To Do List

Meeting Planning 101: Focus On These 5 Fundamentals

Missy Johnson, CMPPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

Have you ever observed a co-worker or colleague who seems to always be stretching into territory they don’t need to be in?

Maybe you’ve even seen this in yourself…that desire to always do more than what’s required even when it’s not your area of expertise.

As meeting and event professionals, we often make things harder on ourselves by trying to be everything, to everyone, all the time.

When I find myself feeling stressed or anxious about a project, I make a list of to-do’s and then prioritize them. The simple act of writing things down and getting them out of my head always helps relieve the pressure.

Once my list is complete, I almost always realize that the stress is really coming from tasks that I put on myself that have little-to-no urgency. Or even worse, the tasks aren’t things that are relevant to my job or critical to the overall project goals.

Skip the anxiety and stress by focusing on these five fundamentals of meeting and event planning:

1. Get Comfortable With Contracts.

I read and/or negotiate at least one contract every day. The amount of time meeting professionals spend touching contracts for venues, hotels, caterers, production partners, etc. makes it imperative to have comfort negotiating and understanding these legal documents.

Brush up on your knowledge by asking your in-house counsel to explain what you don’t understand or ask a colleague who is savvy to educate you.

To Do List2. Know Your Audience.

If you don’t know your audience inside and out, then how do you expect your meeting and event partners to react and adapt to their needs during the event?

It’s our job to understand that a room full of male-dominated-affluent-Baby-Boomers is going to expect an entirely different experience than a mostly-female-multilingual-Millennial audience.

Meeting professionals need to champion their audience and communicate their wants, needs and expectations to all partners involved.

3. Partner With Vendors Who Share Your Passion.

A meeting vendor who understands your passion (and shares a similar passion relative to their product or service) will take your meeting or event to another level.

Sometimes its hard to identify as you work with prospective vendors. I’ve learned that I just know it when I see it. You can’t fake passion.

4. Work On Adaptive Communication Styles.

As meeting professionals we must wear many hats. We need to be able to effectively communicate with our CEO’s as well as we do with hotel banquet or bell staff.

Understanding that the way you deliver your messages to different groups will help you (and them) be much more effective.

5. Trust Your Gut.

When it comes down to saving a few bucks to work with a less experienced vendor or spending a little more to get a trusted pro on your side, money shouldn’t always be the driver.

Learning to trust your instincts with any tough decision will also help you consistently take the ethical high road.

In the end, focusing on fundamental meeting and event planning strategies will drive you and your projects in the right direction while also relieving stress and anxiety where you don’t need it…in the middle of your meeting planning projects!

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