#EventCanvas FTW!

May 13th, 2019 @

EventCanvas-scroll

For three days at the tail end of February, I joined a couple of dozen meeting professionals—all either from Caesars Entertainment or invited by that organization—in a window-filled room beside the High Roller in Las Vegas to learn how to plan with the #EventCanvas.

I walked in curious and skeptical—my base approach to most things. Not a fan of boring social ice breakers, this gathering with, primarily, strangers proved early on to be different, with compelling approaches to inter-personal communication and brainstorming. I drew a cartoon character I created as a child to represent me. This segued into a brief, unexpectedly personal discussion about the character’s origins and suddenly these strangers knew me better than many people I see daily.

Once I realized how significantly different this introduction was compared to, well, every instance of professional education in which I’ve participated, my natural skeptic shell began to soften. “I still don’t totally understand how these Dutch guys are going to use some sort of formula and graphical charts to suss out the best and most appropriate event goals,” I thought…but benefit of the doubt was starting to be supplanted by successful first-person experiences.

The “Dutch guys” referenced are Roel Frissen and Ruud Janssen, creators of the #EventCanvas methodology and this Event Design program—the goal of which, for most, is to earn the CED designation.

RELATED STORY: The effects of meeting space design

Introductions aside, we learn the bones of the process, marveling as Frissen and Janssen transform a large paper scroll taped to the floor into a visual event roadmap. Each step for each of the various stakeholders is right there, complete with directional arrows, illustrations representing actions, locations and desired behavioral changes—and more. Then we boarded a cabin on the High Roller for each participant to pitch an event—real or hypothetical. Two were selected and would be the armature around which our work for the coming days would revolve.

The very full Day 1 came to a close around 5 p.m., yet there was still some uncertainty in my mind about how this whole thing could work.

“Trust the process,” Frissen told me as we chatted while packing up for the day.

Rather than become overwhelmed with questions and lingering elements I didn’t yet thoroughly understand, I metaphorically threw my arms in the air and resigned to the fact that in the morning, I’d be closer to my goal of complete understanding.

EventCanvas

Day 2 was incredibly busy in smaller groups. Having selected the two events to design, the room was split into two groups—one for each event—and then those groups were further split into smaller factions, each tasked with plotting the event experience for specific stakeholders.

At one point, we were all instructed to split up into pairs to prototype ideas. I felt confident about the activity until speaking with my partner—she understood our task to be something different. Seeking clarity from Frissen, my partner seemed reassured; I was now confused. The task was to just last a few minutes, so I again metaphorically threw my arms in the air and we got down to business. As our group reconvened, it sounded as though each pair had a slightly different understanding of what we were tasked with achieving prior to going over our mental output together. Before my mind completed the thought, “Oh crap, we wasted those prototyping minutes,” a connection was made. All the parts were somehow coming together. One pair discussed a specific event component and their thoughts about it…suddenly the misdirected prototyping I’d done fit it! Yes, I got excited because the seemingly disparate pieces were coming together. Quickly. This all seemed much more than serendipity. When Frissen walked by to ask how we were doing, I surely acted like a school kid who finally understood a pesky algebra formula.

The level of detail can be overwhelming if you focus on the vast expanse of everything needed to structure a successful event and, of course, the prospect of mapping it out in two days. Dedicating set amounts of time to focus on each of the countless tasks involved in planning an event, and then moving on in an orderly fashion to the next task, indeed seemed to resolve the anxiety of too much. This process certainly saves time, as well as stress, in the long run—but don’t get me wrong, this was a long, mentally exhausting day. Longer than Day 1. The progress was evidenced by the oversized Post-it-covered sheets labelled “Empathy Map” and “Prototyping Area” covering the walls and windows in the meeting room, hallway and outdoor patio.

RELATED STORY: 7 ways to flex your creative muscles

Participant chat over dinner at Mr. Chow revealed the need for some cognitive rest prior to the upcoming, concluding day. I was becoming slap happy.

After some coffee/tea, the activity began swiftly on Day 3, each group picking up right where it had left off. Day by day, more ah-ha moments manifested, sometimes seemingly out of the blue. More clarity and more exhaustion. By that afternoon, we’d created thorough Event Canvases for two very different events, including video walkthroughs shared on WhatsApp to explain the desired—and anticipated—event experience for each of the stakeholders. “How would you like the behavior of so-and-so to change once the event is over, and how will you accomplish that? Well, it’s all (or mostly) right here!”

