The time has come

December 1st, 2020 @

It’s been five years since Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the world’s largest association for those in the meeting and event industry, acquired the Plan Your Meetings (PYM) brand. In that time, we grew the free education and networking PYM live events—even taking them into the digital sphere this year, complete with avatars!—and transformed the magazine into a dedicated guide for professional development resources in order to serve the needs of non-titled planners seeking growth.

The impact of this change will ideally be minimal for PYM planners. For instance, over time, the most popular PYM blog posts will migrate to the MPI blog, where they’ll remain freely accessible (along with a bunch of other content), and the resources presented in this Professional Development Guide will, in 2021, be updated and published as a supplement to MPI’s The Meeting Professional magazine (also available online at no cost).

So, while this is the final issue of the Plan Your Meetings Professional Development Guide, it’s not the end of our goal to help educate all types of meeting and event planners—it’s not goodbye.

The post The time has come appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

The 33 skills meeting and event planners need to succeed

September 8th, 2020 @

If you’re like many corporate meeting planners, planning meetings and events may only be part of your job and you learn as you go, without formal training. But if planning meetings and events are a passion of yours and you want to become a meeting professional, there are 33 skills you need to master.

The Meeting and Business Event Competency Standards (MBECS)

The MBECS were created jointly by Meeting Professionals International and the Canadian Tourism Human Resources Council. The MBECS comprise 12 categories.

A: Strategic planning

B: Project management

C: Risk management

D: Financial management

E: Administration

F: Human resources

G: Stakeholder management

H: Meeting or event design

I: Site management

J: Marketing

K: Professionalism

L: Communication

Each category requires mastery of subskills that we’ve outlined below. Each one is linked to a story by a meeting professional that we think will help you understand them better and apply them to your work. So bookmark this page and come back whenever you need some guidance.

If you crave a steady stream of how-to information, advice and inspiration delivered to your inbox, be sure to subscribe to PYM and share your stories with us here and on your favorite social platforms. We also offer educational PYM LIVE Events as well as and webinars and certificate programs through our association with the MPI Academy. Plan well and prosper, friends!

Plan well and prosper, friends!

The 33 skills every meeting and event professional needs to master

Periodic chart of meeting skills

A: Strategic planning

The most important piece of the meeting and event planning process is defining the strategy. Put simply: If you don’t know why you’re having the meeting, you shouldn’t have one. By communicating with all the meeting stakeholders in advance and understanding what they’re trying to accomplish, you’re able to develop a strategic plan that’s guided by how you will achieve their goals and objectives. Knowing that will help you properly allocate budget and staff resources, make smart design and vendor choices and help you prove the return on investment later.

1. Manage the strategic plan for meeting/event

ChecklistThere’s a popular saying: If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. Nowhere is this truer than in the meeting and event industry. If you create a strong strategic framework at the beginning and identify clear goals and objectives, it’s much easier to keep track of meeting logistics and all the little details that follow.

1.01 Develop mission, goals and objectives of meeting/event

1.02 Determine feasibility of meeting or event

1.03 Determine requirements to carry out meeting or event

1.04 Develop financial summary

1.05 Monitor strategic plan

2. Develop the sustainability plan for meeting or event

meetingspodcast-green-meetingsDid you know that meetings and events generate more waste and consume more energy than any other American industry except for construction? If you’re strategic about creating a sustainability plan for your event you can have a powerful positive impact on the environment, your participants and your host communities. That’s why integrating economic, social and environmental considerations into your meeting/event design is the second skill you need to master if you want to become a meeting professional.

Being sustainable is more than just eliminating paper, reducing waste and recycling whenever possible. It also involves taking into consideration local concerns and communities, enlisting the help of your vendors to implement sustainability initiatives and measure their effectiveness, and developing a communication strategy so attendees, vendors and meeting stakeholders understand the importance of compliance and can celebrate the resulting successes.

2.01 Implement a sustainability management plan

2.02 Demonstrate environmental responsibility

2.03 Demonstrate social responsibility (CSR)

3. Measure the value of the meeting or business event

ims-roi-meetings-eventsMeetings and events are one of the most effective marketing channels businesses have to fulfill business objectives. Studies have shown that face-to-face meetings are one of the top ways to close new business, build relationships, gain consensus, launch new products, train employees and handle crises. Yet, the value of meetings is often called into question by public figures and the media, often because of a lack of understanding. That’s why it’s essential that meeting and event organizers understand how to articulate how their programs benefit the company, achieve organizational objectives and generate revenue for local economies.

3.01 Develop evaluation plan

3.02 Measure return on investment

3.03 Evaluate/audit meeting or event

3.04 Evaluate effectiveness of risk management plan

B: Project management

After developing your strategic plan, it’s time to get organized and develop a framework for tracking deliverables, deadlines and keeping track of all your meeting elements.

4. Plan meeting or event project

1305-project-plan-cropWith your objectives and goals in mind, you can map out a blueprint for your meeting or event. This framework will help you identify available resources and define the scope of your project. It also will help you set policies, procedures and manage expectations.

