I recently received an enticing email entitled “Are your meetings memorable?”
I’m a person who goes to quite a few meetings, and indeed many of them are not what I’d call memorable. In fact, too many just suck. So as you can imagine I read on with great anticipation; having more memorable meetings would considerably improve the quality of my life. As I passed the subject line the email got better and better. They were even offering FREE LUNCH. The opportunity to learn how to make meetings more memorable, AND free lunch—wow! What could this be?
By now, I’m imagining what could make a meeting memorable...something totally unexpected, radically different from the humdrum monotony of dungeonesque hotel conference rooms graced with vomit patterned carpets and the remnants of duct tape from meetings past. I’m imagining light years beyond the bulk-ordered brass wall sconces and the beige assortments of chicken-or-eggplant steamed and served from vats. I’ve almost forgotten the indignity of the $8 cookies. Seriously, some hotels charge 8 whole dollars for cookies at events!
I clicked through to the website—the 50 Best Venues for Events—and clicked on Chicago, a cool city filled with museums, parks, quirky neighborhoods, universities, botanic gardens, galleries, restored industrial spaces and oodles of historic buildings. I’m thinking, “This is going to be awesome, some inspiring and memorable places!”
Nope. Wrong. A list of truly uninspiring f*&k you hotels—Marriott’s, Hyatt’s, Doubletree By Hilton’s, the big Hilton’s themselves, et cetera, et cetera, blah, blah, blah. Here’s one of the images from the website for a “memorable location.”
*Note* We have not changed the quality of this image!
That, I’m sure you'll agree, would make for an extremely memorable meeting; especially for the person who gets to sit with a 9 degree view of the screen, two feet away from a speaker near the door—the definition of receiving the cold shoulder.
I read further, and discovered these event locations were not the promised miracle solution to making events memorable—that would be technology. More precisely, a “robust SaaS platform [that] can help you lower your venue costs, support integrated marketing campaigns, increase attendance, and enhance attendee communication.”
Talk about ingenious—I had no idea that the lack of one of those SaaS platforms was the culprit responsible for merging all my meetings and events into one giant blob of torturous forgetfulness! Now that I think about it, of course I can see that support for integrated marketing campaigns was the one thing that would have made them more memorable for me. Forget the human experience.
Here’s an alternate approach if you want to have a memorable meeting—GET OUT.
Pick an unexpected location: a park, a museum, even someone's back yard. Bring a blanket and let people bring their dogs. When it’s coffee time have a local coffee shop show up with some specialty coffees, get some cupcakes from a nearby bakery and have a taco truck show up for lunchtime, or give people vouchers to local restaurants and let them Get Out from your Get Out.
How will you project your PowerPoint? You won’t. And people will thank you, and remember you for it. It’ll even save you money...no $8 cookies.