4 Tips for Engaging Key Audiences at Your Next Event

May 31, 2019
By Sam Bhandarkar, CMP, Event Placement Director of LRP Publications, Inc.

This year, I was fortunate to work with the team at my hometown DMO, Discover the Palm Beaches, as they developed their inaugural external facing GMID activation in Palm Beach County, Florida.  Their program was a tremendous success and yielded key takeaways for organizers looking to design their own community engagement, be it during GMID or under another circumstance:

1. Make it Easy to Participate

* Select an accessible, public venue where meetings have positively impacted the community

* Keep design and production simple and cost effective – this will help prevent the need to implement an attendance fee or cut your invitation list

* Consider scheduling an early morning event, perhaps with coffee service or a light breakfast – it’s easier for business leaders and politicians to “squeeze in” an event at the beginning of their day

2. Invite with Purpose

* Focus on building an invitation list full of local civic and business leaders in addition to the hospitality community

* Be sure to send tangible invitations and follow-up with a reminder a few days prior

* Leverage your DMO network to invite leaders of local corporations and trade associations – include information on the economic impact of meetings supporting local infrastructure, employment and tax revenues that foster the healthy community essential for attracting top talent and driving positive business outcomes

* As you draft your invitation list, remember to include your local:

- Hotel and restaurant association

- Chamber of Commerce and any “downtown development” partnerships/agencies

- State, county, and local municipal government leadership – elected folks and day-to-day public servants

- Media, publishers and social media influencers

3. Connect the National Message to Local Impact and Personal Testimonials

* Don’t bother hiring a motivational speaker – instead, enlist someone at the CVB, Tourism Board, or other qualified agency to share the national and LOCAL economic impact of meetings 

* Ask a community business leader to explain how local meetings contribute to their bottom line – it’s relatable and authentic testimony that validates your data and personalizes impacts

* When presenting to an external audience:

- Hit them with the big numbers on economic impact, job creation and GDP (pro tip: don’t mix and match data from different studies - choose one and stick with it

- Keep presentations short – 45 total minutes from two to three presenters is probably more than they will absorb in the allotted time

- Remind them that the meetings are not geographically static – there’s always “greater share” to be won and additional benefits to be earned locally

- Avoid diluting the message with other worthy causes or meetings industry educational content – while it might be valuable for insiders, you want to provide attendees with clear, on-message takeaways

4. Ask for Help

* Check out the Meetings Mean Business GMID and advocacy online resources – there are free templates, visual media assets and video content which you can incorporate into presentations, signage and hand-outs

* Consult with an MMBC Ambassador, board member or team member to access resources, help design your event or serve as “industry expert” speakers

* Ask about opportunities for social media promotion across MMBC and partner channels, both in advance and on event day

* Confirm what digital media content will be most helpful to capture (pro tip: photo-ops with community leaders are a must)

Last but not least, share your event through social media platforms and thank your key community leaders in attendance.  Your newly earned community of external advocates will appreciate being recognized for their participation and will help take your local event to the global stage!