Over the past 20 years in my career, I’ve had the opportunity to lead, conduct, and facilitate a number of meetings and strategic workshops.  I’ve outlined a few things that I think makes them a success.


  • Ideally, employees should be prepared, focused and energized for the meeting.
  • As the leader, it is not your job to force people learn or be successful; your charge is to create an environment in which people can learn and be successful.
  • Meetings must have meaning, make an impact, and lead participants to action
  • Approximately 50% of the meeting (if your organization will allow it) should be devoted to simulation(s), case studies, role-playing, etc so that people are actively involved and able to walk away with tools they need to be able to use the skills they develop during the meeting in their day to day work.


  • Many leaders focus 100% of their preparation time on the content of the meeting.
  • High-Impact Meeting or Workshop planning involves the following:
    • 50% content planning:
  • What is the message, initiatives corporate initiatives etc you want to present?
    • 50% process planning:
  • How will the meeting’s content be delivered to ensure a productive, interactive, high-energy session that leads participants to take action?
    • Pre-work assignments
  • What can the participant read or research that will make the meeting more impactful and increase meeting engagement?


  • Set ground rules, or ask the team involved to set rules to which they all agree (flipchart their responses).
  • Seating assignments when necessary (don’t do it or use creative ways to do it)
  • Juxtapose high energy exercises with low-energy lectures.
  • Have participants sit with different person each day to create variety.
  • Regulate the room temperature, light to keep participants comfortable.
  • Room setup is vital: classroom style is the least conducive for adult learning so try setting the tables in rounds or in a horseshoe.
  • Play music before the meeting begins and during breaks (have participants bring in their favorite CDs)
  • Completer your preparation for the meeting at a minimum of  30 minutes prior to the start of the meeting,
  • Greet participants with a handshake as they walk in the door.
  • Place posters that cover topics such as organizational values, motivation, and performance around the room.
  • Post your most important poster on the inside of the door to the room.  (Participants will see this poster each time they go in or out.  Message will be ingrained in the participants and could be used as a positive measurement tool or tracking of trends in positive behavior.)
  • Give participants short, frequent breaks instead of long, infrequent ones.  This will ensure that the energy of your participants remains high throughout the day.
  • Offer different snacks throughout the day.
  • Structure your meetings and workshops to allow participants to get out of their seats and participate interactively.
  • Keep the lecture component of your meetings to a minimum; ideally digital presentations should be no more than 10-15 slides.


  • Hang posters around the meeting room.
  • Enlarge “Measurements” poster to show progress.
  • Recognize as many people as possible, whenever possible.
  • Know your staff well enough to acknowledge milestones in their lives, service anniversaries, completion of training, birthdays, marriages, births, etc.


  • Be sure to model appropriate uses of the materials during the workshop.
  • Use role-plays, case studies, and simulations during the workshop so that participants can get out of their seats and get involved.
  • Include time for open, honest feedback from other team members in response to role-play exercises
  • Provide participants with a concise action list that outlines the “mission-critical” tasks that must be accomplished during the next few months in order for the tam to be successful.   Use positive reinforcement to motivate everyone involved.


There is a wide variety of role-play simulations that can be fun, exciting and a great way to for participants to  learn new materials and roles.

  • Three in a Circle
    • Three participants per group.  One presenter plays the role of coach, one person plays the receiver (coachee), and the last one is the observer.  The presenter delivers presentation to receiver.  The observer observes the presentation and interaction between the presenter and the receiver.  The observer then provides feedback to the presenter about what seemed to work well and on what areas he/she might make improvements.
  • Battle Line
    • Participants line up across from each other and deliver 2.5 minute presentations. Each team of two presents for a total of 5 minutes.  Upon the leader’s signal, participants move to present to a new teammate.
  • Ball Toss
    • The group forms in a circle.  Leader selects one participant to start a presentation regarding the material.  After completing the first part of presentation, the participant tosses ball to another teammate who must continue with the next part of presentation.  The process continues until presentation is complete or all team members have presented.


  • Develop a to-do list in collaboration with your team.
  • Send out follow-up memos within 48 hours of the meeting to thank participants for their attendance and remind them of their commitment to the to-do list.
  • If appropriate, ask participants to make a weekly update of their progress to their training partner.
    • The message should include updates on at least one action item that the participant has completed during the week.
  • Distribute a short progress memo each month following the meeting.
    • Include the items that participants have agreed to complete.
  • Provide daily or weekly feedback.
    • How does each participant see success?
    • What motivates these people to be excited to come to work, to be thoroughly engaged, and to reach beyond their wildest dreams.

I’m confident that if you take a few of my suggestions and apply them to your next event, you’ll have a higher level of success and overall satisfaction from participants.

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About the Author
Steve Reese
Steve has 29 years of leadership and training experience with one of the world’s premier Corporations. Steve is a dynamic and results-oriented leader with a record of success in developing staff for promotional positions. He is an innovative and inspirational leader. As a Senior leader he has a proven track record for building high-performing, financially successful organizations. He has extensive experience in interviewing, hiring, training and performance management. He has trained and developed over 1,000 representative and managers.

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