Minimalist Meetings (And Why You Should Consider One)

Meeting PlanningThe other day, a colleague remarked to me that a recent presentation she’d given to a small group had gone extremely well — in fact, better than expected.  What surprised her wasn’t the high level of audience interest and participation but the fact that she was able to achieve that high level of engagement without the usual bells and whistles.

The meeting room where she presented lacked a projector; and, caught without a backup plan, she was forced to present without modern technology.  The result, she said, was an interesting, spirited discussion that had participants asking great questions that opened up new avenues of thought for the meeting.  It was as if by removing the fancy presentation and animated graphics, she had removed the distractions.

My friend had experienced what I like to call minimalist meetings.

Minimalist Meetings

A minimalist meeting is one in which little or no technology is used to facilitate the meeting.  Instead of PowerPoint slides, the presenter speaks from notes or conversationally, without notes.  All cell phones, smart phones, tablets and electronic devices are switched off or left outside of the meeting room.  And that’s it.  No gadgets, no fancy technology, no bells and whistles…just good old-fashioned conversation.

Minimalist Meetings Encourage the Exchange of Ideas

Technology offers many benefits, but it also has some drawbacks.  It can be used to entertain and inform, but many times, it lacks the human interaction that is so vital to the exchange of energy that needs to accompany the exchange of ideas.

As my colleague noted in the anecdote I shared at the beginning of this post, the energy level in the room during her minimalist meeting was actually higher than in similar meetings in which she had been able to rely on her projected presentation.

Because there were no slides to distract the audience, the audience had to listen to her instead of staring at the screen at the front of the room.  Because my colleague wasn’t constantly pointing to slides, she was able to make more frequent eye-contact with the attendees, another technique to keep people engaged in the conversation rather than passively staring at a screen.  And because she wasn’t tied down to a clicker, pointer or computer to move the slides ahead, she could circulate throughout the room, getting to know the attendees and answering questions more easily.  The entire presentation bubbled with energy and enthusiasm.

Why Minimalist Meetings Work

Minimalist meetings work because once the distraction of technology is removed, there’s nothing left to focus on but the concepts presented.  Whether the meeting is intended as an information-sharing event, problem-solving sessions, or a training seminar, without the distraction of technology, the participants can focus, share and interact as people are meant to do, without the buzz, beep and ring tones of modern life.  The result is energy, enthusiasm, and often a better meeting experience for all.

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Stop Wasting Time and Money on Corporate Meetings & Accomplish Something!

Strategic MeetingsA brash statement from someone who makes his living designing corporate meetings, but I’m tired of watching companies hemorrhage money on useless corporate events.  When meetings are poorly planned and executed, they waste precious time and resources.  Worse, they provide no value so employees try to avoid attending whenever possible.  In most companies, it’s like pulling teeth to get people to attend. 

Corporate meetings can and should be opportunities for growth and engines of change, not an endless string of conference rooms, bad PowerPoint, and circular discussions.  There has to be something better.

There is.  It’s called a strategic meeting, and it’s an entirely different beast from those pointless meetings that plague so many companies.

Strategic Meetings: What Are They?

Strategic meetings are meetings that are aligned with your business goals and objectives.  They’re meetings that are held with a stated purpose, and every aspect of the meeting drives towards achieving that purpose.  Strategic meetings provide a measurable return on investment (ROI).

Strategic Meetings Are Game Changers

One of the hallmarks of strategic meetings is their ability to be game-changers.  When your employees participate in strategic meetings, they know that things won’t be the same by the end of the meeting.

Instead of feel-good goals like motivating the staff or increasing teamwork, a strategic meeting sets a quantifiable goal to improve sales by X or Y percent.  The detailed steps to achieve the goals are included so that all participants know, understand and act on the materials presented.  It’s a far cry from the circular conversation and feel-good jargon of the past.

Why You Need Strategic Meetings

Because strategic meetings are from the start intended to accomplish goals, they save both time and money.  They produce measurable business results that translate into bottom-line profits for your company.

So take those anemic feel-good meetings and turn them into profitable engines for your company.  Talk to Equinox Creative today about strategic meeting planning.  You will be surprised at the impact strategic meetings make on productivity, profits, and morale.

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Why Your Employees Don’t Care!

dear-boss-i-quitThe employment culture has changed and many companies have been blindsided.  Today’s employees, especially the post-boomers, are less driven by compensation and job security.  Money’s important but it’s not what determines whether they stay or go.

Today’s employees seek job satisfaction – an intangible that encompasses a number of difficult-to-measure elements and is strongly influenced by their personal value systems.  They want their work to have meaning … to contribute to society and people’s quality of life.  They want freedom to work in their own way – unrestricted by corporate formality and structures.  They want to feel empowered – that they have some element of control over their work and environment.  Most importantly, they want to feel valued – that their contribution is important to the company and its customers.

