Meeting in a Box

By Lain Ehmann

Usually, opting for a ready-made product means sacrificing the individuality and detail of a custom-made solution in favor of a lower price. But trimming costs doesn’t have to mean settling for the generic, says Doug Keeley, president of Toronto’s Further Inc. The company recently launched a suite of multimedia modules for meeting planners that combine the convenience of off-the-shelf products with the personalization you need to make your conference or meeting unique and applicable.

Meeting planners have fewer resources to pull off meetings these days and often are faced with shorter timelines, says Keeley. As a result, Further Inc. developed an off-the-shelf conference and communications suite, The Mark of a Leader, that is perfect for events with 100 or more attendees. Whether you’re hosting a meeting of franchisees, salespeople, dealers or employees, the package supplies the components you need to plan and execute your event. The suite of modules includes everything from a theme logo and invitations to customized PowerPoint presentations and interactive sessions, an e-zine and follow-up programs. By providing all the templates a planner needs to put together a conference, meeting or other event, The Mark of a Leader can cut production costs and slash planning time, says Keeley.

What makes The Mark of a Leader different, says Keeley, is what he calls digital storytelling. Clients have access to a library of inspirational and motivational stories on subjects ranging from Ben Franklin to rock ‘n’ roll, Oprah to Christopher Reeve. After reviewing the assortment of 5- to 7-minute stories, the client can choose an appropriate tale to be customized specifically for the audience and the meeting, and then have it recorded live by a professional speaker. The presentation is supported by a collection of thousands of still photos, original music and video footage, yet runs off a laptop. The modules can be incorporated into the client’s meeting as its keynote address, breakout session or closing speech.

These modules serve several purposes, says Keeley. They can be inspirational, set the pace for the meeting, break up the event or be thought provoking – all the things a live speaker would offer but at a fraction of the cost. “This is not a bunch of videos you rent,” he says. The customization means the presentation is tied to the event’s messages, making the whole meeting more hard-hitting and successful. “It ensures the message lasts after the conference is over,” Keeley says.

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