of experts offered insights into their approaches for sparking meaningful conversations with their CEOs. “Do whatever you can to get your CEO more engaged with what’s happening at your meeting,” Karen Malone, vice president of meetings services at HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society), told the audience in “Events Marketing: C-Suite Strategy Talks Revealed.”

Malone said she aims to speak in her CEO’s language and use the buzzwords that matter to him. However, she doesn’t just bump into the organization’s CEO in the hallways or at company outings; she schedules a monthly meeting with him, and she writes the agenda. Malone aims to make sure that the agenda is ahead of the curve, too. She told the Convening Leaders audience that meeting professionals should place staying informed of attendees’ needs at the top of their priority lists. “The person who knows the most about the customer wins,” Malone said.

Knowing those customers starts with understanding what they’re talking about each day, which makes the trade publications of the organization’s given industry required reading. “Are you in front of the headlines, or are you behind the headlines?” Malone asked. “You need to read the headlines every day.”

Make the Meeting Matter to the CEO, Too

But conversations with CEOs aren’t simply about passing along those headlines or citing some of the favorite words in their vocabularies. It’s equally important to make sure that the leader of the organization plays an active role in the on-site experience, too. Malone recommends arranging strategic appointments and identifying key influencers who should be on the CEO’s radar during the program. “Think about the role that your CEO can play at your meeting,” she said.

Introduce Them to the World of Experiences

When a meeting professional receives the invitation to take that seat at the table, it’s important to focus the discussion on experiences rather than the traditional events. Don Neal, founder and CEO of 360 Live Media, shared his perspectives on the difference between the two terms for the Convening Leaders audience in the same session. “Most CEOs don’t really understand the first thing about experiences,” Neal said. “But there’s a reason that experiences matter — because you can command a premium if you deliver an experience.”

While CEOs are busy, it’s safe to say that any leader is willing to listen to a conversation about bringing in more revenue for the organization. “Most events are not indispensable and irresistible,” Neal added. “Only great experiences that move your heart and change who you are are really worth paying more.”

Interested in more insights from Convening Leaders? Click here to check out some of the most popular sessions from this year’s program.

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