Having gone through the process, I realized that my feelings/instincts of curiosity and skepticism formed a significant piece of my Entering Behavior—the “baggage” or notions that I brought into the Event Design experience—and it’s likely that the event facilitators had mapped out the possibility of a participant coming into this program with these exact thoughts. After three days of active education, I walked out of this experience—my Exiting Behavior—wowed and converted from skeptic to evangelist. I recognized this same sort of change in some other participants—that shining ah-ha clarity in the eyes is a giveaway. As I think back, I’m still unsure how exactly that transformation happened, but I’m a now unquestionably a believer in the formulas established by Frissen and Janssen—the #EventCanvas process is an effective blend of structure and freedom.

 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a skeptic, the Event Design Certificate program will fundamentally—and positively—alter your planning process. Learn more as the number of Event Design certificate programs is growing, and they’re taking place all over the world!

The post #EventCanvas FTW! appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

#EventCanvas FTW!

May 13th, 2019 @

EventCanvas-scroll

For three days at the tail end of February, I joined a couple of dozen meeting professionals—all either from Caesars Entertainment or invited by that organization—in a window-filled room beside the High Roller in Las Vegas to learn how to plan with the #EventCanvas.

I walked in curious and skeptical—my base approach to most things. Not a fan of boring social ice breakers, this gathering with, primarily, strangers proved early on to be different, with compelling approaches to inter-personal communication and brainstorming. I drew a cartoon character I created as a child to represent me. This segued into a brief, unexpectedly personal discussion about the character’s origins and suddenly these strangers knew me better than many people I see daily.

Once I realized how significantly different this introduction was compared to, well, every instance of professional education in which I’ve participated, my natural skeptic shell began to soften. “I still don’t totally understand how these Dutch guys are going to use some sort of formula and graphical charts to suss out the best and most appropriate event goals,” I thought…but benefit of the doubt was starting to be supplanted by successful first-person experiences.

The “Dutch guys” referenced are Roel Frissen and Ruud Janssen, creators of the #EventCanvas methodology and this Event Design program—the goal of which, for most, is to earn the CED designation.

RELATED STORY: The effects of meeting space design

Introductions aside, we learn the bones of the process, marveling as Frissen and Janssen transform a large paper scroll taped to the floor into a visual event roadmap. Each step for each of the various stakeholders is right there, complete with directional arrows, illustrations representing actions, locations and desired behavioral changes—and more. Then we boarded a cabin on the High Roller for each participant to pitch an event—real or hypothetical. Two were selected and would be the armature around which our work for the coming days would revolve.

The very full Day 1 came to a close around 5 p.m., yet there was still some uncertainty in my mind about how this whole thing could work.

“Trust the process,” Frissen told me as we chatted while packing up for the day.

Rather than become overwhelmed with questions and lingering elements I didn’t yet thoroughly understand, I metaphorically threw my arms in the air and resigned to the fact that in the morning, I’d be closer to my goal of complete understanding.

EventCanvas

Day 2 was incredibly busy in smaller groups. Having selected the two events to design, the room was split into two groups—one for each event—and then those groups were further split into smaller factions, each tasked with plotting the event experience for specific stakeholders.

At one point, we were all instructed to split up into pairs to prototype ideas. I felt confident about the activity until speaking with my partner—she understood our task to be something different. Seeking clarity from Frissen, my partner seemed reassured; I was now confused. The task was to just last a few minutes, so I again metaphorically threw my arms in the air and we got down to business. As our group reconvened, it sounded as though each pair had a slightly different understanding of what we were tasked with achieving prior to going over our mental output together. Before my mind completed the thought, “Oh crap, we wasted those prototyping minutes,” a connection was made. All the parts were somehow coming together. One pair discussed a specific event component and their thoughts about it…suddenly the misdirected prototyping I’d done fit it! Yes, I got excited because the seemingly disparate pieces were coming together. Quickly. This all seemed much more than serendipity. When Frissen walked by to ask how we were doing, I surely acted like a school kid who finally understood a pesky algebra formula.

The level of detail can be overwhelming if you focus on the vast expanse of everything needed to structure a successful event and, of course, the prospect of mapping it out in two days. Dedicating set amounts of time to focus on each of the countless tasks involved in planning an event, and then moving on in an orderly fashion to the next task, indeed seemed to resolve the anxiety of too much. This process certainly saves time, as well as stress, in the long run—but don’t get me wrong, this was a long, mentally exhausting day. Longer than Day 1. The progress was evidenced by the oversized Post-it-covered sheets labelled “Empathy Map” and “Prototyping Area” covering the walls and windows in the meeting room, hallway and outdoor patio.

