Give interruptions the brush off

Posted 1 week, 6 days ago @

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)

Posted 3 weeks ago @

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 @

cat-straction

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, explore.org 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!

The post In need of a distraction appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

5 considerations for online events in 2020

April 13th, 2020 @

virtual handshakeIn 2020, we’ve seen a massive shift in how events are being managed and delivered.

For event managers today, it’s no longer just about providing content such as a series of talks, sessions or seminars, it’s also about the attendee experience.

Event planning technologies have played a crucial role in these developments; tools such as online ticketing, remote registration and real-time interpretation have all added to the overall experience.

The more event managers are able to cater to the needs of attendees and provide them with ways to better engage, the more valuable and memorable the event will be.

And that’s just it. The focus now is on improving attendee engagement. The success of an event isn’t measured just by how many people attend but also whether those people felt involved.

According to our 2020 Event Industry Trends report, of the 106 event managers we surveyed, more than three-quarters (78%) highlighted that attendees expect new ways of interacting with each other and speakers.

But what methods should event managers be considering in 2020?

 1. Chat and connect with attendees and speakers

During the online event, attendees want to be able to communicate with each other, ask questions and engage with speakers. They want to get answers to their questions, actively participate (rather than just listen) and make new connections.

To achieve this, some events set up chat groups via communication applications, such as Slack, or have their own dedicated chat solution. This enables attendees to readily communicate with each other (whether it’s to talk about the event, ask questions or connect) and for event managers and speakers to provide answers or updates in real time.

RELATED STORY: Livestreaming options for meetings

2. Real-time personalization

Not only does real-time chat improve engagement, it also provides event managers with crucial insight; they can see the questions attendees have and how they felt about the event. This information can then be used to personalize aspects of the event (i.e. what updates and content the attendee receives) for attendees.

3. Diversity

According to our research report, almost two-thirds of event managers (64%) agree that events are far more diverse than they were five years ago. More and more people from different backgrounds are coming together to learn, share and collaborate.

And audiences will only continue to diversify—but all too often, events are offered in a single language or fail to consider the audience’s diversity.

But what does this mean for event managers? Diversity and inclusion are necessary, so event managers need to ensure attendees feel included and engaged.

4. Remove language barriers

To increase event attendance and reception, removing barriers to entry is crucial.

When we talk about “barriers to entry,” we don’t mean physical barriers, we mean language options and the diversity of speakers. For example, let’s say the speakers for an event only speak English, but people from Germany, France and Spain want to attend because they believe the content is valuable.

In this instance, the event manager needs to provide real-time translation services so that non-English-speaking attendees can participate, too. If prior to registration potential attendees see that the content will be offered in their native language, they’ll be much more likely to sign up.

That said, many event managers are reluctant to hire interpreters for their events—not because they don’t want to but because of prohibitive costs. According to our report, almost half (46%) stated that their biggest challenge when organizing interpreter services was the cost.

RELATED STORY: Livestreaming checklist

online

5. Expert speaker panel

It’s important to avoid unconscious bias in the speaker selection process. Consider doing it “blind”; this means evaluating speaker proposals without any kind of identifying information attached.

This should lead to speakers being chosen on the merit of their work, rather than their nationality, background, sexual orientation, age or gender, and put a greater emphasis on the quality of content.

Attendees don’t just want to hear from five men of the same nationality, background and age—they want to hear a range of opinions. If attendees see a varied speaker panel, they’ll be more likely to attend. The more diverse the speaker panel, the more experiences and opinions offered.

The post 5 considerations for online events in 2020 appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Social media as a positive platform

March 30th, 2020 @

online options

“Social media is not going away. It is a business tool, it can be an incredible place to find strength but it can be dark. I am organizing a conference on how to handle social media as a positive platform. I can’t wait to share it with you soon.”

That quickly deleted Instagram post by stylist Jessica Mulroney drummed up a flurry of intrigue with online royal watchers in January, theorizing that the note’s removal indicates a surprise appearance by Duchess Meghan Markle. Whether or not the Suits actress signs on to the event as a speaker doesn’t much matter for our purposes, but the overall tale highlights the oftentimes toxic landscape of social media as well as its importance as a business tool.

