It’s not just a meeting: it’s a production event

BY Jeff Cobb

Something I witnessed at an ASAE Annual meeting reminded me of advice we often give to clients.

What I saw was this:


To clarify, this is a picture of a basic video studio that Personify, the AMS company, had set up in the area outside of the expo hall at the meeting. By having this studio in place, Personify was able to capture focused interviews with pretty much any expert, thought leader, or client it chose to invite into the studio.

For Personify’s purposes, I assume this represents valuable content marketing material, but it could be equally valuable as educational content. And, of course, there’s nothing to say it can’t be used for both purposes.

The point we make with clients is your meetings are production events, and the type of thing Personify did at ASAE is precisely what every organization ought to be doing at its own meetings.

Think about it. The average organization brings together a wide range of talent at its events and should more proactively and consistently take advantage of these people being on site to capture content that can be used in educational products.

This goes beyond simply doing video capture of sessions – which can be valuable, but often results in relatively boring and ineffective education. Rather, as a standard practice, we recommend setting up a basic studio at every event and arranging for experts and thought leaders – both those who are delivering sessions and those who are simply attending – to deliver brief talks on perennial and emerging issues.

These brief videos should be focused on delivering actionable tips and insights. These can be used to supplement other programs – whether online or off – and can also be packaged into subscriptions series, a conference highlight or “off stage” offering, and other products. (And don’t forget that they can also easily be transcribed for use in publications. Use Mechanical Turk  or hire a freelancer on Upwork to get this done at very low cost.)

You should also, of course, use this studio as a place for capturing testimonials to bolster your overall social proof.

The studio Personify set up was on the higher end of what is necessary. If you are a small organization with limited budget, you don’t need to take things this far. A decent video camera – which even includes most newer cell phone cameras these days – a tripod, a lavalier mic, and some basic lighting will do the trick. You can even get away without the last two if you can manage to get set up in a quiet place with good natural light. (You can find all of the necessary equipment on Amazon or – one of our favorites – B&H.)

That’s what’s required from a technical perspective. Naturally, you will also need to put some forethought and planning into who you would like to get into the studio. That means reviewing your attendee and speaker rosters thoroughly, making connections between these people and your product strategy and marketing needs, and then contacting your target “talent” in advance to arrange for a shoot. You don’t need to have every session pre-arranged – in fact, it’s good to leave some open slots for serendipitous shoots – but also don’t leave the scheduling completely to chance. You want to approach the meeting strategically and make sure you capture the content that will be of most value to your members and customers.

Finally, don’t over-think it when it comes to editing of the content you capture. Sure, you can do all sorts of whiz-bang cuts and transitions, but more often than not, these do not add to educational value – or even marketing value – and they can even diminish it. They also tend to blow the budget quickly. So, keep it simple. You can probably find someone locally to do simple editing. If not, Upwork is once again a good resource. Or, you may be fortunate enough to have someone on staff who is reasonably capable with iMovie or another editing program. These days, it doesn’t take all that much to create professional-looking finished video.

Naturally, all of this does require additional effort on top of what you already put into your meetings. Many organizations are bound to balk at that, but think of the huge potential for increasing the return on investment on one of your major assets. Really, it’s a no-brainer. If you haven’t done it already, make your next major meeting into a production event.

And it you have already done it or have questions about how to do it, please comment and share your experiences or questions.

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