RELATED STORY: 7 ways to flex your creative muscles

Participant chat over dinner at Mr. Chow revealed the need for some cognitive rest prior to the upcoming, concluding day. I was becoming slap happy.

After some coffee/tea, the activity began swiftly on Day 3, each group picking up right where it had left off. Day by day, more ah-ha moments manifested, sometimes seemingly out of the blue. More clarity and more exhaustion. By that afternoon, we’d created thorough Event Canvases for two very different events, including video walkthroughs shared on WhatsApp to explain the desired—and anticipated—event experience for each of the stakeholders. “How would you like the behavior of so-and-so to change once the event is over, and how will you accomplish that? Well, it’s all (or mostly) right here!”

Having gone through the process, I realized that my feelings/instincts of curiosity and skepticism formed a significant piece of my Entering Behavior—the “baggage” or notions that I brought into the Event Design experience—and it’s likely that the event facilitators had mapped out the possibility of a participant coming into this program with these exact thoughts. After three days of active education, I walked out of this experience—my Exiting Behavior—wowed and converted from skeptic to evangelist. I recognized this same sort of change in some other participants—that shining ah-ha clarity in the eyes is a giveaway. As I think back, I’m still unsure how exactly that transformation happened, but I’m a now unquestionably a believer in the formulas established by Frissen and Janssen—the #EventCanvas process is an effective blend of structure and freedom.

 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a skeptic, the Event Design Certificate program will fundamentally—and positively—alter your planning process. Learn more as the number of Event Design certificate programs is growing, and they’re taking place all over the world!

The post #EventCanvas FTW! appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

The subtle power of mentorship

April 8th, 2019 @

mentorship

When I was the newly hired president of Burger King USA, I worked for the late and legendary restaurateur, Norman Brinker. I was in Norman’s office one afternoon after he had seen a memo that I had written to one of our senior leaders. I was noticeably thorough and prescriptive in terms of laying out the course of action, to which Norman offered an alternate approach.

“I saw your memo to so-and-so and have a thought for you,” he said. “Next time, why don’t you just focus on the objective and leave how he gets there up to him?”

He continued, “Two things will happen: one, you’ll find out how smart he is or ain’t, and two, he might just come up with some new ideas you hadn’t thought of.”

That moment 36 years ago has shaped the way I’ve operated ever since, particularly when it comes to mentoring. While many mislabel mentorship as giving advice, there’s much more to it.

Rethinking the role of the mentor

The principle Norman Brinker instilled in the story above—both as a mentor to me and in my mentorship to others—is that it’s not so much about giving direction. A mentee still thinks and acts on their own, just with the advantage of having a mentor’s wisdom from which to draw. Mentoring means listening, observing, asking and sharing—not guiding or supervising.

Confidence through critical thinking

Let’s say you’re faced with a difficult choice; a mentor, in this situation, will serve as a sounding board. Oftentimes, we don’t know what we think until we hear what we say. You might go into the conversation asking for your mentor’s advice, but once they’ve shared their opinion, you’ll likely carry the discussion the rest of the way. By thinking aloud, you are building confidence in your own decision.

RELATED STORY: Dive into the free Professional Development Guide

Structured mentorship

Mentorship is one of the most underutilized means of passing knowledge between levels and generations of management within an organization. When I talk about structured mentorship, I’m likening it to matchmaking—which is something we do in our Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) and Meeting and Event Management Master’s Programs at San Diego State University. Every student is matched with a mentor based on what they’re trying to accomplish in their personal and professional growth; in many cases, mentors are HTM master’s alumni.

Creating structured mentorship in a corporate setting will naturally involve guidelines and protocol that can at times make the initiative itself feel rigid. But when you match the right people, they usually don’t need much to work with and will figure it out for themselves—yet another nod to the story I told to start this article—with minimal structure required.

RELATED STORY: The how, where and why of networking

coaching

Layers of valuable input

A few years ago, I was mentoring a senior executive who wanted to earn consideration for becoming the successor to the soon-to-retire CEO. True to everything I’ve shared thus far, I gave him a template (rather than a roadmap) for developing his own plan of how he was going to get where he wanted to go. When the document reached a point that we both believed it was well-defined and ready to present, he took it to the CEO.

“I can help you do this,” the CEO said, essentially becoming another mentor in the executive’s journey.

I share this as an example of how mentorship can build from one person to the next—especially in the corporate world, where it has the ability to replace authority with collaboration. “Learning from” and “working alongside” are much more fruitful for everyone than “reporting to.” Mentees in our master’s programs often find the experience so intellectually stimulating that they seek to pay it forward and become mentors to subsequent cohorts.