4.01 Develop a project plan

4.02 Develop quality standards and procedures

4.03 Develop theme for meeting or event

4.04 Develop procurement plan (acquisition of goods and services, RFPs)

4.05 Establish milestones and critical path

4.06 Develop integrated communication plan   

4.07 Develop evaluation/audit procedures

5. Manage meeting or event project

DOnce the blueprint is set, it’s time to create a critical timeline/path filled with the tasks, deadlines, deliverables, responsible parties and other details that need to be tracked through to completion.

5.01 Manage critical path

5.02 Manage contracts

5.03 Manage implementation of meeting or event

C: Risk management

It’s a scary world, we’re just planning on it. Whenever people gather, there’s a possibility for something to go wrong. You can’t prepare for every contingency, but creating a risk-management plan is an essential part of the planning process.

6. Manage risk-management plan

1207_riskmanagementOutline what attendees, staff members and support staff should do in case of emergency. Provide emergency telephone numbers, etiquette information and run through potential scenarios with your staff. Depending on your meeting location, it may be necessary to travel with or contract security teams.

6.01 Identify risks

6.02 Analyze risks

6.03 Develop management and implementation plan

6.04 Develop and implement emergency response plan

6.05 Arrange security

D: Financial management

It’s easier to save a dollar than make one. Meeting and event budgets include indirect, fixed and variable costs that need to be carefully monitored throughout the planning process. Meetings and events also generate revenue, so planners must identify those opportunities and create plans to manage and maximize them.

7. Develop financial resources

10 ways to drum up business for 2016There are many ways to make money off meetings and events, whether it’s from ticket sales, exhibition booths, grants and scholarships, collecting donations or selling sponsorships.

7.01 Manage sponsorship process

7.02 Manage donor process

7.03 Manage program or grant funding process

7.04 Manage registration process

7.05 Manage exhibit sales process

7.06 Manage miscellaneous funding sources

8. Manage budget

4-Benefits-Of-Budgeting-That-Goes-Beyond-Your-Income-And-ExpensesTracking revenue generation and spend is the best way to make sure that you’re being fiscally responsible. But sometimes you need to revise the budgets if projections differ from the actual reports.

8.01 Develop budget

8.02 Establish pricing (for sponsors, exhibitors, attendees)

8.03 Monitor budget performance

8.04 Revise budget

9. Manage monetary transactions

Biblical-Money-Principles-BudgetingHow will you track receipts? How will expense reports and reimbursements be handled? Will there be a master account for vendors to charge? Who has signing privileges? Are you operating domestically or internationally? These are a few of the things that will influence your cash handling procedures.

9.01 Establish cash handling procedures

9.02 Monitor cash handling procedures

E. Administration

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of paperwork involved in the meeting planning process. It’s essential to review and understand the administrative portion of your work so you can create depositories of event information that you or other staff members can access to track baseline measurements, demographic information and other important historical data.

10. Perform administrative tasks

blog-holland-meeting-planners-multi-taskingBeing strategic in your planning is useless if you don’t know how to operate the software you need to manage the process or report your successes to key stakeholders. That’s why planners need a basic working knowledge of administrative tasks and tools.

10.01 Coordinate office administration

10.02 Manage information systems

10.03 Write reports

F: Human resources

Even companies and organizations that have full-time meeting and event planning departments may need to hire temporary/seasonal staff or recruit volunteers for their events. Understanding how to manage and motivate employees is a crucial part of creating strong, productive, efficient and functional teams.

11. Manage human resources plan

career-networking-01_500x260Identify the internal resources available to staff the meeting or event’s planning and execution team. Figure out what additional help is required. Then develop policies, procedures, training and communication plans.

11.01 Determine workforce requirements

11.02 Establish workforce policies and procedures

11.03 Develop training plan

11.04 Monitor human resources plan

12. Acquire staff and volunteers

VolunteersWantedNow that you understand the gaps in your workforce, develop the requirements and skills candidates need, recruit staff and volunteers, conduct interviews and make offers of employment.

12.01 Develop selection criteria

12.02 Recruit staff and volunteers

12.03 Interview candidates

12.04 Select best candidates and offer positions

13. Train staff and volunteers

online-training-team_building-800X800People must have direction, goals, deadlines and expectations to be effective and productive. If they’re not properly appreciated or taken care of, it takes a toll on their morale. It’s important for planners to be able to communicate praise as well as criticism in a way that encourages, rather than demotivates staff. At the same time, it’s important to hold people personally accountable for unsatisfactory performance and know how to handle terminations and resignations.

13.01 Provide orientation

13.02 Provide training

14. Manage workforce relations

Bad-Job-InterviewerPeople must have direction, goals, deadlines and expectations to be effective and productive. If they’re not properly appreciated or taken care of, it takes a toll on their morale. It’s important for planners to be able to communicate praise as well as criticism in a way that encourages, rather than demotivates staff. At the same time, it’s important to hold people personally accountable for unsatisfactory performance and know how to handle terminations and resignations.

