Usually, the responsibility for planning business meetings and corporate events is delegated to employees who have little or no contact with the executive team. This can present several challenges during the course of planning and executive events.
We have previously discussed the suggested steps for getting CEO buy-in and some of the documents that may be helpful.
It is important to stress the fact that, without executive level input, it may be difficult to ensure that meeting content or the event agenda dovetails with senior management priorities.
In RFPs, outline the steps required to ensure quality including the stages at which you will need input from or sign-off by a representative of the executive team.
Provide specific examples of why executive buy-in is crucial and what can go wrong if executives are not given the opportunity for input:
- You run the risk of arriving at the retreat and having the CEO or VP set aside all or most of the agenda on the day of the meeting.
- Even for events that are strictly recreational, failing to stage manage the executive team can create major logistical challenges. For example, if the CEO decides that he or she would prefer Japanese cuisine and dinner arrangements have been made for an Italian venue, the event team can be left scrambling to find an alternative.
- For events that involve scoring team results, it is important to wait for meal service to begin until all teams have checked in so that ample time can be left for scoring while the group dines. If the senior management team has not been briefed, they will invariably insist on an early start to service which will leave participants sitting around restlessly waiting for results.
Before beginning to arrange event details, prepare a 1-page executive summary indicating your understanding of event objectives and priorities. Include an agenda highlighting how the event will unfold and a sample layout for printed event material.
If your request to review the executive summary with the CEO or most senior VP who will be in attendance is declined, with your key contact to navigate organizational channels and get the executive assistant to review and get sign-off for the proposed plan.
Always build more time into the actual agenda than the CEO indicates he or she requires for presentations. My company typically doubles the time that was requested and builds it into the final agenda as a buffer. It is rare that this buffer is not used.
- Prepare another final executive summary a few weeks before the event or meeting is scheduled and provide another opportunity for members of the executive team to request modifications. (Include a small floor plan as some senior executives with a high need for control will even rearrange the room set-up or seating plan when they arrive at the venue.)
While there is no foolproof approach to stage managing the CEO and other members of the executive team, providing opportunities for input at critical junctures in the planning process can minimize disruptions on the day of the meeting or event.
For more tips on working with executives during the event planning process, also read& Event Planning: Why Is There Resistance to CEO Involvement?
Photo Credits: Executives International