RELATED STORY: A mentor Thanksgiving

A two-way street

The most rewarding aspect of mentorship boils down to building meaningful relationships and learning from one another. I can tell you from my experiences that I have gained just as much insight and introspect from any and every one of my mentees as they have gained from me—and I know my own mentors connect with the same outlook. Everyone has both wisdom to gain and wisdom to share.

San Diego State University partnered with MPI to create the first-ever meeting and event management master’s degree program. Learn more and start the application process now!

The post The subtle power of mentorship appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

10 engaging tips to boost meeting participation

April 1st, 2019 @

customer experience

It’s time for meetings to evolve.

Meetings are a benchmark of how efficient your company is and also how organized your team is under pressure. It’s easy to forget that meetings are an important element of the customer experience (CX), since they’re just, well…boring.

You could have the best website in the world, incredible brand design and a variety of innovative experiences to offer, but these are not the only elements of CX you should be focusing on. If your in-person business meetings do not garner engagement, your customers will be less than impressed. In today’s hyper-competitive market, you absolutely must wow your potential customers if you want to strike a deal or cement a partnership.

As a leader, you must consistently drive effective communication. Meetings must be deliberate and intentional—your organizational rhythm should value purpose over habit and effectiveness over efficiency.” – Chris Fussell

Meetings are a huge contributor to successful communication, but they’re not easy to plan or manage. Consider that following a detailed agenda and starting on time can reduce meeting times up to 80 percent; unfortunately, only 37 percent of U.S. meetings use agendas. Improving your team’s performance in this arena is worth the hassle.

So how do you make good things happen during meetings? How do you streamline the meeting engagement process to ensure customers have a memorable experience?

We’ve prepared a list of tips and tricks to guide you.

1. Do your homework

This one should be obvious. You only have a small window of time available to make your point—don’t waste it. Are you about to share unnecessary information? Will your customers walk away enlightened or ready for a nap?

Do all necessary research on the prospect and/or industry beforehand, so that your meeting time can be an asset that validates your clients’ trip to your offices. One recommended exercise for understanding a potential customer’s profile is to complete a SWOT analysis. Yes, just like in your college marketing class.

RELATED STORY: Design relevant, engaging experiences

2. Know your audience

Who are you talking to? What have they achieved and what problems are they having? What are their likes and dislikes? How many times have they met with your department or organization before and what were the results?
This relates to the previous point about doing your homework, but it’s also a separate step because you’re using the information to personalize the experience. If you already know some details about the customer (do they like to golf, their alma mater, major industry conferences they’ve recently attended, etc.) it makes it easier to choose a talking point and make casual conversation transition into business discussion.

3. Sentiment should lead the way

When you’re having a one-on-one conversation with someone and you hit on a touchy subject, you can usually tell right away from their body language. In that moment we generally assess how to continue, maybe steering away from the touchy subject if it’s not important.

You should do exactly the same during a meeting. Successful meeting management is about steering conversations based on real-time sentiment and feedback. Get your attendees involved by using tools like surveys and polls. Pose a question and then discuss the answers, in the moment, to gauge the temperature of the room. Then, use the information you gain to influence the rest of the meeting.

4. Enlist some help but return the favor

Your guest speakers agreed to help by giving their time and sharing their insights. In return, make things as easy for them as possible.

Collect post-meeting feedback and then share this information with your subject matter experts. This should help them fine-tune what trends or topics they touched on and how they can improve the overall experience.

Having a speaker’s bureau is incredibly helpful. It allows you to view which exec or subject-matter expert is most knowledgeable on a particular topic and also helps you identify new speakers and opportunities.

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

5. Be a thought leader

Establishing company executives as thought leaders in your organization and within the industry makes them more relatable to customers. It also positions them as subject matter experts, building clout for your organization. For attendees, the meeting becomes a much more exciting prospect, akin to meeting a celebrity.

Execs can assert their thought leadership with published content and blogs, social media, webinars, speaking engagements and similar events. It goes without saying but this should be done continuously outside of regular meetings or conferences.

6. Preparation is key

We’ve already told you to do your homework. However, don’t just aim to come prepared yourself; you should also focus on preparing anyone who will attend the meeting, including other team members and customers.

Make this happen by sharing the agenda and any support documents ahead of time. This way attendees can even get involved beforehand by making topic suggestions for the meeting agenda, or by proposing important materials they’d like to bring to the discussion.

7. Real-time notifications

Forty-nine percent of people multitask by doing unrelated work during meetings. Keep them focused by sharing targeted insights and updates before, during and after the meeting. The best way to go about it is through real-time notifications and alerts.