14.01 Supervise staff and volunteers

14.02 Motivate staff and volunteers

14.03 Manage teams

14.04 Evaluate staff

14.05 Process terminations and resignations

G: Stakeholder management

Anyone who is impacted by the success or failure of your event is a stakeholder. But not all stakeholders are created equal. Some help you determine the primary goals and objectives for your meeting or event. Others may have goals and objectives that are not your primary ones, but which will influence your meeting or event design elements. Some have very personal goals or objectives for participating that you can play off of to create your marketing and sales strategies. That’s why managing stakeholder communications and expectations is a key skill you need to master if you want to excel in your job.

15. Manage stakeholder relationships

1205_BPcommunityEvery meeting or event has internal and external stakeholders—clients, CEOs, board members, participants, officials, sponsors, etc. If you can define what’s important to them, prioritize those interests, issues and priorities, then you’ll be able to determine a strategy for stakeholder management.

15.01 Identify stakeholders

15.02 Assess stakeholders

15.03 Classify stakeholders

15.04 Manage stakeholder activities

15.05 Manage stakeholder relationships

H: Meeting or event design

Once the blueprint for your meeting or event is set, you color in the details with design elements. Meeting or event design elements cover a wide array of details ranging from thematic tie-ins, signage, audiovisual production, speaker selection, technology use, seating, room set-ups, food and beverage menus and program content.

16. Design program

The goals and objectives for your meeting should inform the way you program the content of your meeting or event, from its agenda pattern to the way speakers engage audiences in general, plenary or breakout sessions.

16.01 Determine program components

16.02 Select program content and delivery formats

16.03 Structure and sequence program components

17. Engage speakers and performers

17. Engage speakers and performersEducational objectives should dictate the speaker-selection criteria. Create a call for proposal, go over submissions and select candidates. Then communicate expectations, set deadlines for deliverables and secure contracts.

17.01 Determine event requirements for speakers and performers

17.02 Develop selection criteria

17.03 Select candidates

17.04 Secure contracts and communicate expectations

18. Coordinate food and beverage services

18. Coordinate food and beverage servicesAt a typical day-long event, participants are fed two to six times, including morning and afternoon breaks, receptions, breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s important to chart out how many meal functions you need to plan and understand your audience, their preferences and allergies, because that will inform your menu design and how food should be delivered. Don’t forget that meeting objectives and themes can be reinforced by the menu design, as well.

18.01 Determine food and beverage service requirements

18.02 Select menu(s)

18.03 Plan service style(s)

18.04 Select food and beverage provider(s)

18.05 Manage alcohol service

19. Design environment

19. Design environmentThe space that the meeting or event inhabits also requires design, from seating and room-sets to signage. Some of these are functional and others merely set the mood, but all are important.

19.01 Establish functional requirements

19.02. Select décor and furnishings

19.03 Coordinate meeting or event signage

20. Manage technical production

20. Manage technical productionEvery meeting room requires some kind of sound and lighting design. Other technical elements include staging, video walls, projection equipment and more. It’s important for meeting and event planners to understand the basics of technical production, even if they outsource that function onsite to a technical director, because they will be better able to communicate their needs and question the costs associated with audiovisual teams.

20.01 Determine requirements for staging and technical equipment

20.02 Acquire staging and technical equipment

20.03 Install staging and technical equipment

20.04 Oversee technical production operation

21. Develop plan for managing movement of attendees

21. Develop plan for managing movement of attendeesA crucial component of event security is ensuring participants are in a secure environment that can only be accessed with the proper credentials. In addition, planners need to consider how they’ll manage the way attendees will be physically moving from one space to another onsite. Transportation plans help planners identify how they’ll manage the movement of participants from the airport to hotel to meetings and offsite venues and if additional requirements, such as visas, might be required for attendee travel.

21.01 Develop admittance credential systems

21.02 Select crowd management techniques

21.03 Coordinate accommodation and transportation

21.04 Manage protocol requirements

I: Site management

The buildings, rooms and outdoor venues you select to house your meeting or event are known as sites. Site-selection criteria, like all other meeting design elements, should be driven by what your goals and objectives for meeting are, because the meeting/event environment can profoundly influence participants’ mood and behavior.

22. Select site

22. Select siteOutline what kind of spaces you require for each meeting, event or meal function. After you research potential candidates, send off your requests for proposals (RFPs) and create a short list of potential sites that you’d like to inspect. Once you’ve awarded your business, don’t forget to notify the other places that responded to your RFP.

22.01 Determine site specifications

22.02 Identify and inspect sites

23. Design site layout

23. Design site layoutUsing the meeting pattern and requirements, map out which spaces are best for each function. Bear in mind that you want to make it as easy as possible for attendees to travel from point A to point B and to create an experience that engages and delivers on the expectations they have for your event as well as your objectives and goals.

23.01 Design site layout

24. Manage meeting/event site
24. Manage meeting/event site

Communicate with your vendors to determine how they will implement your meeting design onsite and how long you may need to put rooms on hold to accommodate the pre-event load-in and post-event load-out.