It’s a communications problem

Faced with employee apathy, declining production and high turnover rates; many companies search for answers using exit interviews, surveys and various employee or management councils.  While these methodologies collect data and may lead to insight and change over the long run, they won’t make a difference if a turnover wave hits your company.

For many small to mid-size companies, the best solution lies in face-to-face communication with their employees through an employee or sales meeting.  Not the kind of meeting where they explain the company vision and bore them with financial data, but rather a less formal meeting that encourages interactivity and two-way discussion.  This format encourages the free exchange of ideas; providing honest feedback to management and allowing the employees to feel their input is important to the company.  It builds a sense of shared community and encourages emotional buy-in by the employee.  It also provides management insight into both the ideas and needs of their employees.  The payoff is the employee feels empowered; that his or her voice is being heard and their opinion matters.

While interactive communication won’t eliminate turnover or make everyone a superstar, it will increase employee loyalty and productivity.  Whether they are management, field sales or cube farmers, everyone wants to feel good about their job and the company they work for.  It’s up to you to provide the opportunity.

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Corporate Event Planning Drives Business Results

Spare 1Corporate event planning may be one of the most under-utilized (and misunderstood) strategic tools in corporate America.  While many think of corporate events as a necessary expense with little return, a well planned event is a powerful tool that will help a company reach its business objectives.

It is a business axiom that personal relationships remain the foundation of business success and people prefer to do business with people they know.  Unfortunately, our reliance on technology has reduced our ability to build the relationships that directly impact sales, communication and motivation.

Events Build Relationships

In an increasingly impersonal and numbers-driven business environment, corporate events provide a unique opportunity to build face- to-face relationships with customers, employees and suppliers, regardless of the event format.  Yet the full potential of that opportunity is seldom realized due to a lack of understanding by corporate decision-makers or a lack of experience by corporate event planners.

It’s About Communication

At their core, most corporate events are communication events.  They require measurable objectives, clear messaging and effective strategies to deliver them to that specific audience.  Regrettably, few companies focus on the strategic content of their event until the last minute, preferring to base the structure and format on logistical or budgetary requirements without regard for the desired outcomes of the event.  As a result, the logistical elements of the event may not support the strategic and communication objectives of the event.

Effective Corporate Events

Corporate event planning must integrate both strategic and tactical elements to create a truly effective event.  It requires a clear understanding of the business goals of the event and how they support the business initiatives of the company.  That strategic approach, supported by experienced logistical planning, enables the organization to realize the true value of a live event and directly impact the business of the company.

If your corporate event planning doesn’t incorporate both strategic and tactical expertise, you aren’t getting full value for your investment.  Corporate events can be powerful tools if you invest the time and resources to make them effective.  If you are doing exactly the same event you did last year, maybe it’s time to take a closer look at your tools and see if they need sharpening.

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Grow Your Business

Grow Your Business

The Vernal Equinox has arrived once again, signaling the change of seasons in Minnesota.

Just like the seasons, every business changes and the pace of that change is happening at an alarming rate. What drove your bottom line yesterday probably won’t work today.

For example, many companies have spent the last few years concentrating on streamling processes and reducing expenses in an effort to increase profitability and maintain share price. Today that strategy no longer works. You can only streamline or cut so far before it begins to impact product quality and customer service; a bad recipe for long term stability.

Forward-looking companies are focused on growth. They see the economic climate is slowly improving and understand that it’s a great time to gain new customers and market share from competitors who are still in “ride it out” mode. However, growth in this economy requires a whole different strategy than it did a few years ago.

Customers have changed and they now expect customized products and services that meet their specific needs. They demand personalized service and expect to be treated like they are your most important customer, regardless of who they are talking to.

Growth in today’s marketplace cannot be accomplished by a top-down strategy. It requires a cohesive effort by everyone in the company, from the CEO to accounting, aligned to a strategic plan to meet the needs of the customer. Where strategic initiatives were once the guiding force for the executive committee and a few select managers, they now must define the culture and behavior of the entire company.

So how do smart companies drive this huge shift in culture and create a company that instantly responds to market changes? By learning to communicate strategically through all levels of the company so that everyone not only understands the strategy, but believes that it benefits them on a personal level. Employees don’t change in response to an email from the President or because their company introduces a clever tag line. People only change when their beliefs change as the result of new information and a personal benefit.

If your company is ready to grow, give Equinox Creative a call. We’re experts at strategic communication that drives change, resulting in bottom-line growth and increased profitablity.

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