There are 10 main things to consider when setting meeting goals:

1. What is the purpose of the meeting? Can we create a clear written statement of why this event is to be conducted? Does it agree with the top priorities of our organization?

2. Can we establish quantifiable goals for this event and clear thresholds of achievement by which we can determine its success? Make the objective specific, measurable, attainable and realistic, relevant, and time-based.

3. Whom are we trying to attract? Identify all stakeholders in the meeting (attendees, organization leaders, facilities professionals, etc.), and set priorities. Which group's needs come first?

4. What do I want attendees to remember most about the event? Can we summarize the experiences our attendees should have?

5. What can prior history teach us about this meeting? Is there information that would be useful to us in determining the potential for success - or failure - of this meeting?

6. Who else has conducted the same type of meeting, and what can we learn from their experiences? Talking with meeting planning peers can be a big help in setting effective and realistic goals.

7. Do we have the resources necessary to achieve our goals? Can we successfully conduct the event with the staff we have, or do we need to consider outsourcing part or all of it? How much can we rely on volunteers, and how will we go about recruiting them?

8. Have we sought input and commitment from our staff? Have we asked previous attendees for their comments and suggestions?

9. How will we reach our intended audience? What type of marketing and promotion will we do to spread the word about the event?

10. How will we monitor and determine the success of this effort? Develop measurement tools that address the pre-meeting process, all on-site meeting elements, and the various post-meeting outcomes.

Meeting design should be "edutaining," integrating both education and entertainment. Just because we are used to "talking heads" doesn't mean learning can't be creative and innovative. Look at the objectives for the meeting, and consider points such as the following to clarify your thinking:

* If developing new membership in our organization is our objective, perhaps we need to include a demonstration of faith on stage and bring in people who have recently joined.

* Can we really teach people in a hands-on way when we reserve six breakout rooms for 150 each? Perhaps we should develop a more interactive design and set for 50 people per room.

* Keep track on a continual basis (not at the last second) of the latest techniques and technologies that can be employed in group and adult-learning settings such as Internet, CD-ROM, virtual reality, and interactive games. This ability to assist in the design stage of the meeting not only allows you to contribute at a higher level, but also integrates your logistical search into the objectives of the meeting and once again minimizes last-second changes.