A company's major incentive conferences are planned with lots of care and attention. After all, companies rely on them to increase sales, maintain management relationships with the field, and reward the hard work of top producers. These events also help to create a company's reputation in the minds and hearts of those producers.

No news there.

But have you considered how every meeting held by your company is a reflection of the company? Judy Martin has. And raising the bar for all meetings is at the top of her list of goals for 2001. “All of our meetings are critical to the image of ING overall,” Martin says.

So she is creating a set of standards for every aspect of a meeting, from the invitation to the business agenda, in order to ensure that the image of ING as a worldwide financial services leader is maintained. There will be standards for meeting suppliers as well. Read about Judy's project in our cover story, page 42.

Here are some ideas for getting started on your own meeting standards:

  • Visit the Web-based 3M Meeting Network for ideas and expert advice. (Go straight to the site's Reading Room, www.3m.com/meetingnetwork/readingroom/index.html, for a slew of nuts-and-bolts articles on holding better meetings.)

  • Consider adding quality clauses to your hotel contracts. For example, include consequences for coffee breaks that are delivered late, or registration desks that don't have the agreed-upon number of staffers during peak check-in time.

  • Require internal meeting clients to provide you early on with clear meeting objectives.

  • Look into new software from Meeting Professionals International. The Meeting Quality Evaluation benchmarking tool, designed for planners of events of up to 800 attendees, includes a set of national norms against which companies can benchmark typical meetings of the same category.

Have you already created standards for your meetings? How do you maintain your company's meeting reputation? E-mail me your ideas and I'll compile them in an upcoming issue.

Remember that every meeting your company holds is a reflection of the company. And beyond that, it's a reflection of you. Here's to glowing reviews!