18 Feb

Building Consensus Among Meeting and Event Planning Teams

Unless a meeting or event is very small, meeting planning and successful execution are team efforts, so reaching a consensus about key event design elements and menu details is vital. In the same mind of thought, having defined points of contact to communicate decisions to vendors is equally as necessary. The importance of agreement for meeting and event planning teams applies regardless if it is a meeting, conference, corporate event, prom, or family affair.

While it is often assumed that corporate events might be slightly easier than planning a wedding or a fundraiser, there are still complex relationships involved that could be even more demanding depending on the scale of the event. Rushing to arrive at consensus and important details will be missed or may never surface if too much time is spent building consensus. The execution phase can end up short-circuited, derailing other decisions later on.

To strike a manageable balance, consider these six tips:

1. Determine who is on the event planning team.
This is usually obvious to organizations planning conferences or large scale corporate functions, but sometimes, the role of key players is overlooked and plans run astray at the last minute if they were not consulted. One thing is certain, the more players involved the more challenging it will be to reach a consensus and effectively communicate that to vendors unless specific roles and duties are assigned.


2. Share your vision of the event.
Most often this step is skipped. A clue that key players have a different vision for the event is that decisions that some may perceive as a ‘slam dunk’ are dragging on and on such as venue selection and choice of a caterer.


3. Hit the pause button.
Discuss and come to an agreement on:
– Who is to be involved in planning the event.
– Each individuals roles and responsibilities.
– Who is to be involved in making decisions.
– How decisions are to be made
– How and who will communicate decisions to vendors
– The type of event each individual envisions
– Venue preferences
– Catering preferences

If anyone has strong objections to an idea, better to scuttle it out as soon as possible than allow it to cause issue later in the planning. Even though the idea might not be the best idea for this particular event, keep it in mind for future planning.


4. Set a rough budget and where it will come from.
Emphasis is often placed on the financial nature of events, regardless of type. Expect sticker shock from team members who are not usually involved in event planning. They will likely not have an understanding of how much things cost.


5. Give everyone a say, but not a vote.
It makes sense for critical decisions, especially when trying to get input from larger planning groups, to use their team planning meetings to ensure all issues and concerns are aired and that all options are explored. Give 2 or 3 senior team members the task of taking this input away, carefully considering all the options, and making the final decision. Arriving at consensus isn’t always easy, but to guarantee there is buy-in and cooperation from all key players it is essential.

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6. Establish Your Go-To Persons
For every element of planning there should be a go-to person that acts as point of contact with the vendor responsible for that sector. They will be responsible for communicating the team’s decision to the vendor and communicating information from the vendor to the team. By eliminating multiple people from being in contact with a vendor, mistakes can be avoided such as not having two contradicting decisions given to the vendor that will cause backtracking later on.

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