24.01 Create logistics action plan for site set-up and take-down

24.02 Set up site

24.03 Monitor site during meeting or event

24.04 Take down site

25. Manage on-site communications

25. Manage on-site communicationsAnything can happen onsite. That’s why it’s so important to work out how you, your staff, emergency personnel, security teams and other essential contacts will stay in touch while the show is in progress. Don’t rely solely on cellular signals; they often hit dead spots indoors. Consider walkie-talkies, push-to-talk radios and other technical ways to make sure everyone you need can be found, whenever you may need to track them down.

25.01 Establish communications framework

25.02 Determine and acquire required communication equipment and resources

J: Marketing

Think of marketing as the honey that attracts people to your event. Marketing campaigns tell the story of what your event is, why people should come and creates demand. It can also create a deep human connection between your meeting participants, sponsors and exhibitors and your organization’s brand that creates loyalty and the desire to attend year after year.

26. Manage marketing plan

26. Manage marketing planThere’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all marketing plan. Just as you have multiple stakeholders, your event has multiple audiences that may want to attend. That’s why it’s important to define who those potential audience segments are, articulate what they care about and determine how you’ll reach them.

26.01 Conduct situational analysis

26.02 Define target market segments

26.03 Develop branding for meeting or event

26.04 Select marketing distribution channels

26.05 Develop integrated marketing strategy

26.06 Implement marketing plan

27. Manage marketing materials

27. Manage marketing materialsEach marketing plan requires supporting materials, each of which may need to be tailored to the demographics of your target market and the communication platform or channel you’re using.

27.01 Determine needed marketing materials for event

27.02 Develop content and design parameters

27.03 Produce marketing materials

27.04 Distribute marketing materials

28. Manage meeting/event merchandise

28. Manage meeting/event merchandiseWhether you’re organizing a product launch or selling T-shirts, any merchandise you sell onsite needs to be priced, produced and distributed appropriately.

28.01 Develop product(s) design and specifications

28.02 Determine pricing

28.03 Control brand integrity

28.04 Produce merchandise

28.05 Distribute merchandise

28.06 Coordinate hospitality

29. Promote meeting or event

29. Promote meeting or eventHow will you attract participants to your meeting or event? Which communication channels will you use to get the word out? Are there strategic partnerships you can formulate that will help you reach new audiences? Your promotional strategy may include formal advertising plans, contests, promotions and messaging you plan to use to increase registrations.

29.01 Develop advertising plan

29.02 Develop cross-promotional activities

29.03 Develop contests

29.04 Coordinate sales promotions

30. Contribute to public relations activities

Life-PreserverNo one wants to be the best-kept secret. That’s where public relation work comes in. It’s the art of getting people to talk about your meeting or event in the press, online, face-to-face in peer groups or via social media platforms. PR also has a crisis-management function, so don’t overlook its ability to smooth over a delicate situation or provide guidance during emergency situations.

30.01 Contribute to public relations strategy

30.02 Contribute to publicity plan

30.03 Develop media relations

30.04 Contribute to the implementation of a publicity plan

30.05 Manage crises and controversies

31. Manage sales activities

31. Manage sales activitiesSponsorships and exhibit tables don’t sell themselves. You need to create sales plans and objectives for how you’ll achieve your revenue goals.

31.01 Develop sales plan and objectives

31.02 Conduct sales activities

31.03 Determine sales platforms

K: Professionalism

Because meeting and event planners have purchasing power, they must be careful to always behave in an ethical, professional manner and not abuse gifts or favors from vendors or properties they don’t intend to do business with. Event planning is also one of the most stressful careers, so planners must understand how to manage stress and solve problems quickly without taking out their frustrations on other people.

32. Exhibit professional behavior
32. Exhibit professional behavior

Whether you’re a coordinator, manager or director, you’re expected to conduct yourself professionally and ethically. The quickest way to advance in your career is to further your education, so professional development and a dedication to continuous improvement play a huge role in how far you can advance.

32.01. Projecting a professional image

32.02. Demonstrate leadership

32.03. Demonstrate ethical behavior

32.04. Work with colleagues

32.05. Work in a diverse environment

32.06. Manage time

32.07. Manage stress

32.08. Professionalism – making decisions

32.09. Solve problems

32.10. Keep up to date with changes in the industry

32.11. Facilitate continuous improvement

32.12 Participate in professional development activities

L: Communication

Meeting and event planners need to have excellent verbal, nonverbal and written communication skills because they deal with so many individual meeting stakeholders and vendors. In order to effectively communicate the value of their meetings and events, they also need to know how to create effective presentations.

33. Conduct business communications

33. Conduct business communicationsThis business is built on relationships. No relationship can thrive if communication is strained, irregular or unprofessional.

33.01. Communicate verbally

33.02. Conduct business communication

33.03. Use communication tools

33.04. Make effective presentations

33.05. Plan and conduct meetings

33.06. Establish and conduct business relationships

The post The 33 skills meeting and event planners need to succeed appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Professional development: Growing you

August 17th, 2020 @

Unprecedented and incredibly difficult. That’s the 2020 in which we find ourselves. While the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the live, face-to-face meeting and event landscape, there’s some reason to be hopeful. The meeting industry thrives due to the creative innovation of its community.

