Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.
The most difficult part of change can be convincing stakeholders that it’s needed. You’re working with people who see the meeting through their own filters, including long-held beliefs (beef for Thanksgiving, anyone?). This allows for healthy debate, but can be a stumbling block when consensus is the goal.
How can you manage the conversation without tearing out your hair?
Know your audience
Know your supporters and detractors.
Pre-wire key influencers.
Determine how your stakeholders best accept change—managing the scope (not all at once); demonstrating the new practices (see it in action); hearing it from an outside expert (they always know more than you, right?!); etc.
Allow for time acceptance
Build in time to ponder the proposals. Don’t expect full acceptance at the first meeting.
Get feedback, asking for their likes, concerns and suggestions.
Consider a phased-in approach by introducing changes over several years instead of all at once.
ONE AWESOME IDEA
Make them feel the change, not just think about it
Your stakeholders’ responses are loaded with emotion. To sort that out, assign each stakeholder a role that represents one participant perspective (e.g., young professional, seasoned exhibitor, one discipline, etc.). Coach them to put themselves in that person’s shoes as you verbally walk through your meeting, asking them to think about how they feel as they “attend” the meeting.
Your need to be a great storyteller. Stay neutral by focusing on the outcomes. They need to shed pre-conceived notions and to stay in their assigned personas.
When you get to …happily ever after, discuss their reactions to determine if you’ve built consensus, need to tweak some things, or try a new approach.
There are many resources about persuading stakeholders. Check out a few based on the Google search “how to persuade stakeholders.”
Aimee Gabel, Solar Energy Trade Shows, LLC and David Saef, GES MarketWorks, who presented the awesome session, Win Stakeholder Support for Cutting-Edge Programming at PCMA’s 2016 Convening Leaders.
Information disclaimer: WANT MORE? references do not imply an endorsement for any company, product, or service.
Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been planning meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She recently decided that coaching meeting planners is now more fun than proofing BEOs, counting coffee cups and writing scripts. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website!