It’s easy to overlook a single mistake or gaffe that can derail your event’s success. Even with your good intentions and ample planning, attendees can still walk away grumbling about the event and leave clients or managers questioning your decisions.

Here are the four most common, cringe-worthy mistakes that can completely derail your meeting:

Overwhelming Attendees With Too Much

When planning meetings and events, it’s natural to feel you have to squeeze in as much value as possible, so that attendees feel as if they’re getting their money’s and time’s worth. However, packing in too much will make attendees feel pressured and rushed, and their level of engagement will plummet.

How do you know if meetings are guilty of this faux pas? Just look at the agenda. Are there multiple concurrent sessions that force attendees to miss something important? Are sessions packed so tightly back-to-back that there is barely time to take bathroom breaks or answer emails/calls in between? Are there late-night parties or networking events, followed up with an early morning education session?

A continuous stream of content, education, sessions, and networking events will ultimately frustrate participants, shut down their propensity to learn, exhaust them, and leave them feeling too overwhelmed to soak in anything.

Pro Tip

Take stock of who your attendees are, what they need to be successful during and after the event. Deliver the experiences to achieve that, but also leave plenty of time to regroup and recharge, discuss ideas amongst their colleagues, and plan how to incorporate the ideas they learned.

Not Creating Plan B

Take it from Murphy’s Law and thousands of meeting planners before you: If something can go wrong, it will. Even the most meticulously planned event can hit a landmine. General session speakers get sick, sudden thunderstorms drench an outdoor networking event, attendees return late from an off-site activity. Without enough anticipation of what could go wrong, last-minute messes like this can leave you in a tailspin as you scramble to amend the issue.

Pro Tip

After you’re finished with initial planning, map out back-up plans. Gather with your planning team and brainstorm all the various mishaps that can disrupt your event’s timeline, budget and goal. Then, figure out ahead of time how to mitigate those risks, such as preparing a roster of replacement speakers, list of additional on-call staff, and an adverse weather plan.

Selecting The Venue With the Lowest Bid

We understand. It’s a great feeling to come in under budget and to be the hero for saving your client or company money. Plus, it simplifies your decision process when you can automatically select the cheapest venue. That said, our data shows that over 60% of planners chose a venue that is not the lowest bidder.

The venue you decide on will ultimately determine how the rest of the event goes. We all know meetings are all about ROI (return on investment). The return is the value your organization gets from having all of those attendees together, consuming great content, networking to make new deals or enhance your company culture. By focusing too much on the investment, like the cost of the hotel, you can overlook important elements that impact the return.

By focusing too much on the investment, like the cost of the hotel, you can overlook important elements that impact the return.

Often, the cheapest venue ends up costing you a lot more in time, money, stress, and attendee numbers in the long run. You may have to spring more to pay for transportation costs to activities located 30 minutes away and budget the time to get there. You may have to stomach hearing complaints from attendees angry at having to travel an extra hour after arriving at the airport. Even worse, you will have to work harder to convince attendees to make the trip in the first place.

Suddenly, the cheapest option doesn’t seem so cheap.

Pro Tip

Get clear on the meeting agenda and other priorities besides price. This will ensure that you are looking beyond dollar signs when reviewing venue options. Are attendees looking for shorter (and cheaper) travel time from the airport to the venue? Do you plan on incorporating any golf or spa activities and prefer to have those amenities at the venue? Do you want to incorporate more outdoor events into the agenda?

Automatically going with the lowest bid most often means you’ll have to sacrifice in other areas that might be just as vital. (Note: GroupSync helps with this by helping you easily and quickly narrow down destinations and venues based on your most important criteria.)

Unintentionally Putting Your Attendees to Sleep

Depending on the audience, it can be tempting to keep things strictly educational at meeting and events. For instance, think about government programs or medical meetings attended by professionals accustomed to dealing with sensitive information and serious issues. The impulse is to build a ho-hum agenda with more of the same. Like booking industry presenters to lecture on trends or formatting education sessions to merely present research.

But, remember that serious can be very close to boring. Most people, whether a doctor, scientist, lawyer or government official, don’t remember what bores them, much less enjoy it. This undermines the goal of most events, which is to leave a lasting impression and impact on all of its attendees.

Pro Tip

Every event, no matter the audience, could use big doses of – dare we say – fun and laughter. After all, your attendees are people first, professionals second. And, every person delights in humor, connection, physical movement and storytelling.

Brainstorm ways to inject creativity and playful interaction in otherwise staid topics. For instance, ask speakers to turn their speeches into interactive conversations. Gamify educational topics by presenting Jeopardy- or Family Feud-style. Encourage attendees to get competitive by getting into teams to outdo each other in solving a common industry problem. Use visual and performance arts to spice up a topic.