Integrated marketing Communications – Live Meeting Openers


One of the really exciting integrated marketing communications tasks that rightly belong to we, The Small Office Communicators, is creating meetings to solve problems and introduce new products and concepts. I’ve got several posts and an article that go into some of the thinking that triggers the need for a meeting (listed on a post here, and this article). I’d like to assume, for now, that you have done all the thinking and planning, and now are starting to develop content – starting at the beginning… The Meeting Opener.

What is the, “Meeting Opener?” From my perspective, when I start a meeting, I want the attendees’ attention focused on the here and now and in that room, not a spat with a spouse, a surly taxi driver, a missed wake-up call or anything else that might distract their focus.

Over the years, Meeting Openers have taken several forms:

  • Thought Pieces that tend to be a bit slow moving and rich with quality imagery and motivational words.
  • Inspiring and Motivational Openers that do just that, inspire and motivate… but rarely have the punch to get attendees to pay attention.
  • Exciting Head Grabbers – just like they sound!

Having grown up creating meetings that, “opened with a bang,” I generally favor the Exciting Head Grabber style. The simple reason… I want my attendees focused on the meeting at hand, ready to contribute, and to leave the meeting motivated and willing to implement the strategy or product we are introducing. And you most easily get that with a bit of loud and exciting.

So why do we need Meeting Openers?

  • Focus attention in that room at that time
  • Establish the “theme” of the meeting
  • Establish the problem that will be addressed
  • A possible tease as to what solution will be offered

In other words, let the attendees know just why they are gathered in that room at that time and get their attention… that’s it, that’s all! After that, it should be productive and informative content that will be of value to the attendees – remember, they are asking, “What’s in it for ME?”

Just for perspective, the meetings I did for Minolta, which had national and international audiences, generally started with arrivals the day before to accommodate travel disruptions, a cocktail reception/dinner that evening, and the opening “Main Tent” General Session the next morning. After the decompress and socializing of the evening before and the loud and exciting meeting opener, we pretty much had their attention, and could proceed with business confident that our attendees would, “get the message.”

So where do we get those Meeting Opener Modules that will grab the attention of our attendees? There are two places: create them yourself or pay to have them created, or purchase/rent them from companies who create them specifically for that purpose. I’ve done both, and prefer to, “build it myself” (which may include hiring a production company to build it for me). But often that’s not in the budget, so it’s time to look outside, and there are quite a few companies that have created rental meeting elements that are quite good. The reason you can purchase/rent these modules for so much less than it would take to create it yourself or have it created is that the production companies are selling/renting them to many customers, thus spreading out the cost. And don’t think they’re getting rich by renting you a module. By the time they pay all the rights and clearances for the music and images they use (which they MUST do), plus the labor to assemble them into an exciting show, there ain’t much left. And the reality is that they have LOTS of modules that they have produced, and some may only sell a few times. But we really don’t care about them… if we successfully light a fire under our attendees, it’s money well spent!

OK… all that said, I’ve generally found it moderately difficult to find meeting openers that I would like to show the audiences we had. But my audiences are not your audiences, so I would recommend doing a search on Meeting Openers, or Exciting Meeting Openers, and then start digging. It will take some time because you‘ll have to look at a BUNCH of modules to see which one fits your audience and budget and how you want your meeting to feel. A brief aside here… when we did the audio tracks for the many programs I did at Minolta, it often took hours to find good pieces of music to use, searching hundreds of tracks for just the right ones for MY program. Lots of the music was great, but it just wasn’t for my show. So searching for a meeting opener module is not something to plan for a quick 15 minute searching session. Most likely, it will take hours. Thank goodness for the internet because these days, we can sit on the couch with a laptop and surf and sample while watching a ball game.

Also look for modules that can be customized. Some meeting module shops create programs that have several places designed into the show where your logo or meeting graphic can be fairly easily dropped in. Including this may be included in the cost, or be slightly extra… but it is worth it to, “make the show yours!” Your attendees will appreciate the extra effort… they’ll think you really built it for them.

So as you build your meeting, use the Meeting Opener to:

  • Focus attention in that room at that time
  • Establish the “theme” of the meeting
  • Establish the problem that will be addressed
  • A possible tease as to what solution will be offered

When you do that, you’ll start your meeting, you’ll “move your audience” to where you want them for the rest of the information that you and your presenters will deliver.


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