Small meetings offer unique opportunities and challenges. In fact, sometimes it's the smaller event that can really test your skills and resourcefulness. A program with fewer attendees typically means less formality, less production, and--you guessed it--less money. Nevertheless, you'll want to present a professional meeting--good audio, a tasteful environment, quality graphics and video, first-rateand entertainment--even if there are only 50 people in the audience. That's because attendees are accustomed to (read: spoiled by) the standards you've set in larger programs.
The challenge is clear: How do you produce a top-notch meeting for fewer than 100 people with quality, impact, and all the support required, on a modest budget? The answer can be tidily simplified into a checklist that I like to call "Meeting in a Box." In a nutshell, the idea is to be just as comprehensive as you would be if you were producing a large event, but to substitute smart, simpler alternatives for each production element.
Just as with a larger event, your approach will be driven primarily by the audience, budget, and goals of the program. Also, a site survey is no less important for a limited-space event than for a large one; indeed, the room layout will likely be trickier. And whenever space or money is limited, determining which line items "get the cash" (the set, graphics, entertainment, speaker, video, and so on) should be your first course of action.
That said, here's my checklist. The examples in the first column represent common large-scale approaches; those in the second column illustrate how you might scale down that approach for a smaller meeting. If you have a producer, fax him your list; if not, get it to the hotel audiovisual manager or the person on your team responsible for AV. You might even develop different versions of the meeting for each type of program you plan, adding or subtracting elements based on your objectives and budget. You'll end up with a handy, low-maintenance, Meeting in a Box that can easily change as needed--and give you time and energy for your other 99 priorities.