Many assistants and non-titled planners have had to learn and embrace videoconferencing on a regular basis; many others have been furloughed or find themselves out of a job. However, for most of these situations, the best way to move forward is through education, professional development and acquiring/honing necessary future-proof skills.

Resources in this edition of the Professional Development Guide include an updated list of scholarship opportunities and free (or low-cost) online education. You’ll also find an introduction to the new avatar-rich Plan Your Meetings live digital events (free to planners), dive into the racial inequity in the industry and more.

Read the latest edition of the Plan Your Meetings Professional Development Guide today!

The post Professional development: Growing you appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Plan Your Meetings’ New Digital World

July 13th, 2020 @


To help combat the widespread in-person-event disruptor—the coronavirus—the Plan Your Meetings live event team is leveraging another disruptor by holding events in a virtual world.

Don’t be confused, these are not videoconference calls; these events take place in an online virtual world. No one will be able to see the real you—there’s no camera involved—they’ll only see your avatar. Confused? Watch this video for a basic overview:

Doing a test run with some other Meeting Professionals International and Plan Your Meetings staff, I was reminded—only in the most basic sense—of the first online virtual world I experienced back in 1998 (Active Worlds). That, of course, was on a dialup internet connection with jumpy-blocky graphics that took time to actually render on the screen—it was slow and the audio wasn’t very good as few people had quality microphones, but it still dazzled users as the most visually stunning virtual world yet available.

In the intervening decades, many more people have experienced and become comfortable traversing virtual worlds such as Second Life. The VirBELA Open Campus platform in which Plan Your Meetings live events will take place, however, is a huge step forward for holding interactive events in virtual worlds.

What you’ll experience “in-world”: education and one-on-one networking, as you’d encounter at any previous, in-person Plan Your Meetings live event. You walk around the various rooms and locations (with your avatar), talk with industry peers and, of course, use emotes (ways to communicate with your avatars movement, such as clapping or dancing). Perhaps the most interesting emote in this context is that of shaking hands with other avatars—when was the last time you shook someone’s hand without subsequently applying sanitizer gel? As with any hosted buyer-type program, attendance at Plan Your Meetings live virtual events are free for planners—you just need to register.

Once you register to attend a free Plan Your Meetings live virtual event, you’ll be sent all of the information needed to get started, such as instructions on downloading and installing VirBELA as well as tips to help you make the most of the experience. I recommend exploring the virtual world prior to the scheduled event so you can get accustomed to the most basic controls and options—you’ll need to build your avatar, anyhow, so after creating the look for the virtual you, just poke around. (If you don’t have time in advance to do anything beyond designing your avatar, that’s fine as you’ll get a quick tutorial at the start of the event. But if you’re totally new to virtual worlds, I strongly encourage spending a few minutes exploring in advance.)

Upcoming Dates

July 30 – Northern California

Aug. 13 – Northwest U.S.

Aug. 26 – Rocky Mountain Region

Sept. 10 – Midwest U.S.

Sept. 23 – Southern California

Oct. 8 – Texas

Oct. 22 – Northeast U.S.

Nov. 5 – Online and in-person at MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC)

Plan Your Meetings Digital Events are open to both planners and suppliers. For complete details and to register for any of these free virtual experiences, visit the Plan Your Meetings live events page.

The post Plan Your Meetings’ New Digital World appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Timing tips for effective meeting managers

June 15th, 2020 @

time management

Successful managers develop a knack for knowing the right time for making key decisions, brainstorming and conducting meetings, among many other aspects of meeting management.

When to make a key decision

Psychology professor Timothy Monk, Ph.S, D.Sc., from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, asserts that in the late morning, as your body temperature rises, along with your alertness, your brain is prime to be at its peak in processing information. Likewise, your problem-solving capabilities are enhanced at that time.

As your body temperature continues to rise, your mind is able to stay more alert. In any case, experiment with making key decisions in the late morning. Then, days and weeks later look back, and determine how well you appear to be doing.

When to make a tough decision

This “when to” is answered by offering the opposite: Don’t make a tough decision when you are hungry for food. Researchers say that when you have a difficult decision to make, put off that decision until after you’ve eaten…a great excuse to go to lunch!

Based on a study from the Columbia University Business School, good nutrition supplies the energy you need to stay refreshed and maintain clear thinking. After you’ve had a good breakfast or a decent lunch, you’re likely to be more consistent in your decision-making.

When to brainstorm for new ideas

Because you’re mentally sharp first thing in the morning, it seems like that would be an ideal time to brainstorm. However, a combined study from Albion College and Michigan State University suggests otherwise. If you want to attain fresh perspectives and creative solutions, brainstorming later in the day is likely to yield better results.

The researchers from the two colleges asked students to tackle and resolve six problems, at various hours over the course of a day. Among self-described “morning persons,” surprisingly, the most creative solutions occurred at 6 p.m. In other words, when the students were mentally tired.

