C-suite executives at your company expect you to design meetings that are “high impact,” says Ira Kerns, managing director, MeetingMetrics. “They want events that drive personal and organizational performance.” Strategic measurement can help you prove that you are delivering that high impact. “Add meeting measurement to your skills and you become imminently more valuable,” says Kerns.

MeetingMetrics, which for the past six years has helped companies strengthen their meeting design and measurement through online surveys, has just released a new set of measurement tools. Called Event Performance Indices, or EPIs, these new measurements give users the ability to benchmark the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of their meetings against others in the MeetingMetrics database. Further, they will allow users to measure an entire portfolio of meetings or the effectiveness of a single but regularly repeated meeting over time.

Measurement Basics
MeetingMetrics users purchase a license for the company’s online pre- and post-meeting surveys. As the surveys and other tools are continually refined, the entire user base has access to the improvements. Also included is consulting on what to measure: ROE (return on event, which embraces all measurements), ROO (return on objectives, which is a specific measurement subset that has numeric properties; for example: “post-meeting, attendees will report 85 percent confidence levels in the company,” or “attendees will retain 8 of 10 presentation points”), and ROI (return on investment, which translates an objective into a financial measure; MeetingMetrics builds on processes from The Philips Institute, the leader in measuring meeting ROI, to create its process for measuring ROI).

MeetingMetrics also offers a process for designing meetings based on the real needs of customers (attendees), Kerns says. “Planners need to create customer value,” he says. “Pre-meeting, capture the voice of the customer/attendee through research. A high value for attendees equals high-value outcomes for your clients.” What does that mean? It means attendees “will think, believe, and behave as the meeting owner had hoped they would based on the meeting’s design.”

Here’s the MeetingMetrics process:
1. Discovery Survey—This survey goes out pre-meeting. It’s small and qualitative, bringing up the hot buttons for attendees.
2. Baseline Survey—The hot buttons from your discovery survey get incorporated into this quantitative survey that goes out to a wider audience.
3. Meeting Design—The results of the baseline survey are used to set meeting objectives and design the meeting.
4. Post-Meeting Benchmarks—With post-meeting surveys, you evaluate the education and ask about each meeting element. “Pre-meeting, you see where they are; post-meeting, you see the effect. The tragedy is a meeting where people are unchanged,” Kerns says, especially if you have them together only once a year.

That’s why the pre-meeting research is so critically important. It can uncover attendees’ opinions, attitudes, and beliefs. “Leadership is often very removed” from those things, Kerns says. “If you don’t know employees’ opinions about the company and policies, you might not address them at a meeting. Pre-meeting research gets at these easy-to-manipulate opinions. Attitudes are longer term, more deep-seated. And beliefs are the most deep-seated and personal: They are a person’s value system.” When those values don’t match up with leadership’s values, he says, it is extremely disabling for a company.

What’s New: Diving into the Six Dimensions
MeetingMetrics is a spinoff of GuideStar, a research company founded in 1987. GuideStar research experts design and monitor the MeetingMetrics products, and to create the new EPIs, they pored over the extensive meeting data that MeetingMetrics has tracked over the past six years. That “deep dive,” says Kerns, revealed six dimensions of meeting effectiveness:

  • improving on-the-job effectiveness
  • worthwhile investment
  • overall meeting experience
  • motivating to attendee personally
  • quality of education
  • networking opportunities

These characteristics of effective meetings then were used to create five new indices. They are:

1. Meeting Effectiveness Index: This measures your meeting’s success in delivering on its fundamentals; that is, how it scores on each of the six dimensions of meeting effectiveness.

2. Meeting Efficiency Score: This measures the cost of achieving your level of meeting effectiveness versus the average cost efficiency across the MeetingMetrics database. This index assigns a dollar value to each dimension of effectiveness generated by meeting.

3. Relative Effectiveness Score: This measures the relationship between the actual effectiveness of your meeting and the expected effectiveness.

4. Effectiveness/Cost Ratio: This looks at meeting performance over time and is the index intended to be used with a portfolio of meetings.

5. Investment Net Worth: This measurement shows how much of your meeting investment (that is, your total cost) generated positive return. A score of 100 percent, for example, would mean that every dollar spent on your meeting returned value.

“These are higher-level measures than you’ve seen before,” Kerns says. And that’s what you need. “The CFO in particular is casting a sharp eye on meetings, asking, ‘What are we getting for this million dollars?’ Even in healthier economy, this will not change. It is embedded now.”

Dynamic Database
A pre-condition of achieving these new measurements is adding questions related to the six dimensions of meeting efficiency to your pre- and post-meeting surveys. Likewise, only meetings in the MeetingMetrics database that already include such questions in their surveys can be used at this point to come up with the averages against which all users can benchmark their own results.

However, the database is dynamic, and as the number of clients using the new indices grows, the universe of data will grow as well. Ultimately, according to Kerns, users will be able to compare themselves to averages by industry and type of meeting.

Find more at the MeetingMetrics Web site.