As the COO of a multinational company, fulfilling the strategic intent of every event was my number one priority. Strategic intent is the single most important requirement for a successful event.
Despite its importance, as decisions and logistics pile up leading up to an event, companies often lose sight of their strategic intent. So, here are three ways to make sure your strategic intent remains front and center throughout the planning process.
Don't be afraid to ask leadership for a fresh perspective
I was responsible for both a quarterly executive committee meeting and our division's annual national conference. Just as one meeting ended I was working on the next and always had the annual conference looming over my head. Running from event to event can cause you to focus only on logistics. However, each event should build upon the other and lead to growth. Are you using each meeting as a building block toward something bigger?
You must stop and ask leadership for their perspective and in some cases provide your opinion on what was accomplished in the last meeting or event and what the next steps should be. Those become your intent for future events. What are step two, three and four after your audience is persuaded to believe in step one? Never be afraid to poke your CEO for a fresh vision or strategic insight.
Constantly remind yourself and your team of the strategic reason for the event
I used to write the formal strategic intent of each live event at the top of our agenda drafts, verbally remind our team at the beginning of each internal planning meeting and repeat it over and over as I participated in booking speakers and panelists. I wanted everyone to be clear on why I chose each speaker and how they fit in with our motive and goals for the event. With every agenda change, I had to reassess if we were truly fulfilling our purpose.
Don't worry too much about attendee happiness
I never worried about happiness. We always had fun, strengthened relationships and I still remember some of the great memories from our big events. But, happiness is different than fulfillment. Happiness doesn't ensure the company will remain competitive. If I was unable to influence the future decisions of our attendees in a productive manner, everyone lost. All of the time, effort and money was wasted if the meeting was unable to satisfy strategic intent.
It took me a while to realize how influential my role was as a curator. When I finally understood how to strategically organize a series of dynamic events to change the life of my audience, intent finally stuck. Yes, it's not simple and is a big burden to carry, but with a focus on intent, you can influence the future decisions of your attendees.
Shane is a speaker coach, consultant and founder of Overflow Story Lab. He is an expert in story structure, messaging and accelerating the adoption of ideas. A former COO at a multinational firm, Shane has built four companies inside two billion dollar organizations. He regularly helps organizations launch strategy and propel movements. He understands the importance of live events, and regularly advises committees and meeting-planning teams.