The reverse was true among students who regarded themselves as “night owls.” When it came to brainstorming, they generated their most creative ideas in the morning. The takeaway from these findings: For whatever reason, when we are mentally fatigued, we’re better at creative thinking. How can this be? It seems counterintuitive, but the researchers discovered that since creative thinking requires participants to approach problems from different angles, when rested and clearheaded, participants will gravitate to the most logical solutions. Conversely, a fatigued or distracted brain generates more innovative ideas.

The takeaway: When you are rested and clearheaded, focus on tasks that require your deep concentration. When you are mentally fatigued, focus on innovative solutions to challenges you face.

When to start a scheduled internal team meeting

Begin as scheduled, regardless of who is still missing. Independent of your meeting’s length, it is necessary for you, as a meeting arranger or meeting host, to start meetings on time. This demonstrates to the stragglers that they are late and others arrived as scheduled. Organized managers start meetings on time!

Business meeting specialist Robert Levasseur suggests that at the start of any meeting, “Participants reach a common understanding of what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it.” Hence, everyone needs to be present at the start.

When to read the fine print

Unbeknownst to many—except probably eye doctors—vision fluctuates throughout the day and can be somewhat blurry in the early morning. For most people, vision sharpens after a few hours.

Thomas Friberg, chief of retina services at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, contends that your vision is most likely to be at its sharpest in the early afternoon. So, when you’ve got a stack of financial reports to wade through, you’re probably better off tackling them at 1 or 2 p.m., as opposed to 9 or 10 p.m.

When to absorb instructions and new information

When you have to absorb new information, give yourself a good chance of doing so: When it’s quiet, you can relax and can devote your attention to the matter at hand.

The following advice goes against what many might advise, but I believe a favorable time for quiet study and reflection is either before or after hours. I’ve witnessed hundreds of work environments, many incorporating cubicle culture, that are too noisy or chaotic to be conducive to learning something new.

RELATED STORY: Productivity tips for the new year

At conferences and conventions where I speak on work-life balance, harmony and integration, I have been approached by countless career professionals who tell me that they need to find refuge to concentrate. Sound familiar?

Rather than seeking to ingest new information during the workday, especially on a topic or area where you might be a newbie, or where you might otherwise be deficient, designate one night a week, perhaps at home, and spend an hour or two in deep concentration. Or, arise super early and concentrate while it’s quiet.

You might need to bone up on software or technology being used at work. You might need to become familiar with a new process. There might be new procedures for something you’ve been doing for years, but you have to handle it now in a different way.

If you have a partner, schedule your study time in advance. If you have young kids, obviously, after they are asleep gives you your safest chance. If you live alone, the hours are up to you. No particular day of the week is better than another but it’s wise to avoid Friday after work.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

A cry for equity to meeting industry leaders

June 9th, 2020 @

I haven’t written a post here in a while as I wanted to wait until I had something important to say. Today is the day.

Protestors across North America and the world are calling out for justice and equity. Police chiefs and country leaders, such as Canada’s Prime Minister, have joined them with supportive words. Some have even taken the knee. From the CEOs of Ben and Jerry’s to Salesforce to Canadian bank executives, there has been a call for racial equity.

The main focus has been to demand equity and fair treatment in policing and the social justice system, but this is just one VERY large and sharp tip of the iceberg. Let’s hope that this rallying cry is not just “the flavor of the month.” It must be followed by real and meaningful change.

Let’s take a hard look at the meeting and event industry. The lack of equity has been glaring. Black and visible minority professionals are missing from:

  • panels
  • podiums
  • leadership positions
  • planning committees
  • breakout sessions facilitation
  • lists of top industry professionals

By contrast, white professionals with less experience have no problem making those lists and receiving accolades. I addressed this glaring omission four years ago in “The Invisible Minorities of the Meeting and Event Industry.” These lists are important because out of sight is out of mind when it’s time to hire speakers, breakout session facilitators and planners.

It’s interesting that when paid engagements are available, black keynote speakers and breakout session facilitators are invisible. When it’s the time to speak for free, suddenly we glow in the dark.

For example, why is it that, despite the fact that I have blogged for major industry portals since 2011 and managed the largest group for event and meeting industry professionals, I am only ever invited to speak for free at industry conferences and events?

This is nothing personal. That is why organizations such as the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners, founded in 1983, and recognition ceremonies like Best in Black Awards exist.

As a black facilitator, speaker, and, at times, event planner, the temptation is to remain silent. To speak up means being labeled a troublemaker or an angry black woman and reducing one’s opportunities even further.

No matter what the cost, the time for silence is over for those of us who have been at the receiving end of exclusion.

At this juncture, the worst thing that organizations in our industry could do is issue a call for equity. For the most part, it would be hypocritical, and the words would ring hollow. There are, of course, some exceptions. I started to list a few organizations that have been role models but, if I do, I will leave some of them out.

This is a season to keep mouths closed, listen, learn, reflect and strategize. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau role modeled this a few days ago. He paused and reflected before he spoke. His silence was heard around the world and it added potency to his words.


