How Not to Invite Someone to Your Next Event–and 3 Solutions

Who’d like to attend another meeting? Not me. You’re probably not looking for another time suck, either. But when you’re the one hosting the meeting, how do you entice people to attend? After all, your meeting is going to be filled with valuable information that will make people glad they stopped by. Don’t miss this!

First, acknowledge the reality of hectic schedules and meeting fatigue—that energy-draining syndrome that infects people who’ve attended one too many unproductive gatherings. I’ve experienced meeting fatigue many a time, and I bet you have, too. That’s why I don’t get overly excited when I get invitations like this:

“It’s time for the XYZ annual meeting! This is your chance to meet with XYZ staff. Find out how area XYZ members are putting our group’s programs to work in their businesses, and see how you can plug in.”

No, thanks. I’ve already got enough on my plate. This invitation isn’t exactly a compelling offer that entices me to mark this event on my calendar. The “benefits” are just too vague.

Don’t waste my time
As a business professional, time is one of my most precious resources. I believe time spent in a meeting (whether it’s in person, online or over the phone) should generate a return on investment. Otherwise, your event isn’t worth it to me, no matter how much I like you or your organization, my friend.

What missed the mark? “Well, wonder no more.”
This is why I just shook my head when I recently received an email invitation that read:

“Who is the keynote speaker at the 2018 National Conference you may wonder? Well wonder no more.”

I’m not sure anyone could have written a weaker lead. My first thought was, “How arrogant! Did this writer really think I’m just waiting to hear who the keynote is for some conference I’ve never heard of before?”

This is the modern business equivalent of the ancient world thinking the sun revolved around the earth. News flash–my world doesn’t revolve around you or your conference. I certainly haven’t been on pins and needles wondering who the keynote speaker could be.

Maybe this is a great event, but what I was reading didn’t show me any reasons to part with my hard-earned dollars and precious time to attend this meeting. I wasn’t even convinced when I scrolled down and saw that the keynote topic was “The Strategic Value of Business Relationships in Agribusiness.” Sounds interesting, but you’re too late. Stop cluttering my inbox. Delete!

3 tips to entice attendees
The whole thing didn’t have to end this way. Stronger writing—the kind that takes the needs and wants of the audience into account—would have worked wonders.

To create this magic, be a bit of a tease. Seduce your audience, if you like. But don’t turn them off. Here are my 3 top tips for writing a meeting invitation to gets results:

1. Make them an offer they can’t refuse. Be clear. Be specific. Be compelling. For example: “Invest two hours with us, and leave with 5 field-tested ideas you can start implementing now to grow your business.” Without a clear path, your offer is limp and unconvincing. Make it easy for people decide that your meeting is worth their time.

2. Satisfy their desires. People are always looking for better ways to save money, make money, save time and enjoy life more. They also like to be informed and entertained. What things motivate your clients, prospects, or members? If you don’t know, find out. Then craft your message by highlighting how time invested at your meeting will help satisfy these desires.

Think back to that ridiculous email invite I received. Here’s how I might have approached this, if I were the writer:

What’s the One ‘Harmless’ Habit You Need to Drop If You Want to Succeed? You’re a busy professional who is in the habit of growing revenues, not relationships, right? But what if you’re overlooking the key to your business’s long-term prosperity—without even realizing it? Bill Jones, president of ABC Agri-Business, knows where you’re coming from. During our annual meeting, he’ll share the most important lesson he’s learned in 30 years of business with “The Strategic Value of Business Relationships in Agribusiness.” If you’re ready to leap ahead of your competition, you won’t want to miss his practical advice in this powerful keynote.

Tell a little story. Speak your readers’ language. Show them what’s in it for them.

3. Seal the deal. Your offer sounds great, but people may still hesitate to sign up for your meeting. Make the decision easier with social proof. Consider this a form of risk management for your audience. Gather testimonials from other people who’ve found value in your meetings. Have them share their stories, in their own words. Take a picture of them, if they don’t mind, and/or shoot a quick video of them sharing their testimonial. Have them explain what challenge they were facing before they attended your event. Then invite them to talk about the value (knowledge, networking opportunities, etc.) they gained by getting involved with your group. Finally, ask how they’ve put this knowledge to work to make their life and/or their business more successful.

Include these stories and testimonials with your invitations. Longer versions can go in email invites or a web page, while a short, concise testimonial might work well on a postcard or letter. In any case, get your audience thinking, “These people are a lot like me. If they’ve benefited from this type of meeting, maybe it’s worth my time, too.”

Let the revolution begin
Now that you know how not to invite someone to your meeting, plus you’ve received 3 top tips to do it right, it’s time for you to lead a meeting revolution.

Show your audience how your next meeting will help them achieve their goals. Prove to them that attending your meeting will be the best investment of their time. Prepare to get more RSVPs (and attendees). Oh, and one more thing—let me know how it goes!

Want more?
Thanks for stopping by. I invite you to read more of my blog posts if you value intriguing Iowa stories and history, along with Iowa food, agriculture updates, recipes and tips to make you a better communicator.

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Also, if you or someone you know could use my writing services (I’m not only Iowa’s storyteller, but a professionally-trained journalist with 20 years of experience), let’s talk. I work with businesses and organizations within Iowa and across the country to unleash the power of great storytelling to define their brand and connect with their audience through clear, compelling blog posts, articles, news releases, feature stories, newsletter articles, social media, video scripts, and photography. Learn more at, or e-mail me at 

If you’re hungry for more stories of Iowa history, check out my top-selling “Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More” book from The History Press. Also take a look at my latest book, “Dallas County,” and my Calhoun County” book from Arcadia Publishing. Both are filled with vintage photos and compelling stories that showcase he history of small-town and rural Iowa. Order your signed copies today! Iowa postcards are available in my online store, too.

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Talk to you soon!


@Copyright 2019 Darcy Maulsby & Co.  Blog posts may only be reprinted with permission from Darcy Maulsby. 

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