And now that so many meeting professionals find themselves at home, exercising extreme social distancing, many without active events on which to work, some no longer employed, perhaps obsessively searching for and scanning coronavirus news on Twitter, it’s prime time to focus on your professional education—you can only watch so many hours (or days) of Netflix before that leisure activity becomes a chore.

So here we go again. Decades into social media’s communication takeover, many meeting professionals still need to learn the proper uses of the various social media platforms and hone skills in what author, futurist and artist Howard Rheingold terms “crap detection.”

Even though social media is fluid with new rules, mores, opportunities and threats swirling around seemingly every day, one trend I’ve seen over the past decade is that the best published guidance for effective social media use has remained evergreen. More specifically, the most basic social media communications concepts are just as valid and important to learn now as they were 10 years ago. Sadly, many users continue to dive into social media—and claim fluency in that domain—while ignorant to these essential lessons.

Here are four important elements of social media in which all professionals should be fluent—with links for those seeking a refresher.

Get your facts straight

Fake news—both well-meaning yet erroneous and propagandic in nature—is enjoying a golden age thanks to the easy-to-share nature of social media. Sadly, the art of fact-checking is not receiving the same love. Not only must event professionals be able to communicate with stakeholders clearly and correctly via social media, they must also know how to deal with disinformation online. In Net Smart: How to Thrive Online, Rheingold shares sage wisdom to help readers develop authentic digital literacy and critical thinking skills (“crap detection”), with the hopeful goal/promise similar to that of any good meeting or event: to produce a more thoughtful society. (Those really wanting to get into the weeds of digital communication theory should explore the materials for Rheingold’s past courses at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.)

RELATED STORY: What Meeting Planners Have Learned from a Decade of Social Media

Trolls!

Some of the disinformation encountered online comes from these jerks of chaos. In short, the goal of a troll is to disrupt, distract and cause grief. How you respond/react to trolls can affect the tone and quality of your event. Consider this hypothetical: Your keynote speaker engaged your community via Twitter in advance of your event, seeking to identify their most under-served pain points. A couple of valid responses are posted, then a random user chimes in to denigrate the physical appearance of the speaker…then moves on to abuse the other respondents. The valuable pre-event back-and-forth has been hijacked. Suddenly, there’s a negative taste tied to your event and the quality of community feedback disintegrates, all thanks to an anonymous digital heckler. In general, the best approach to a troll is to block/report the account and do not engage—ignore the petulant child. Hootsuite offers some excellent additional insight on how to deal with trolls.

RELATED STORY: 6 B2B social media marketing tips for eventprofs

eyes online

Where’s the strategy?

You develop strategies for every aspect of your meeting/event, so why don’t you have a social media strategy? This begins with deciding upon a social media policy—guidance (sometimes simple recommendations, sometimes enforceable with penalties) for staff, partners and/or attendees to ensure communication is respectful and on-brand. In “Open Door Policy,” I explored the reasons for and against having a robust social media policy. Although published 10 years ago, the lessons shared in that article are just as important and overlooked by meeting professionals today. (Go here to read an updated version that also provides 0.25 hours of continuing education credits.) Once you’re past the policy question, move on to the nitty gritty of your social media strategy—Hootsuite has a PowerPoint template for that.

RELATED STORY: 10 lessons for creating social media videos

Is this what ROI looks like?

Early discussions about the ROI of social media were a bit ephemeral in nature. How can you quantify the value of your activities on the various platforms? The ah-ha moment for me came with the understanding that you define how to gauge the success of your own social media actions—there’s no singular metric that applies to every organization or event. A valid entry point to this topic is “Untangling the Value of Social Media,” my own initial foray into the social media ROI discussion.

The post Social media as a positive platform appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Social media as a positive platform

March 30th, 2020 @

online options

“Social media is not going away. It is a business tool, it can be an incredible place to find strength but it can be dark. I am organizing a conference on how to handle social media as a positive platform. I can’t wait to share it with you soon.”

