Super easy and effective non-tech tools

August 4, 2017


Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.


There are lots of tech tools available to make our jobs easier. Once again, I’m going to let others vet those. I want to remind you of the value of a few very basic tools.



Tip #1

Good data and history are your secret weapons.

  • Collect data. It doesn’t have to be a big deal; simply counting everything is helpful:

    • attendees in each session to measure which time slots are most and least popular and whether people stay to the end

    • the number of cookies left to adjust your order next year

    • when people registered to remind yourself that they really do wait until 4.5 weeks out

    • how many abstracts were submitted to determine if it correlates to attendance figures, e.g. lots of abstracts = lots of registrants

  • Record the numbers so you can easily compare year-to-year and run useful reports.

Tip #2

Take evaluations and surveys beyond the basics.

  • Skip the typical survey questions—how would you rate…; what sessions would you like…; etc.

  • Write specific questions that measure how to meet your attendees’ needs. For example,

    • What should we be offering that we are not?

    • As a xx(insert profession) what do you wish you could do better?

    • How do you spend free time during this meeting?

    • Would you rather we invest in amazing food or amazing speakers?

  • Use the information to guide your decision-making. If you’re not going use it, don’t ask it.

Tip #3

Borrow the brain power of other planners.

  • Other planners are a great resource. Connect frequently to keep ideas flowing.

Create an informal group that meets monthly to discuss best practices and to solve each other’s problems. Our group in Springfield, IL is called “The Hallway,” because all the good stuff happens in the hallway. We meet on the third Monday and email in between. Because of this community our events are better and we’ve gotten each other out of some jams.



Leverage expertise in a meeting peer review.

Identify a challenge your meeting faces. Print out the results of your survey. Compile your data. Gather meeting planners and a few event participants. Order pizza and beer. Brainstorm. To be effective, define objectives and, perhaps, hold off on the beer until the end.



Challenge:       How to meet the needs of participants from multiple generations. The oldies but goodies don’t want change; the emerging professionals do.

Objective:        Identify five new ways each generation can connect, learn, and find enjoyment at the meeting.

Action Plan:     Assign small groups to brainstorm for each generation. Discuss them in-depth, urging everyone to push beyond the basics; to be creative.



For info about surveys:

Strategies to Improve Your Surveys, has tips on survey design and types of questions to include.

The Metrics That Matter Most, describes where to focus your post-event questions.

5 New Rules for Surveying Attendees, includes tips for pre-event questions.


To learn more about meeting analytics (also called Big Data):

Big Data For Event Organizers—What’s the Big Deal?

Meeting analytics: The future of managing event data is here, focuses on big corporate events, but demonstrates how data can be collected and used.





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.

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