Pause, listen, learn, reflect and strategize in collaboration with black industry professionals, not in a vacuum. These should not be “pick your brain for free” sessions either. Black industry professionals deserve to be compensated properly for any consulting and expertise that they provide.

When mouths are finally opened it should be to apologize and unveil a concrete plan for reparations. Reparations is a heavy word but when individuals have been excluded and their earning potential has been significantly reduced regardless of merit or competence, it’s the appropriate word.

Talk is cheap. Organizations that want to make a meaningful contribution must word their words carefully and then be sure that they are ready to put their money where their mouth is.

The post A cry for equity to meeting industry leaders appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Mental health during tumultuous times

June 1st, 2020 @


mental health

In times of tumult, it’s easy to get caught up on nearly every major issue making the news. This is an ill-advised practice.

It doesn’t matter on what side of the political spectrum you fall: These days, it’s easy to open a newspaper, surf the web, flip on the TV or tap your smartphone to find news items from around the world that are not to your liking. If this happens to you once a day, consider yourself lucky. For most people, it happens multiple times a day.

All we can do is all we can do. Become the master of your own domain and that will be fine. Open up your intellectual kimono to every issue that comes your way, and you’ll soon feel frustrated and defeated.

Perspective matters

Considering the volume of news and information, that is relevant to us, the chance of ever “staying on top of it” is nil. So, what can each of us do? Can we proceed effectively in our career and in our lives knowing that blizzard of information becomes newly available in the bat of an eyelash? Yes. Understand that everyone is the same boat and the ability to keep up is not some individual or personal failing. Virtually every fully functioning adult faces the same dilemma, continually.

Recognize that we don’t need to pay heed to every little detail that comes down the pike. Viable shortcuts exist. Some come in the way of abstracts and synopses. Some are provided to us by objective editors and writers who have studied an issue and who offer their sustained observations and opinions.

Equanimity matters

Here are four ways to maintain some semblance of equanimity throughout the course of the day, week, month, year and your career, despite the news.

  1. Pick a handful of causes or issues that you choose to follow and/or support. You can’t be on top of everything and can’t give your heart out in all directions. Narrow the field to what really matters to you and then give yourself permission to dive deeply into those issues.
  2. Don’t waste any time sparring online with others or trying to convince anybody else of your viewpoint when it’s clear that they’ve already dug in their heels. It’s fine for people to arrive at consensus, but it’s a mutual process. If one party is too heavily invested in achieving a particular outcome, when the other is not, pretty much nothing is going to happen.
  3. Give yourself a recurring rest from current events. That in turn helps to alleviate some of your stress and anxiety. You’ve likely got decades to go in this life. You don’t want to dissipate too much more of your time on issues upon which you can do nothing. Pick your spots, stay true to your interests, and recognize that it will be all right. You can take time away from the information maelstrom. There is no cosmic scoreboard detailing whether or not you’ve kept pace hour by hour or day by day. You deserve a break today. Give yourself some time without tuning in.
  4. Recognize that breaking news, as well as fads and what is currently trending, has a way of going by the wayside quickly. Rather than get caught up in the minutia of popular culture, focus on long-term trends.
  • Where is humanity heading?
  • What will the health be of the typical adult 10 years from now?
  • What major milestones are likely to be accomplished within the next decade?

By focusing on the long-term, rather than just fads or current events, you give yourself the opportunity to consider the affairs of humanity from a better vantage point.

The time in your life

From a practical standpoint, by focusing on the long-term you also free up the amount of time you have on a given day. Who among us has unlimited amounts of time to be pulled into this story, and that feature and this argument, and so on, ad infinitum?

Our lives are finite whereas the issues to which we could be exposed know no end. It’s time to pay homage to a mere handful of issues that resonate with you and to have the mental and emotional strength to leave the rest.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Give interruptions the brush off

May 12th, 2020 @

This might come as a shock to you, but most of the interruptions you experience in the course of the day are self-induced. How so? Either you invited them and actually encouraged them to happen, or you failed to safeguard your spaces and places so that interruptions became likely.

Invited it to happen?

Anytime you proceed throughout the course of the work day, after work, and on weekends, with your cell phone nearby and the ringer ‘on,’ you are inviting an interruption. It might be one that you desire, such as to know who’s calling you. Still, you are the one who is in control of that immediate environment.

With perhaps 9 out of 10 calls that you receive, it’s not important to field them in real time. If you casually look at your phone, see who has called, and return when you choose to, chances are everything will be fine. The exception occurs when you’re waiting for a specific call and that’s a different case altogether. At such times, by all means, turn up the volume on your ringer.

RELATED STORY: 21 ways to gauge your work-life balance

For most of the rest of the calls you receive throughout the day or week, you don’t need to have your ringer on. ‘Vibrate’ works for some people, but even that can be disruptive. I suggest you put your phone on ‘mute’ so that no sound is made. If you can’t do this during the workday, at least do it after hours, on weekends, or when your time is completely your own. You’ll appreciate the quiet and the uninterrupted stretches of time that you now have to get things done, or to simply relax.

