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How to Cut Corners and Save Money On Your Next Meeting

As travel and meeting budgets are scrutinized like never before (thanks a lot senators), meeting planners continuously strive to cut corners (which is actually why they opt for round tables at most events). So in my ongoing effort to be of service, here are some suggestions for how meeting planners can save big bucks while still putting on a meeting. Not necessarily a great meeting, but you know… a meeting.

  1. Don’t waste money on promotion. Most businesses attract their customers via word of mouth, so why shouldn’t meetings operate by the same principle? If your meeting is going to be that fabulous then surely word will get out. And if it doesn’t, then think of all the money you’ll save when no one shows up! It’s a classic win-win.
  1. Look for low rent meeting venues. Who says abandoned warehouses wouldn’t make for a great meeting space? They’re spacious, airy, and…did I say spacious already? Meeting in a warehouse would make a statement. (I have no idea what that statement might be, but it would definitely be something provocative.) Or how about school gymnasiums? The back of a semi trailer? The chairman’s basement?

Penguins Meeting_1619038

  1. Do-it-yourself lanyard tables. Scissors, scotch tape, crayons, some colorful paper and BAM: You’ve got yourself one heck of a crafts table to welcome participants with! Plus you’ll save on the outrageous cost of lanyards, which, I’m told, are outrageous. Failing that, simply offer low budget generic lanyards all labelled “PARTICIPANT.” Why, after all, should you be paying for people to identify themselves when I’m pretty sure they already know who they are?
  1. Cut the calories. Airlines have already trained people how to fast during business trips, so why not extend this accepted practice to meetings? Meals, I’m told by unreliable sources, are the most expensive line item on any meeting and really, are we there to eat or are we there to learn? So cutting out several meals, trimming off three or four courses per meal, providing toasters and bread, and encouraging people to bring a bag lunch will not only save money, it’ll help participants drop a few pounds–and trust me–they’ll thank you for it.
  1. Remove the chairs. You’ve heard it a hundred times: Sitting is the new smoking. You wouldn’t dream of letting participants smoke during a meeting, so why are you letting them sit?
  1. Lose the table centerpieces. I really don’t need a set of moose antlers blocking my view, and besides, the cost of moose hunting has been climbing for years. So forgo the centerpieces and put that money back into the lanyard crafts table for some sparkly crap.
  1. Don’t hire a professional audio-visual company. Audio-visual companies will try to sell you on the idea that things like lighting and sound are “important” to the “success” of your event. They’ll claim that none of the PowerPoint presentations will “work” without a projector or “screen.” But really, what does any of that mean? Don’t get suckered in by some slick a/v person talking all technical at you; a couple of flip charts, a bull horn and a headlamp and you’re good to go.
  1. Don’t waste money on a professional emcee. Uncle Bob emceed your niece’s wedding last year, and a few people agreed he was sort of funny once he got stinking drunk. So do you really need a professional emcee to keep things moving when everyone has an uncle Bob they can haul in?  
  1. Hire only Ted-x speakers. A handful might expect food, but most Ted-x speakers have been trained to work for free. In fact, they demand not to be paid! And the fact that they have nothing to say past the 18-minute mark will cut down on your rental space costs.
  1. If you do hire a professional speaker, forget the celebrities. Not only will celebrity speakers break your bank, they’ll demand things such as accommodation, meals, and a microphone. Outrageous!! No, if you go the professional speaker route, seek out speakers who only think they are a celebrity, (I can provide a list) but in fact, are actually just desperate to become one. Their hunger to make the leap to celebrity status will mean they’ll compromise at every turn, allowing you to save money on things like accommodation, meals, and a microphone. Plus, there’s the added bonus that non-celebrity speakers will actually provide such compelling content during their presentation that meeting participants will, at least temporarily, forget they’re slowing starving to death in a warehouse.

You’re welcome.

Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker and the author of six books including, The Humor Advantage.



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