Agenda Wars: How to Get Your Hands on the Ever So “Secret” Agenda

by Jul 21, 2014

Sometimes securing an agenda from your client can be rather tough. Especially in the corporate world of secrecy and multiple draft iterations – nothing is ever final. Yet, as event planners we need components of the agenda to be able to coordinate logistics. Thus the tug-of-war. If your client is holding the agenda hostage from you, here are some ways to get your hands on the agenda so that you can do your job.

Show them the way

Sometimes, clients just don’t understand why we need the agenda. So, when you tell them you need it – try to also educate them as to why. Teach them about how the agenda is needed for scheduling purposes with your host venue, and how that venue makes plans based on the information they receive. Consult with them on how you would plan food and beverage based on the scope of their agenda. Educating our clients on why we need agendas can help, and in most cases will lead your client to becoming a better sharer down the road.

Be the secret keeper

Sometimes all you need is high-level information for scheduling and outlining your logistical program. If that is what you are looking for, start there and let your client know you only intend to use the high-level scheduling information, and all other information you will keep secret. As the process moves along, you can start asking more detailed questions to fill in some of the finer lined items. If they trust you to give you a copy of the full agenda – great – take the opportunity to look to see other items you will need to plan for.

Blame it on the vendor (sorry vendors!)

I’m not asking you to lie here, but push the fact that your vendors are needing information so that they can make your meeting successful. Sometimes a little reminder to your client about your specific vendor will help you get your hands on the agenda information you need. Perhaps your speaker needs to know when they are going to arrive and speak, or your need to push out the smartphone app for the conference with high-level agenda information. Let the vendors and the elements that your client is depending on drive the agenda out of their hands – and into yours!

Nothing is ever final

“I can’t share it yet, it isn’t final.” This is an excuse that I’ve heard hundreds of times. What is ever final in event planning, right? Keeping your client at ease to know that you can be adaptable to changes, but will need to plan on what you have right now. That will help them loosen their reigns. There comes a time were as an event planner, you need to put your foot down, and finalize a few things. Let your client know your deadlines, and the fact that some decisions will be final based on the agenda information you have.

Take the drivers seat

There have been situations were we have to just create the agenda for our clients. If your clients are confused or they are just stuck and do not know were to start (yes, they are out there), just create an agenda for them. This places you in a unique position of driving the agenda for the program. In many cases event planners have to fight for this drivers seat, so if you are in a position were you find yourself behind the wheel – own it and put the pedal to the metal!

Have you had a tough time getting agendas for the events or meetings that you try to plan? Share your stores, and start the conversation!


Photo credit: Four businesspeople in a boardroom smiling by le temple du chemisier via Flickr


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