My mind was on meeting planners today and how you have so many things to be concerned about about–arranging the best hotel, the most delicious food, what kind of gifts the attendees will receive, a compelling theme for the conference—and yikes!–who’s this year’s guest speaker! Yes, your job is only for the most organized, well-detailed of people (it’s not for the weak!).
As meeting planners, you always keep your cool, right? You never wear your emotions on your sleeve. No matter how dire your situation, all attendees and bosses see your job as effortless, like an Olympic ice-skater. Yes, yes, easier said than done. Below are a few keys to avoid or embrace. AND, if you have any to add, feel free to share!
How do you avoid surprises? The chef has prepared an all-meat banquet for an all-vegan conference. Um, not cool. How do avoid this? Don’t assume that everything has been taken care of, double check and check again to make sure your team (in-house or outsourced) is on the same page. After all, when these mistakes happen, all eyes are on you, not the chef, right?
It’s a fine line of controlling and letting your staff do their job. I get it–you feel “if I want something done right, I might as well do it myself.” WRONG! If you do EVERYTHING yourself, you lessen your chance for success. You start to become (as my father use to tell me) a jack of all trades and master of none. Get people in positions to make your event a success. Be a guide, and yes, oversee the event, but give them space to make a few mistakes (a few mistakes that WON’T hurt the event). It will help you in the long run, because they will learn how to make (the right) decisions for themselves (and they will appreciate you more)!
Don’t Sleep on the Job.
Been there before? While it’s great to have your schedule down every year, be careful not to go into auto pilot. If you find yourself saying, “here we go again, same old conference with the same old dinner, and the same old speaker”–PRESS THE PAUSE BUTTON! If you’re bored, then your attendees are too (and they’re thinking the same thing). Change it up–talk with your committee members and brainstorm ideas how you can excite your company or organization.
Can’t Get a handle on things?
Like the picture below, you have things on your mind and can’t really figure out how to solve them? Get people who know people who know people who know people–seek expert advice to make the best decisions. I even do that. Okay, fortunately, I have a whole library of experts to reach out to whether it’s social media speakers, top business speakers, or team building speakers–but seriously, show me a person who knows everything about everything. The only person I know is a fictional beer commercial character (the Dos Equis guy, you know, the most interesting man in the world?).
See what other people are doing at their conferences. What keynote speakers did they book? How did they go over? Perhaps you are seeing a trend in social media, and everyone is doing it–but how do you incorporate it into your conference? Trends are telling. They indicate what society (or your attendees) is responding to. Use trends, understand them, and learn how to act on them (if they’re right for your organization).
This is easier said than done. Think of why/how you became a meeting planner (even if you were volunteered). I believe the most successful meeting planners enjoy putting events together. There’s no feeling in the world like overhearing at your event, “wow, this was the best conference ever!” or “I can’t wait to get back to the office and try out these new strategies that I learned.”
There’s something special about being a meeting planner. You love people, you love networking, you love putting events together. That doesn’t mean, you don’t get headaches, or there are rough patches–but you have such a positive outlook, that you can overcome adversity, no matter how challenging! So when you put together your next event, smile, and enjoy it. You’ve earned it!
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