The Why Variable: Understanding the Goals of Your Meetings and Events

by Jessie States, CMP, CMM | Head of Meeting Innovation at MPI


In order to design an experience that has lasting impact for their organizations, administrative professionals must understand the goals and objectives of their meetings and events. Research shows that successful meetings have shared characteristics—they have defined and measurable goals and objectives that showcase the business value and behavior change they drive for their organizations.

So what are the steps to determining the “why” behind your meetings or events?

  1. Stakeholders. Before you begin to design a meeting or event, you must understand the needs of your target audience—both the stakeholders and the attendees. The more you know about these groups, the better you’ll be able to design a meeting that engages them. Find a consensus around needs, but recognize that some may apply to only one key stakeholder or group.
  2. Goals. Translate the needs of your stakeholders into goals. Goals are broad statements reflecting the general needs and intensions of your meeting or event. Goals are often aspirational and overarching, but should also be SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
  3. Objectives. Once you truly understand what your meeting is meant to accomplish, you can drill down to objectives. Objectives are narrow, precise statements of desired outcomes. They are tangible and can be measured. If your goal is to increase revenue (to a specific degree by a certain time), your objective might be to have your salespeople model new techniques on the trade show floor. Your objectives must also be SMART, so that you can measure which work and which do not. Measurement will help you improve your meeting over time and define which tactics best drive business value for your organization.
  4. Measurement. You’ll want to identify key measures. Without measures and results, your stakeholders have every right to question whether the meeting needs to take place at all. Hard data measurement tools may be found in your existing accounting and sales tracking systems. Soft data tools could include surveys, focus groups or interviews. Keep in mind when collecting data, that it needs to be organized so it can be analyzed and the results can be reported with recommendations for the future.

Use these steps to determine what it is your organization is trying to accomplish with its meeting or event, and track whether or not you are accomplishing those business goals, and how you can make improvements to better the results over time.

IAAP has teamed with MPI to develop a brand new specialty, Meeting and Event Planning, and you can earn it exclusively at  IAAP CAPstone 2019. CAPstone 2019 is only for those taking the CAP exam in 2019 or those who hold an active CAP and wish to earn a focused specialty certificate.

Join your peers March 18-20, 2019, at the InterContinental San Diego in San Diego, California, for this incredible opportunity. Class size is limited to ensure personalized learning, so register today!


The Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) credential is a prestigious honor thousands have earned over the last 15 years. Adding the CAP after your name proves to the world not only that you have the knowledge to be great at your job, but also that you are committed to your profession, success, and lifelong learning.

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