Start every meeting on the right foot. Ensure that if the room or time changes, your attendees know right away and have clear instructions on next steps. Send out initial details to serve as a primer for what you’ll be talking about, as this will gear them for more participation.

By the end of 2019, more than 50 percent of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience improvements. The technology behind real-time notifications and dynamic alerts is nothing short of innovative.

8. Acknowledge contributions

So, you held the meeting and saw that everyone was engaged? Excellent! Now, make them feel appreciated with a proper follow-up in-person.

Plan to take a few moments at the end of every meeting or discussion to acknowledge contributions. Who was a top participant? Who proposed a remarkable idea that no one else thought of?

Even just a little praise can go a long way toward building lasting relationships.

9. Save time for feedback

All meeting managers hope to collect insightful, actionable feedback from an event. After all, it’s one of the reasons for having a discussion in the first place.

But is there enough time to do it? More importantly, can attendees deliver feedback in an easy, convenient way?

To make it happen, consider using tech tools such as automated reminders, quick one-click satisfaction surveys or even voice dictation. Find ways to improve the feedback process and cut down on excess noise. This will conserve time for you and your team, while affording attendees ample time to share all their thoughts.

RELATED STORY: Traits of great meeting planners

10. Following up after the event

It’s a good idea to gauge interest and collect feedback during the event, but there must also be a follow-up after everyone has gone their separate ways.

Show attendees their contributions were worthwhile by following up on their suggestions. Send personalized messages or notifications that keep engagement going post-meeting; this is your chance to prove that customer comments were taken into account by your team.

Don’t forget to tie up those loose ends—they matter.

Meetings are vital to customer experience

It’s easy to forget that meetings are a part of your CX, simply because they happen so frequently. In addition, most people—even customers—have been desensitized to their shortcomings.

But you can use these tips to step up your game, boost engagement and build long-lasting relationships with whoever you decide to meet in-person.

The post 10 engaging tips to boost meeting participation appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Industry trends from WEC

March 25th, 2019 @

trendsDuring MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC) in Indianapolis last year, SocialTables Founder Dan Berger explored a variety of current and upcoming trends impacting the meeting and event industry. The following edited excerpt covers a few of his topics—but keep on reading to watch the entire presentation here for free!

Commissions

The industry we’re in is changing in front of our eyes. The hospitality powerhouses are going after the industry’s third rail: commission. We’ve seen, just in the last few weeks, pretty much the three largest hotel groups with a thousand plus hotels in their portfolio, cut commissions by 30 percent. At the same time, we’ve seen some chains increase their commissions.

Red Lion just went from 10 percent to 11 percent on group commissions. So, they’re seeing an opportunity, it’s really interesting to see that. Also, other chains have renewed their commitments to third parties. Hotels themselves have been investing in direct booking technologies, so they’re saying we don’t need these third parties necessarily, because we can take that money we’re paying for booking and invest it in technology or invest it in our own sales force.

RELATED STORY: Out of commission: Future of planner business models

Consolidation

On the buyer side, American Express GBT, just bought the sixth-largest demand side planning group. On the vendor side, PSVA bought Hargrove, they’re a GES kind of competitor. And on the tech side, Cvent just announced another acquisition of QuickMobile. So, they bought Matthews CrowdCompass, a few years ago and they just bought QuickMobile because they wanna make sure that they have a stranglehold on the mobile application category.

Prices will increase due to consolidation, as more hotels consolidate, as more hotel chains buy out one another, as more private equity firms buy hotel operators, you’re gonna have prices continue to increase because there’ll be less competition, so prices will only go up. Some chains will drop commissions for group business even further, I think that 7 percent is only the beginning, I think they would ideally like to get to a much lower number. But did you know that actually, hotels charge commission if a corporate chain gives a group lead to a hotel property? They charge them commissions sometimes, much lower than 10 percent, but corporate charges commission for leads they source, and that’s sometimes around 4 percent.

I think some chains will double down on the third-party relationships and say, “You know what, my money is more worthwhile going to a third party to outsource all my group business, as opposed to me investing in my own marketing strategy,” so that might happen too. This is something that we haven’t seen yet, but I think private equity, the really big players when it comes to money, will start moving into the events industry and I think we’ll see consolidation happening with event planning firms.

RELATED STORY: Third-party procurement can cost you your commission

market movement

So, we’ve seen that happening in the DMC world, right? Allied PRA, and other DMCs have purchased small DMCs and consolidated, that hasn’t happened in catering so much because catering is super local, but I think it can happen in event planning firms. So, when you have somebody’s wedding and event planning company, somebody’s meeting planning profession, they can buy that, that’s happened in doctor’s offices, when you go to doctor’s offices, it’s most likely owned by a group of financial investors, not just by the doctor anymore.