That quickly deleted Instagram post by stylist Jessica Mulroney drummed up a flurry of intrigue with online royal watchers in January, theorizing that the note’s removal indicates a surprise appearance by Duchess Meghan Markle. Whether or not the Suits actress signs on to the event as a speaker doesn’t much matter for our purposes, but the overall tale highlights the oftentimes toxic landscape of social media as well as its importance as a business tool.

And now that so many meeting professionals find themselves at home, exercising extreme social distancing, many without active events on which to work, some no longer employed, perhaps obsessively searching for and scanning coronavirus news on Twitter, it’s prime time to focus on your professional education—you can only watch so many hours (or days) of Netflix before that leisure activity becomes a chore.

So here we go again. Decades into social media’s communication takeover, many meeting professionals still need to learn the proper uses of the various social media platforms and hone skills in what author, futurist and artist Howard Rheingold terms “crap detection.”

Even though social media is fluid with new rules, mores, opportunities and threats swirling around seemingly every day, one trend I’ve seen over the past decade is that the best published guidance for effective social media use has remained evergreen. More specifically, the most basic social media communications concepts are just as valid and important to learn now as they were 10 years ago. Sadly, many users continue to dive into social media—and claim fluency in that domain—while ignorant to these essential lessons.

Here are four important elements of social media in which all professionals should be fluent—with links for those seeking a refresher.

Get your facts straight

Fake news—both well-meaning yet erroneous and propagandic in nature—is enjoying a golden age thanks to the easy-to-share nature of social media. Sadly, the art of fact-checking is not receiving the same love. Not only must event professionals be able to communicate with stakeholders clearly and correctly via social media, they must also know how to deal with disinformation online. In Net Smart: How to Thrive Online, Rheingold shares sage wisdom to help readers develop authentic digital literacy and critical thinking skills (“crap detection”), with the hopeful goal/promise similar to that of any good meeting or event: to produce a more thoughtful society. (Those really wanting to get into the weeds of digital communication theory should explore the materials for Rheingold’s past courses at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.)

RELATED STORY: What Meeting Planners Have Learned from a Decade of Social Media

Trolls!

Some of the disinformation encountered online comes from these jerks of chaos. In short, the goal of a troll is to disrupt, distract and cause grief. How you respond/react to trolls can affect the tone and quality of your event. Consider this hypothetical: Your keynote speaker engaged your community via Twitter in advance of your event, seeking to identify their most under-served pain points. A couple of valid responses are posted, then a random user chimes in to denigrate the physical appearance of the speaker…then moves on to abuse the other respondents. The valuable pre-event back-and-forth has been hijacked. Suddenly, there’s a negative taste tied to your event and the quality of community feedback disintegrates, all thanks to an anonymous digital heckler. In general, the best approach to a troll is to block/report the account and do not engage—ignore the petulant child. Hootsuite offers some excellent additional insight on how to deal with trolls.

RELATED STORY: 6 B2B social media marketing tips for eventprofs

eyes online

Where’s the strategy?

You develop strategies for every aspect of your meeting/event, so why don’t you have a social media strategy? This begins with deciding upon a social media policy—guidance (sometimes simple recommendations, sometimes enforceable with penalties) for staff, partners and/or attendees to ensure communication is respectful and on-brand. In “Open Door Policy,” I explored the reasons for and against having a robust social media policy. Although published 10 years ago, the lessons shared in that article are just as important and overlooked by meeting professionals today. (Go here to read an updated version that also provides 0.25 hours of continuing education credits.) Once you’re past the policy question, move on to the nitty gritty of your social media strategy—Hootsuite has a PowerPoint template for that.

RELATED STORY: 10 lessons for creating social media videos

Is this what ROI looks like?