Failing to safeguard your places and spaces

The second variety of interruptions are those that you’ve helped to have happened. This occurs when you do not take precautions when at work, or at home. The classic way to safeguard your space at work is to simply close your office door. If you work at a cubicle, post a sign that says under deadline or can’t be disturbed.

At home or when out and about, safeguard your space by muting your phone, as discussed above. Also, turn away from the main traffic arteries. If you are on a path that everyone takes, then obviously, the interruptions that you incur will be greater than if you were along some less traveled path.

At work, many places offer quiet, uninterrupted stretches – an empty conference room, a rooftop terrace, or a table in the back of the corporate cafeteria, far from all the other tables. When the weather permits, a park bench could work to your advantage. Even sitting in your car, depending on your task, could work well. In other words, you often have options to keep noise and intrusions from invading your space.

RELATED STORY: 5 considerations for online events in 2020

The fast-forward future

As the world turns, particularly during the work day, the volume of interruptions you’re likely to encounter will increase. Knowing that this is likely part of your future, what steps will you take today to minimize the noise to which you are subjected, to safeguard your spaces, and to work where others are not likely to intrude upon you?

The quality of your life and career is defined, in part, by how you limit interruptions. No one is coming to help you with this task; you handle and resolve the issue. You have the capability, fortunately, to take charge and give interruptions to brush off.

The post Give interruptions the brush off appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Free coronavirus-related webinars (May 2020)

May 4th, 2020 @

woman webinar

To help educate professionals during this unprecedented crisis and to help prepare them for the inevitable recovery, many industry groups are amping up their online offerings and making them freely available, as the MPI Academy has done for much of its content.

Following are some excellent, live online programs throughout May 2020. If you miss the original live broadcast, still click through as you’ll likely be able to view the recording. These are free but require registration.

U.S. Travel launched a new weekly webinar series that looks toward the recovery of our industry and the broader economy, focusing on the guidance, data and traveler sentiment necessary to safely restoring travel and tourism in the U.S.

All of these live webinars take place 12-1 p.m. EST on the dates listed

May 7

“Addressing Uncertainty Through Safety: New Guidance for the Industry”

May 8

Meeting Executive Re-Think Tank on Lessons Learned & Continued Impact

May 13

Avoiding Burnout and Managing Stress

May 14

Reduce Stress from Meeting Planning by Knowing Who to Trust

May 14

Back-to-Normal Barometer

May 21                                        

Accessing Recovery: The Three Legs of Research

May 21

The Work From Home Revolution

May 26

Risk Management Planning

May 27

Leading Your Organization, From Any Level, During a Time of Crisis

May 28

No Time Like the Present …Taking Your Meetings Virtual

And some educational webinars that have already taken place, but are archived and available at no cost:


The post Free coronavirus-related webinars (May 2020) appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

In need of a distraction

April 15th, 2020 @


Between the non-stop coronavirus updates, inexhaustible news stories and self-isolation at home (with work, kids, home schooling, etc.), it wouldn’t be a surprise if you were in desperate need for a fun, mindless or comic distraction. Your mind and emotional state will thank you for the respite.

If you think some quiet time and mediation would help, there are numerous apps from which to choose. One is Calm, which currently offers a variety of COVID-19 channels. For those with minds that are hard to quiet, Calm might take some practice. For others, it’s a nice option for a bit of peace and quiet. Calm even has a channel for kids—if you’re able to pull them away from Animal Crossing: New Horizons!

Speaking of kids, live feeds from a number of zoos and aquariums can be fun for the entire family or the individual who needs to zone out for a few. Choose from the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, the Cincinnati Zoo and the Smithsonian National, for starters. Don’t see one here with lots of activity? Try a Google search and enough options will pop up to give you a new stream to try every day.

Miss visiting museums during the lockdown? Try a virtual tour of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam or the Guggenheim in New York. There are many options—start with these 12.

Maybe the sounds of waves are more your cup of tea. Then check out live beach cams, available for live streams of picturesque water from all over the globe. If all you have is a few minutes between conference calls or emails, then try the Moments of Nature, mostly two-minute videos of nothing but, well just nature. If a few minutes simply isn’t enough of a distraction, offers numerous live streams of animals and scenery.

If your distraction requires more civilization, but just a bit more, try the live streams of trains. It takes some waiting, but the payoff is worth it. And if you can’t wait, then pretend you are the railroad engineer in the cab with this live feed of a locomotive crossing Norway (no, this is not a joke).

A no brainer, of course, is YouTube. So many views to choose from, you may get overwhelmed. From recorded cat videos to live feeds to TV shows and more. Some of it’s free and some of it costs. What’s your sanity worth?

Lastly, if this “new normal” makes you feel as if you’re no longer on planet earth, check out the live feed from the International Space Station. That’ll give you all the distraction you need.

Now that you’ve had a taste of the world outside of your home, maybe focus on no- and low-cost online professional development opportunities!

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Category : Blog and Industry News