Being onsite is like living in a bubble where everything has been designed for “maximum engagement” – Team-building! Motivational speakers! Networking! Dine-arounds!
But once your audience leaves the ballroom, the bubble starts to deflate. The messages you worked so hard to craft start to fall by the wayside as daily reality sets in. You can try to tap into your second wind with the typical post-comm strategies like follow-up emails (We Did It!) or swag (Every time you see this, remember – We Did It!), but for a sustained engagement, you’ll need more that these one-offs to really have an impact.
The Meeting Microsite
The web is built on connections. And your intranet is a fantastic opportunity to foster connections – attendees to each another, and between attendees and content. The amount of information covered in a meeting can be overwhelming, and often people need more time to process it. The microsite gives them this time. They can review highlights on their own time, at their own pace, which means greater absorption and application.
Depending on the number of events scheduled during your meeting, attendees may not have the time to network. Or they may need a networking nudge – some topic to start a conversation. Having the meeting content on a microsite gives them this platform, from which they can initiate conversations and start to build a greater sense of community.
What Content Should You Have?
The microsite is a virtual vault of key messages, videos, audio and photos that tells the story of the meeting. Stories help us remember, so the microsite content needs to be organized in a way that makes sense, connecting what the audience heard onsite to what they do every day.
Start at the beginning – if there was a meeting theme, what was the rationale behind it? For each element – motivational speakers, team-building exercises, volunteer activities, explain how the actions tie to the corporate strategy. The more your audience hears the why behind the what, the more they will internalize the reasoning and apply it in their daily activities.
How Do You Make It Successful?
Start with a plan – actually two.
Your first plan will be a communications plan with the themes, talking points and activities of the meeting. From this you will generate your meeting’s story, e.g. Our global sales force achieved record numbers by doing the following 3 things: A, B, and C. Our target of $XMM this year will come from focus in 3 areas: X, Y and Z. You’ll want to develop this story before you go onsite.
Your second plan is your production plan, which has the onsite schedule so you know when to capture quotes, audio and video. Laying this out ahead of time lets you plan for any additional resources you will need to assign to content capture. Essentially, this is your reporting team – it can be as streamlined as one person with a video camera or as robust as a full production crew.
For general session videos, capture highlights rather than the entire speech. Your objective is to create the cliff notes version for viewers. To make the video edit process easier, note the highlights during the speech – either by time of day or time code.
During breaks or walk-in/walk-out, capture attendee quotes. If you can get them on camera, great! But if not, photos with text or text by itself is fine. Remember that the final product is a multimedia experience, so content in multiple formats makes for a richer experience.
Take a lot of pictures – or hire a professional photographer. People love to see themselves – sometimes serious, sometimes palling around, so make sure to mix up the tone, framing and composition.
Engage leaders by giving them a platform. Whether it’s from managers to their direct reports, or from senior leaders to the audience, the onsite video has impact because it has immediacy. Capture as many as your schedule allows and use these in post-show emails to drive traffic to your microsite.
Make the IT People Your Friends – Really
Your IT team is essential. Get them involved early and invite them to share their ideas for what would make the meeting microsite successful. They may suggest developing a smartphone app that creates a shortcut to the microsite as a way to increase engagement…or have file size limits that impact how much content you can capture. Knowing these things early enough in your process lets you adjust as needed and keeps everyone in the loop and – hopefully – happy.
The meeting microsite is an upfront investment of time and money with a long-term payoff. Use it as your post-event communications platform to keep attendees engaged…then deepen the connection – and generate excitement – as you introduce content for next year’s event.