Early discussions about the ROI of social media were a bit ephemeral in nature. How can you quantify the value of your activities on the various platforms? The ah-ha moment for me came with the understanding that you define how to gauge the success of your own social media actions—there’s no singular metric that applies to every organization or event. A valid entry point to this topic is “Untangling the Value of Social Media,” my own initial foray into the social media ROI discussion.

The post Social media as a positive platform appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Anxiety is anxious times

March 23rd, 2020 @

stress anxiety

I turned 50 years old last year. Leading up to the milestone birthday, I found myself getting angrier and angrier by the day. Just about everything made me mad. To rescue me from divorce, I agreed with my spouse to see a therapist. Turns out I was anxious. Very anxious.

The therapy proved helpful and I learned a great deal about anxiety. I’m reminded about what the therapist and I discussed as I hunker down and prepare to ride out the COVID-19 crisis, along with the rest of my friends, colleagues and co-workers, who make up the meeting industry—a vital aspect our work, our community and our economy.

Breathe

One of my biggest challenges was learning to breathe. Breathing is a blessing. I know, we’re all breathing all the time, but to focus on it takes skill. At least for me. It also helps. Tremendously. It gives me time to think, reflect and contemplate how threatening my situation is. Just how dangerous is it standing in the checkout line at Harris Teeter? How threatening is turning 50 years old?

Breathing lets me focus and look for positive elements, things to be grateful for. It’s also healthier. It helps slow my pulse, reduce my blood pressure and gain a different perspective. Once or twice, I have erupted in laughter when I realized how irrational my anger had been.

I’m not an emotional or medical specialist, but in a nutshell, anxiety is a life-saving predisposition that’s part of our ingrained fight-or-flight instinct. Without it, we humans might not have survived long enough to reach today.

zebras running

In the wild, a zebra munching on grass in the African plain, is calm and anxiety-free. Until he senses the nearby lion, crouched and ready to pounce. Then the zebra’s anxiety level spikes and off he darts, his flight response robotically engaging. When he evades the threat, when the lion gives up the chase, the zebra goes back to his vegetarian meal and his anxiety level returns to zero, his tail unconsciously swatting at harmless flies.

Unlike wild animals, human anxiety levels don’t always work that fittingly. Sometimes when we perceive a threat, be it legit or not, our anxiousness grows. The complexity of our lives—work, family, bills, health, traffic congestion—can trigger responses that make mundane or routine things feel threatening and propel our angst soaring.

Act as if you’re already infected

With the novel coronavirus, it certainly feels like we’re being threatened, right? You might expect some anxiety. Co-mingle that with a rush on toilet paper, Purell and frozen foods and you might feel like a zebra being hunted by a lion. However, experts say don’t panic, stay calm, act as if you’re already infected.

We still have some control. Following COVID-19 protocols is important. By doing so, we actually reduce the threat. Less threat equals less anxiety. Cut back on media. Leaving CNN on while reading The Washington Post while trolling Facebook hurts in at least two ways: reduces focus and increases anxiety. Stick with limited resources. I recommend the CDC for coronavirus news/updates and one or two local media outlets, to keep abreast of updates in your community. If you need industry-related updates, check out MPI’s page dedicated to novel coronavirus news and resources.

Help fight off the feeling of isolation by staying in touch with friends and family, be it via Facetime, Google Hangout or a simple phone call. I rang my cousin, Ian, who lives in a Boston suburb, and felt relief just knowing someone else shares some of the same worries, even if he is more than 900 miles away. But seeing someone else’s face can make an immense difference. And not just for you.

Don’t forget to move. We’re prone to sit, especially at home or at a desk. Get the blood flowing and increase those endorphins. Try not to think of this as isolation, but as “me” time or a chance to look for new opportunities or tackle chores. This coronavirus might be with us for a bit, so keep the creative juices flowing.

You have a large community to lean on and we’re all experiencing some frustration, challenges and tribulations, but in an arena with lots of patience, inspiration and knowledge. Don’t let it go to waste. Anxiety can be unhealthy, so don’t let it control you. We’ll get through this.

In the meantime, remember to breathe.

