Elevating Offsite Meetings: The Key to Avoiding Overambitious Planning

In my 20+ years in biotech/pharma, I’ve attended approximately a zillion offsite meetings, and planned quite a few.

Here’s what NOT to do…

Lately, many companies are gathering again for day-long meetings away from the usual work environment. These gatherings, aka offsite meetings, have many benefits, yet can easily become frantic or forgettable without a mindful approach to planning.

Over the years, I’ve noticed the biggest watchout is actually TOO MUCH enthusiasm on the offsite planners’ side, resulting in:

Unclear or incompatible objectives

We want connection! We want engagement! We want to finalize the plan! So many wishes from different stakeholders and the organizers do their darndest to fit them all in, resulting in an ….

Overpacked agenda

I wish I had a dollar for every time a leader said, “Can’t we just shorten the introductory activity to 10 minutes?” Connection and engagement take time, and rushing and being “behind schedule” is stressful for everyone. The root problem here is often…

Too. Many. Presentations.

Instead of a series of Powerpoints that could just as easily be delivered virtually or in the usual conference room, why not give people the chance to interact, and to build on their creativity and connection? My litmus test: if it’s a presentation you would give during a regular team or department meeting, ask yourself why include it in the offsite.

It’s wonderful to get away from the day to day. It changes your perspective and allows new ideas to emerge. I’m writing this post from my yearly “me-treat” in Sonoma and giving myself some of the same advice:

By not over-scheduling, allow time for the magic of the unexpected. 

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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