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Seven sure-fire ways to zap energy in a meeting

Posted on February 05, 2007

By Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE

Turn a key in the ignition. A motor engages, a spark flies, connects to a battery and, voila- ENERGY!  No connection. No energy.

People are just like cars. Our energy—the capacity to do work—is depleted when there is little or no connection between ourselves and other people, our jobs, our family, our profession.  The energy equation that best summarizes this is E=MC2.  Don’t think Einstein. Think of it this way:  Energy = Meaningful Connection to the power of two.  The more you are connected in a meaningful way to people, places, positions, and your personal passions, the more energy you will experience.

Meetings are marvelous examples that can either generate energy through deliberate, conscious connections which engage people of all generations and at all levels or they can be tedious, boring events that leave people wondering why they ever came.

Often, the meeting planner is stymied by executives or association officers who insist on doing things “the ways they’ve always been done.”  Perhaps this brief list might reinforce the rationale for making change. While the degree to which you can influence these meetings might vary, consider some of the more common things I have noticed that disengage the very community you wish to create

1. Head tables on a stage—some as many as three tiers high—where the “leaders” demonstrate table manners and elitism.  The “we/they” implication is evident and the opportunity for connection vanishes. 
2. Dense agendas that attempt to pack in everything from skill-building sessions to complicated reports dull any connection. Follow this with another speaker at dinner and you’ve drained the blood from attendees.
3. A room set-up that leaves an enormous gap between staging and the front row. Combine this with a huge center aisle and every presenter is confronted by a wasteland that sucks energy away.
4. Name badges in 10 point-type with enough ribbons to make a near-sighted general envious are definite dis-connectors.
5. Not allowing enough time for formal and informal networking.
6. Not creating up-front expectations on what the meeting participants will do as a result of the gathering.
7. Poorly prepared presenters who dump data rather than deliver meaningful content. (Most executives could use a speech coach in both the design and delivery of material.


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Joan Eisenstodt

Thank you for this - and those of you who are CSPs could take these tips a long way by helping to consult to your clients on how to make meetings more inclusive with greater connectivity. More, we have to train venues about good education. Just not there yet. Keep at this, please, Eileen and join all of us who are trying our darndest to change it all.

Eileen McDargh

Thanks, Joan! As the National Speakers Association Meeting Partner of the Year for 2006, your comment demonstrates what it can mean when we both work together to genrate results for the members of our meetings. Keep up the work from your end and we'll get this thing right yet!

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