 

The post Anxiety is anxious times appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Coronavirus: Suppliers’ View

March 9th, 2020 @

Last month, I deployed a survey for MPI of meeting professionals (planners and suppliers) to gauge the concern related to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and its impact on the meeting and event industry. (You can see those complete results here.)

Most recently, we wrapped a subsequent survey specific to the experiences and opinions of industry suppliers re: the impact of this virus. In the field between March 3-5, the survey had 217 respondents. Here’s what we found.

Cancellations

cancellations

Notably, in mid-February, 80% of respondents said their meetings/events had not been affected by the virus. This time around, we specifically asked about cancellations (a big step up from simply “affected”) and 73% of suppliers said they have encountered these as a result of the virus.

Business impact

business impact

Here, we see that 65% of suppliers expect less business in 2020 thanks to the novel coronavirus; 26% believe they’ll have more business as a result.

Concerncoronavirus concern

A total 95% of suppliers are concerned about the business impact of the novel coronavirus. Last month, 90% of meeting professionals were concerned.

Duration of impact

Understanding that most industry suppliers aren’t virology futurists, we still sought to hear opinions on the anticipated duration of the virus’ impact on meetings and events.

duration of impact

Most notably, 70% of respondents believe our industry will be affected for 1-6 months; 3% think it’ll be wrapped up in April; 15% believe its impact will stick around at least through the end of 2020.

Sales strategies

sales strategies

Yes, 49% of suppliers indicate their sales strategies have not changed as a result of the novel coronavirus. However, that means more than half of all respondents are changing their sales strategies. How?

14% – Limiting international travel

9% – Offering greater discounts or complimentary amenities/services

8% – Shifting to remote calls with clients rather than in-person meetings

8% – Limiting involvement at trade shows and professional events

 

More surveys on this evolving topic are likely in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned to Plan Your Meetings as well as MPI’s dedicated novel coronavirus page.

The post Coronavirus: Suppliers’ View appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

What do meeting planners truly want?

February 18th, 2020 @

When retaining speakers to present at their conference or convention, meeting planners must tread very carefully. Picking the wrong speaker for an event can have disastrous consequences. If it’s a day-long event and five speakers are scheduled to present, if even one of them says something inappropriate, it can dominate the event in ways that no one would prefer to have happened. Worse, the off-remark might call into question your judgment.

It behooves speakers to rely upon veterans, those who have presented to dozens, if not hundreds of groups. Speakers who know the ropes and know what it takes to deliver with impact, are highly professional at all times. They go on their way to ensure that the meeting planner feels comfortable and confident that their presentation will be well-received.

Beyond the above, here are four factors that add up to success for both the meeting planner and the speaker:

Having a timely topic

The reason that a particular speaker is brought in at a certain time is because of the speaker’s wisdom, knowledge, and information that will benefit the group.

Even if a speaker is a humorist, or someone who is simply hired to entertain the audience, that speaker is still bringing with them knowledge and information, in the form of how they’re going to deliver, how they will pace themselves, understanding of the audience, and so forth.

RELATED STORY: 6 event planning mistakes that will destroy your budget

Offering a dynamic presentation

No one, meeting planners most of all, wants to have a speaker who delivers an off-the-shelf presentation, something the speaker said to the last group, and the group before that, etc. Sure, a speaker will draw upon an established body of material but it has to be, at the least, tailored to the group.

What challenges do audience members face? What has happened recently? What will be of concern after this meeting is over? The dynamic speaker takes into account such factors and delivers accordingly.

Interacting with the audience

Increasingly, meeting planners seek presenters who have an affinity for the audience. They’re not afraid of give-and-take. They might even step down from the stage and wander a bit throughout the hall. They encourage participation. They ask questions, pose dilemmas, and elicit responses.

Not all presentations, for all purposes, lend themselves to interaction with the audience. For those that do, however, interaction can be a notable, even memorable factor for audience members, who have sat in front of one staid delivery after another.