So, all this means that there will be seismic shifts to our industry’s structure. Generally speaking, when seismic shifts happen, they happen because of business model shifts, not because of other things. So, we’re seeing the business model shift, where different people are caring more about the money than they used to.

Disruptors

New ways to travel are changing behavior. [Referencing chart] Airbnb is much cheaper than a hotel, so it’s not surprising that it’s competitive, and it’s not just competitive in the United States, it’s competitive all around the world.

By the end of this year, we should see over 50 million Airbnb listings. So, the way you think about it, that’s 50 million additional sleeping room in the world, right? When just 10 years ago, that supply, that sleeping room supply wasn’t available.

And then we’re also seeing another interesting trend: luxury managed departments. There’s a company called Sonder and they essentially do Airbnb, but they actually take the lease, so they’ll lease the apartment, give you a hotel like experience in an apartment. So, more and more interesting business models are coming online, creating more inventory.

RELATED STORY: Contract trends: What’s old may be new again

So, what does that mean for meetings and events? Well, I think one thing that it means is that remote destinations will compete with traditional ones, you’ll suddenly be able to go to a city that had didn’t have the number of sleep rooms that you needed, but now it does because it has another 100,000 sleeping rooms, thanks to home sharing. And home sharing will add inventory in every corner of the globe, so you can have meetings in places you didn’t think about having them before.

Berger covers a number of additional, important subjects related to industry trends—including a lot of tech elements, such as AI, AR, blockchain, virtual experiences, etc. Watch the entire session—for free!—below.

Loved this content? Don’t miss this year’s WEC, DATE in Toronto. Register and learn more!

The post Industry trends from WEC appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Do you have backup?

March 18th, 2019 @

saved in the cloud

In early journalism school, I was taught the importance of a good headline. Hopefully this was a good headline to get you interested.

What back up or spares do you think of when you read the headline?

What backups do I need as a presenter?

It is so embarrassing to spend time on a presentation that you can’t present. The audience has expectations, and you spent a great deal of time and/or money creating your support graphics.

The laptop freezes, the projector is out of focus, the sound is garbled. Has this happened to you? I attended such a meeting this morning.

If I were to depend on any tool for an important purpose, I would always have a backup.

Backups every presenter should have before presenting to an audience

First, always have a power supply for your laptop. Running on batteries is risky when not “backed up” with a power supply.

presentation

Next, insure that your laptop is in “presentation mode.” Apple and Windows both have options you can select to avoid pop ups, notifications and those untimely updates when in presentation mode.

Carry two backups of your PowerPoint with you at all times.

The first backup should be on a thumb drive. That will allow you, should you have a computer failure, to quickly switch to someone else’s computer for your presentation. A true PowerPoint backup has the fonts and characters necessary for the design.

The second backup is so simple it just hit me this morning while I was attending an event. Back up your presentation on your phone. If all else fails, you can refer to the phone copy so you don’t have to stop and fiddle with a backup laptop, restarting yours or other interruptions and what typically is a limited opportunity.

What else should I backup?

Always carry a backup “clicker” to advance your graphics. There are issues with RF and Bluetooth clickers that mostly relate to distance and line-of-sight. Test your clicker in advance from everywhere in the room. Find the dead spots so you can avoid them.

If you are counting on a projector provided by others, enquire about the connections necessary. You may also need backup “dongles” allowing you to connect to the projector. Spare dongles and cables are also prudent.

If you are providing the projector, you should have a new backup lamp.

When you are presenting with sound on video, you should also have backup audio cables and adapters—don’t depend on the venue to provide these.

Technical rehearsal

Finally, you want to do a technical rehearsal well in advance of the doors opening for your presentation. Run the projector and your laptop through the entire presentation before the audience arrives.

Assuming any venue is prepared for you to just walk in and plug in without advance preparation and sufficient backup is a disservice to you and to your audience.

Of course, you want to ensure that you and the presentation can both be seen and heard from the worst seat in the audience.

  • Is the bottom of the screen at least 5.5 feet from the floor?
  • Are the chairs set behind columns or other obstructions?
  • Is there ambient light that may distract from your image controlled?

In the presentation I saw this morning the presenter lost at least 50 percent of the allotted time due to a lack of backup options.

The post Do you have backup? appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Traits of great meeting planners

March 4th, 2019 @

skills

After 950 presentations at conference and conventions, I have a fairly good idea of what type of meeting planner is best to work with. Here is the unvarnished truth, (solely on my experience), based on 12 criteria. It’s not all-encompassing, but if you focus on the accomplishing the elements on the left, you’re off to a great start.

