New Meeting Planning Book Aims to Instruct and Inspire

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Gather: The Business of Coming Together, a new meeting planning book by Doug Binder, provides both inspiration and tactics designed to make business events more engaging and effective.

A new meeting planner book entitled Gather: The Business of Coming Together, pulls back the curtain on the business of planning meetings and events. The book’s author, storyteller, writer and speaker Doug Binder, wanted to provide a behind-the-scenes look at this often-overlooked, constantly evolving industry.

Binder, who is also a 30-year corporate event producer and creative director, aims to both tug at the heart and stimulate the mind with his mix of how-to strategies, real-life examples, and exuberantly expressed passion for this business. The goal of the meeting planning book, he says, is to provide inspiration and techniques to make all events more engaging, effective and memorable through experiential design, storytelling, collaboration and management

Doug Binder, author of Gather
Doug Binder, author of Gather: The Business of Coming Together

He says the idea for the book has been percolating for years, but the pandemic added both urgency and focus. “We all yearn for the human touch,” he says. “We missed the warmth of family and friends, and I realized how much of that empathy empowers business gatherings as well. We have a new appreciation for eye contact, handshakes and hugs — and even business travel.”

Binder says he wants readers to remember that humans are humans, whether at home or at a business event. “As event designers and planners, we need to fuel the human passions of our audiences, not just react to data mining and analysis.” Event planners can do that by creating moments at their events that evoke sentiments and emotions of a birthday party, a trip through Tomorrowland or a high school reunion.

“There is so much to celebrate about our profession of thoughtful, creative and hard-charging teams and individuals,” Binder adds. “For aspiring meeting planners and designers, the book offers a pretty raw look at what it takes to create resonant moments and experiences that affect audiences and nourish brands. For seasoned pros, take a moment to reflect on the greatest moments you’ve engineered — and think afresh about meeting the needs of an ever-transforming business and audience.”

Says one reader of the book, “Doug Binder is a lyrical writer. And with ‘Gather,’ he uses that talent to bring you into the mindset of both the Gather makers and the Gatherers. I’ve worked in the ‘gathering’ business for over 25 years and this book gets at the heart of what it is all about. And like the best presentations at a convention, the information is snackable.”

Among the many tips Binder shares in the book:

  • “Apps are practical but people are powerful. Whenever possible, give your attendees real people to interact with: employees, partners, customers, peers, even leaders and VIPs. Most likely they have more charming personalities and better ideas for navigating your experience than mere apps.
  • “If you want your brand to breathe, don’t suffocate your tribe. Respect their time and need for freedom in the otherwise regimented world inside your event. Give them more control, especially when it comes to adding their voice to the experience.
  • “When things go wrong at your event or for your audience, remember this: Things go wrong all the time; it’s what you do in those moments that define you and engender new levels of connection and empathy with your attendees. Some of my favorite event memories were born of misfortune, panic and correction.
  • “Storytelling is at the core of all gatherings, business and personal. Here are a few tips for crafting better stories: 1) allow (or force) yourself to be vulnerable, embrace your imperfections; 2) tell us what you did to address and overcome the situation or condition, including some of the missteps; 3) show us the human impact of your story on yourself or others (rather than on the data or numbers alone); and 4) be fearless, at least in the first draft.

“At its core, our business is about connecting an audience with brands and ideas,” Binder says. “Central to that, though, is to elevate the audience (as much as, or more than) the brand. I think we go off the rails when we don’t put audience first.”

The book is available for purchase from Amazon.

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