Gathering Force

As simpler in-person meetings stage a comeback, new solutions make face-to-face more effective and more efficient

After two years of uncertainty, in-person meetings are staging a comeback. Before the COVID tsunami triggered disruptions in meetings, small gatherings were the bread and butter of most companies’ events. But small does not necessarily translate into simple, or easy. Fortunately, there are tools and techniques that make small meetings post-COVID more effective and efficient.

First the basics: What exactly is a simple, small meeting?

“The short answer is…it depends,” says Rachel Andrews, senior director of meetings and events at CVENT. “There really isn’t an industry-wide definition for what constitutes a ‘small meeting,’ and various factors like guest lists, budget, event duration, and venue size can all come into play. It also often depends on the event location as well. What constitutes a small meeting in Las Vegas would look much different than a small meeting in Tysons, VA. Some organizations put their parameters on the smaller end of the attendee and budget scale – for example, no more than 25 attendees, costs in the few-thousand-dollar range, etc. – while others count small meetings as those hosting fewer than 100 people. Others put ‘small’ somewhere in the middle of those two figures, and our study last year in partnership with GBTA took the same middle ground in defining a small meeting as having 50 or fewer attendees, with ‘large’ events having more than 50,” Andrews says.

“However you define it, the small meeting in its various iterations will continue to be the basis of many – if not most – companies’ events programs moving forward, and as such deserves careful consideration and thoughtful planning.”
While the number of meeting attendees can serve as an “outline” or standard for a small meeting, Shauna Whitehead, VP customer solutions at BCD Meetings and Events, notes that the prospect of VIP’s attending may elevate the meeting, and keep it from being defined as a ‘small meeting’ due to the complexity or higher touch required in the planning process. But for starters, she says a small meeting has 25 attendees or less. Whitehead says there several key characteristics to consider when defining what simple/small meetings mean to your organization: “size, scope, cost, complexity, type of audience (internal/external/VIP), comfortable with risk (which is typically determined by legal/ financial policies), transient booking alignment, internal or external meeting space, and conversion/goals for virtual.”
Robert Frisch, author and CEO of Strategic Offsites Group, provides a colorful definition of a small and simple meeting. Called the Two Pizza Rule, it helps determine how many participants should be invited to an in-person meeting. According to the rule, two large pizzas should feed everyone present. The rule, Frisch says, is credited to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.

Categories: Special ReportMeetings & SMM

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