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

Best clients

Less-than-best clients

Complete my pre-speech survey Do not complete my pre-speech survey
Have accurately gauged audience needs Have inaccurately gauged audience needs
Are skilled planners Are first-time or unskilled planners
Have one person serve as prompt liaison Manage by committee with no one in charge
Do not over-schedule their attendees Over-schedule their attendees
Allow me free reign beforehand Hog my time beforehand
Allow me free reign with handouts Micro-manage the handouts
Offer a good flyer and good write-up Offer a poor flyer and/or poor write-up
Provide a hands-free lavalier microphone Do not provide a lavalier microphone
Arrange the room as I requested Ignore the room arrangement request
Have adequate food, restroom breaks Have inadequate food, restroom breaks
Are prompt payers Are slow payers

RELATED STORY: 8 signs your work-life balance is looking good

The post Traits of great meeting planners appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Switching gears: Making a change mid-career

February 25th, 2019 @

career success

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person will have at least 11.7 jobs during their entire work life.

Um, wait. How many?!

Yes, nearly 12 jobs in a lifetime of work. Personally, I think that number is quite low. Many people are pushing 20+ jobs if you count babysitting as a teen through contract/volunteer work in later years.

They all usually add up to a substantial number. The days of retiring from a company with a gold watch are long, long over.

Plus, skill-hungry Millennials are reshaping the world of work to the point that their job changes have also resounded with some employers, who now may perceive long-term employees as stagnant and oftentimes redundant/outdated.

RELATED STORY: Long-term career options for meeting planners

But how does that translate to a career, which is distinctly different yet entirely related to jobs?

Jobs are what you hold at the present moment (i.e. your name, rank and company). Your career is the larger picture. Think of your job as the raft you are floating on, and the career as the river that is carrying you along.

So, what happens when you want to make a change mid-career?

It’s possible, but you need to be mindful before taking that leap mid-stream to jump onto another raft heading to a different destination.

Skill acquisition

Some things to consider include skill acquisition.

Do an inventory of what skills you currently have and review them against your intended career shift. Do you have enough to make the change now? Or do you need to spend a little time beefing them up to broaden your bench strengths.

Remember, it is one thing to think that you can make a change mid-career; it is another to actually try to make that leap. What you believe you are qualified to do (or really want to do) may vary quite widely from the actual skills you possess when you go head-to-head with people who have been doing this all along and come across as very qualified.

Right now, I am working with an attorney who is tired of the rat rate that is the legal field, and she is seeking to transition to operations, which is a very big career departure.

RELATED STORY: Career challenges for planners

In her case, we evaluated everything she has been doing and determined that she has had a big impact on back-office operations by helping train staff, establishing policies and procedures, removing obstacles, improving efficiencies and cutting vendor costs.

This is a start, but she does have some work to do to build out her career skills in operations.

keep learningProfessional development is a good path to pursue. Don’t know how to do a skill? Go take a class and learn it. Presto! Mission accomplished.

But there’s more to making a change mid-career than just adding skills.

Contacts and mentors

You have to build up a whole new universe of contacts.

When I chose to switch careers from being a meeting planner to a résumé writer, I had to completely reinvent myself.

But it actually wasn’t as daunting as one might think.

If you are contemplating a complete career pivot, it’s important to add skills, but you should also join relevant industry organizations. Those entities are the ones who will provide education/training, but also (and more importantly) networking contacts.

When I made my change, it was hard to start from ground zero as I had no credentials other than I had helped students write their résumés.

But the contacts that I made at the National Résumé Writers’ Association were invaluable. Quickly, I learned who the big players and influencers were, as well as the creative types, and began keeping up with their LinkedIn and Facebook posts, as well as tweets to learn more about the business.

Several even took me under their wing and became mentors. That alone is worth its weight in gold when making a change mid-career.

RELATED STORY: Help me help you: Etiquette and mentors

Mentors can answer questions, provide guidance, assess your work and provide constructive criticism, and also be your cheerleaders. Believe me, there will be times during a career pivot that you feel like you’ve made a terrible mistake. Mentors will help you from second-guessing yourself and provide a much-needed shot in the arm as you make your way through unfamiliar landscapes.

Making changes mid-career can be very scary, but with the right tools, knowledge, connections and resources, you can definitely be successful in switching things up.

And as more Millennials and Gen Z workers move through the workforce, I am confident that not only will they have more than 12 jobs in their lifetime, but probably nearly as many different career incarnations.

