I hadn't realized how long it'd been since we had been to the movies until my Foursquare app told me I hadn't checked into our favorite theater since early summer. But after reading glowing review after glowing review, we had to go see "Gravity" this weekend. And, because everything really is about meeting planning, I found myself thinking...
It just may be possible to get too much good press about an event. I found myself a little reluctant to go because all those glowing reviews had created such high expectations that I was pretty sure the reality was going to be a let down (as happened with a few other movies I saw this year. Darn critics!). That it actually topped everything I had read about it still blows my mind.
Meeting planning takeaway: Try to slightly undershoot when setting expectations so your attendees will find it even better than they expected—always better to overwhelm than underwhelm.
Also related to promotions: The movie critics get really specific about the different components, from the director and writers and actors to the music and 3D technology, almost too much, actually. But knowing beforehand some of the nuances really did make the experience even better.
Meeting planning takeaway: If you're including testimonials in your marketing materials, try to get really specific ones (ex.: how the use of silence in the score of "Gravity" underscored the beautiful emptiness of space, instead of "great movie!").
In the movie (no spoilers, I promise), Sandra Bullock's character had to keep accomplishing tasks, on a deadline—and I do mean deadline!—in order to have a chance at survival.
Meeting planning takeaway: OK, so probably you don't have a lot of life-or-death challenges involved in your event, but are there ways you can let each success build on the the previous one, each learning build toward the next? Do attendees have any stake in getting to the next session on time? If not, how can you up the ante so they do?
Pacing is so, so important. In the movie, there are periods of intense action and stress, but there also are recovery times (for both the actors and the audience) where we could be quiet, unclench our hands, and take a few deep breaths.
Meeting planning takeaway: Do you shoo people from session to session to session to meal to session to reception to evening activity with just a few coffee breaks in between? Do you build in recovery time, and places to where people can clear their minds and just sit with the experience for a few minutes?
Listen to your subconscious. I can't say much about this part without giving too much away, but suffice to say that one of the main character's best ideas was something she didn't even know she knew.
Meeting manager takeaway: Don't be afraid to let go and let your mind wander when you come up against a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. And you don't have to be borderline unconscious to tap into your subconscious: Just today I tried something I read on the Conference that Work blog, and it worked! Basically, the premise is that if someone sounds like they might have a solution but they aren't sure about it, ask “If you did know, what do you think the solution would look like?” Just asking myself the reframed question brought up all sorts of solutions I didn't know I knew. Now if my subconscious would just look and sound like George Clooney...