How to Get a Seat at the Power Table

Group meeting at a table

Would you like to be seen as an event professional whose opinion is valued and can have a permanent seat at the table where strategic decisions are made? Howard Givner, founder of Event Leadership Institute, shared the secrets to attaining trusted advisor status in an exclusive interview with Smart Meetings.

Related: 4 Crucial Steps to Making a Positive First Impression

Understand the Client’s Business

Givner argues that “events are a strategic value, which businesses use to drive their goals.” Demonstrating that you understand that business and can help the company accelerate toward leadership goals will earn you a place at the top. That requires understanding how the company makes money, who the client’s clients are, what their needs are and the trends they will be grappling with in the future.

Smart meeting professionals help clients articulate their goals because many of them don’t approach an event knowing the exact results they want. Get comfortable asking:

  • Describe success.
  • What happens if we don’t host this event?
  • Who needs to be impressed?

If you can help clients describes their goals in detail, you have a better chance of meeting their expectations.

Defend Your Opinion

Young event planners are often advised to not question what clients say they want, but turning yourself into an order taker may be the least helpful approach for your career. You have years of experience, so don’t be afraid to push back—in a professional way. Brainstorm possible directions a conversation might transition before the meeting to prepare. Try these approaches to move the needle without ruffling feathers:

  • Role play possible scenarios of how an idea could play out.
  • Cite goals and statistics and let them point the conversation toward the most advantageous outcome.
  • Share industry trends and innovations, thereby adding value to the discussion. Even if the ideas aren’t adopted, you will gain a reputation as someone who is aware of current trends.

Speak the Power Table’s Language

Executives often speak in their own code and look for a few key terms to draw conclusions and made decisions. You have to know how to frame your proposals and at what level to describe them. Too many details and your suggestion will be lost in the weeds. Too high of a level and they won’t have enough information to move forward. Master these terms to decode the conversation:

  • Return on Investment (ROI): the difference between the work put in and the results.
  • Lifetime value: average dollar revenue a business will get from their lifetime.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost: The sales effort and marketing expenses needed to invest in acquiring a new customer.

Relive the entire webinar presentation here.



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