If there is any one piece of advice that I can share about considering a career transition, it’s this: If you have to work, then you might as well spend that time at work doing something that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy the purpose of the work, it’s time to find a new career. But before you make the leap, make sure you roll your skills into the next career, and make sure that you continuously grow so you are ready for the next career transition if and when it comes.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Weekly deals and highlights: February 21, 2019

February 21st, 2019 @

 Naples, Marco Island, Everglades – Florida’s Paradise Coast
@ParadiseMeeting

Meet in a place where business and pleasure go together naturally. Discover the beautiful hotels, offsite venues and meeting spaces of Florida’s Paradise Coast.

The post Weekly deals and highlights: February 21, 2019 appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

5 ways to eliminate last-minute time-management tendencies

February 18th, 2019 @

time is money

In a whole host of different careers and lines of work, time management is important. In meeting and event planning industries it is absolutely paramount, with many people looking to you as their guiding light in how to pace the whole approach to the event. However, we live in an extremely busy age, with instant communication, constant distractions and an overbearing sense that if you aren’t moving at break-neck speeds then you aren’t succeeding. All of this can lead even the most organized people to slip behind and be forced into situations where they are leaving important things to the last minute.

Here are a few ways in which you can try to combat the demands of the busy world, to ensure that you never slip behind in your time management and find yourself scrambling to get things together.

1. Know your limits

It seems a strange place to start, but one of the absolute keys to avoiding that mad last-minute rush is, sometimes, to not take on the event or meeting in the first place. This shouldn’t be used as an excuse to avoid pushing yourself, but it can be really important that you actually pace yourself in what you agree to.

“Over-committing is such a common mistake I see,” says Vivienne Britton, team leader at 1Day2Write and Brit Student. “I’d much rather someone say ‘no’ to me about taking on a job, than agreeing and then letting me down.”

You’re much less likely to run into last-minute time-management issues if you’re doing the right amount of work rather than way too much.

RELATED STORY: The time is right to simplify and focus

2. Don’t let yourself slack off

Sometimes, the exact reverse of the point above is true. Busy people stay organized, or so the famous maxim says. It’s certainly true that you need to know how much you can take on, but sometimes having hardly anything can actually be a hindrance to achieving what you do have to achieve on time. When you’re in the routine of meeting daily goals and hitting your targets, it feels much less difficult to achieve everything you need to in good time. When you have hardly anything on, you can much more easily find yourself rushing to get the one thing you did have to do done.

3. Track of your behavior (and start now!)

Accountability is key in eliminating late-game panics from your life. Knowing what you are supposed to be doing and then actually recording what you have spent time doing can be a really effective way of keeping things on track in the future. Kathy Bridge, a meeting planner at WriteMyx and Australia2Write, says, “Keeping a log of your activities daily can then become an excellent resource for future projects. You can see where you optimized your time, but most importantly what might have directly caused issues in the past.” Once you know what mistakes you are making, you can then eliminate them until you’ve perfected your scheduling practices.

time management4. Prioritize tasks effectively

It’s a bit of a typical thing to hear, and one which can be quite annoying to be reminded of, but it is really important that you tackle the most difficult, daunting, time-consuming tasks first. Often your perception of what is actually going to end up taking up a lot of time can be miscued—the biggest jobs are the ones that will hurt you most in this regard. If you get them out of the way first, then you are eliminating the possibility of one of them really hurting you with how much time it is taking. You’ll always find meeting your deadlines a lot easier when you do this.

RELATED STORY: The fastest way to save time and money

5. Train yourself to handle the rush

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just end up with a mad rush to the finish line on a project. The first thing to do is not to beat yourself up about it. Things happen: Maybe it was your fault, maybe it wasn’t. Given that you’re in the situation you are, there is nothing that you can do about it. So, a bit of skill with handling the accelerated deadline is actually really important. In the best situation, you learn to avoid the last-minute struggle altogether. But completing the project at all is still better than just throwing in the towel altogether. Figure out how to work under pressure, so when the situation arrives, you can handle it.

Conclusion

So, there you have it, a few ways you can avoid mistakes that force you into last-minute situations. You’ll always run into a few, no matter who you are, so be prepared for those. But, with some good discipline and self-awareness you should be well on your way to tightening up your planning.

RELATED STORY: Sometimes it’s better not to follow the leader

Martha Jameson is a content editor and proofreader at Origin Writings. Before she chose writing at Academic Brits as her calling, she was a web manager and designer. Martha’s main goal is to share her experience, motivation and knowledge with her readers.

The post 5 ways to eliminate last-minute time-management tendencies appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News