RELATED STORY: The 33 skills meeting and event planners need to succeed

Being succinct

All meetings have an agenda, whether tight or loose, written down, or verbally offered. At some point, a meeting must end, just as an individual presentation must end. Speakers who stay on time, even if their time has been chopped, and end at the original designated ending time, do everyone a favor: Get the meeting back on course!

The seasoned speaker, on the fly, knows how to convert what was scheduled to be a 45-minute presentation into what now has to be a 32-minute presentation, and has the ability to do so without the audience knowing the difference. This speaker doesn’t complain or wince, and he or she stands up and delivers and ends on the button, having done the job.

The post What do meeting planners truly want? appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

5 tips for evaluating safety during site selection

February 4th, 2020 @

magnifying glass

Safety is a big topic and covers a lot of different elements. The thought of it is often enough to make even the most experienced meeting planner want to change careers. How does snake charmer sound?

There’s cyber security, crisis communication, public relations scenarios and emergency response planning. It doesn’t help that we’re under constant barrage of scary news on nearly every screen we set eyes upon, usually displaying nothing more than mere seconds of loud noise and scandalous photographs. It’s not enough to get details, but just the right amount of prattle to set our nerves on edge.

There’s good news, however. Our brains don’t really know the difference between a real fear and a fake one, so although we think there’s lots of stuff to worry about, it’s not as bad as the 24-hour news cycle makes it seem. You are far more likely to have someone at your conference suffer a medical issue, such as a cardiac event, or a minor accident, such as a trip and fall, than you are an active shooter. It’s all about preventing or mitigating the most probable concerns.

That means at least one item under the safety umbrella will be a bit easier for you to prepare for: physical safety. A rule of meeting safety is ensuring the space, facility or venue is free from harm and offers components and measures that keep it free from harm.

We, as planners, can prepare for bad things to happen. As a matter of fact, we even have the power to prevent or mitigate some of them. Starting with our site selection, we can begin the process of helping to keep our attendees safer.

Here are a few simple things to do during your next hotel or venue selection.

1) Ask about safety in your RFP

Most venues won’t release their safety or emergency plans for reasons of liability and/or confidentiality—but mentioning your interest in emergency plans, in your RFP, indicates you take safety seriously. Just a few sentences are all it takes, asking how the venue responds to emergencies and how they handle onsite incidents.

RELATED STORY: Lack of planning won’t avert an emergency

2) Include safety staff at the walk-through

Planners are used to being guided around a property by sales staff, banquet folks and conference service managers. Next time, request that someone from hotel security go along with you for the stroll. It is a great time for the venue to point out emergency exits, fire extinguishers, describe how the hotel meets local and state codes and regulations and even talk about the venue’s emergency action plans.

3) Ask about first responders

As you’re checking out the meeting space and the guest rooms, ask which hospital is the nearest, what police agency has jurisdiction and where the hotel’s access points are for fire trucks, ambulances and other first responders. These are area you want to be free of charter buses, delivery trucks and the like. The time is also ripe to ask about future building and road construction, which could block easy in-and-out access.

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4) Access points and access points

Ask about security cameras and security staffing (how are they identified? Do they go through background checks and training?) and see if lighting is adequate in parking garages, outdoor function space and other places your attendees might visit after nightfall. See what parts of the venue are only accessible with keys and what areas get locked up at night.

Access also includes first responders and other help. They need to have outdoor areas to park vehicles, doors that will open when they pull the handle and as few obstacles as possible to reach the person (or persons) in need.

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5) Ask about back of house

Although some venues might not let you have access to view back of house areas, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Make sure they agree to make hallways free of clutter and items that might hinder an emergency exit or provide a hiding place to unauthorized people. If the food service area or kitchens have to meet certain local health codes or regulations, confirm that they do, either by visual inspection or written certification.

Don’t forget to include ADA compliance in your walk thru and confirm the venue is prepared to assist with any attendees that might have special needs during an evacuation.

RELATED STORY: 9 ADA-related questions we must be asking venues

Knowing these tips, you just might organically begin to ask other safety questions to help make sure you’ve chosen a site that’s both safe and secure.

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