Imagine this: You’re in a crowded convention center and aren’t quite sure where to go next. You hold up your phone and see signposts appear, pointing out what will be going on next with speaker ratings.
Or this: While flipping through a magazine, you see a hotel that looks interesting. You scan that page with your mobile device and a video plays, giving you more information. Then a series of buttons appear. They allow you to download a schematic of their meeting space, schedule an appointment to talk with a sales rep and do a quick virtual tour.
Well, these things — and more — are already possible, thanks to the “magic” of augmented reality.
Augmented reality is like a QR code that interacts with you. Like a QR code, you unlock hidden content with a mobile app. Unlike QR codes, augmented reality content can be tied to an image or a location and contain multiple calls to action. Augmented reality also allows for a richer user experience.
The augmented reality content you unlock can include interactive 3-D animation, videos, photo overlays, links to websites, calendars, emails and social networks — or any combination of the above. What’s more exciting is that relatively inexpensive platforms exist where non-techies can drag and drop the experiences and content they want users to experience into templates that automatically code everything. These web-based dashboards even give you analytics about user behavior and interactions.
So if you know how to click and drag a mouse, you can start encoding conference brochures with enriched sponsor content, a welcome video from your key stakeholders, links to exhibitor’s Facebook and Twitter pages — and then give them a report of how many views and clicks occurred afterwards.
Don’t worry if you’ve gone totally green and no longer print brochures. You can still use the technology. Once an image is tied to augmented reality content, that image will still trigger the content no matter how it appears, whether in an email, on a website, a hotel leaderboard, conference signage, the side of a bus or in a digital brochure.
Want to learn more? Join me in New York City Aug. 13 at PlannerTech or Aug. 22 at PYM LIVE and I’ll break down how it works, and how you can use it to engage your attendees and create a new revenue stream for your events.
Want to start playing with the technology? Download the free PYM+ app for Apple or Android devices and scan embedded pages in our 2013 Plan Your Meetings Annual Guide (our table of contents for augmented content is on page 6). If you want a print copy to play with, subscriptions for meeting/event planners are free and available by filling out this quick 2-min. survey.
Plan well and prosper, friends! Let me know if I’ll see you in New York by tweeting @PYMLive (I have special discount codes for each event).
It’s amazing to think that just two generations ago, people expected to spend their lives working for one company, moving up the ranks until they reached the pinnacle, received a “thanks for putting in 50 years” wristwatch and retired. Now, it’s rare for people to spend more than five years at a company; some count themselves lucky if a job lasts more than 18 months.
As a manager that means constant churn. Even in a company like ours, where we have several decade-long workers, there are plenty of fresh-out-of-college hires who never make it to the five-year mark.
The challenge, I’ve found, isn’t firing people — by the time someone has to be let go, they’ve been given enough (documented) chances to change — it’s managing people who have given notice and already have one foot out the door. After all, you can’t fire someone after they’ve given notice or you’d have to pay severance and unemployment.
So how do you create an environment where people are still productive, even though their stay will be brief?
Step one: Realize it’s not about you
First of all, avoid taking anything personally. People resign for a variety of reasons. It’s never really about you. Sometimes people are given an opportunity you can’t match; others may just need a life change. Let them go with your blessing. The party will go on just fine without them.
Step two: Understand that you’re being given a gift
Everyone is resistant to change in some way. At regular intervals, it’s necessary to re-evaluate the jobs people are doing and whether your office is set up to meet current market challenges. That seldom occurs when every desk is occupied. When someone leaves, however, it forces you to get over the inertia that’s set in.
Step three: Know that anyone can be replaced
No one likes to think that, but it’s true. And sometimes, it’s the pivotal people holding everyone else back — it’s just impossible to see that until they leave.
For example, “irreplaceable” people who do everything often are control freaks with trust issues. When they go, it creates the opportunity for others to shine and real teams to form as the work becomes more evenly distributed. Sometimes, positions are created for darlings of the office after they’ve outgrown entry-level work. Because they’re well-loved, it’s often not obvious how unqualified they were until they walk.
Step four: Create an exit strategy with expectations
Help the person leaving let go. Give them responsibilities and deadlines. Work with them to develop a plan for how they will document their responsibilities, turn over projects already in progress and train their replacement (unless it’d be better for the company to have someone else to do the training).
And hold them accountable. If they’re not performing well, don’t let them just limp out their remaining time. Talk with them and figure out a solution for whatever is causing their poor performance. It’s not a waste of time. The true waste would be letting a valuable employee ruin their reputation by leaving a bad last impression.
Have other challenges? Ask your questions below or tweet them to me @PYMLive.
Maybe it’s awful of me, but I can’t help wondering if the Boston Marathon organizers had a crisis management plan, and if they were able to see it through from start to finish after the bomb went off.
It also made me wonder about you: When was the last time you updated your event’s crisis management plan? Do you even have one?
As event organizers, we’re lucky that most unexpected dilemmas don’t involve bloodshed, just the on-site A/V guy. But what happens if your next event is disrupted by an act of terrorism, flu epidemic, heart attack or natural disaster? Will you be prepared to limit risk and control panic?
These are a few of the essential items that should be present in your crisis management plans:
- Outline of communication flow from first responders to risk management team to attendees and families, meeting stakeholders and media
- Cancellation requirements and procedures.
- Essential phone numbers for emergency, on-site and off-site personnel.
- Incident-specific action item checklists broken down by timeline and available personnel (i.e., hurricane vs. bird flu).
- Communication and transportation plan for attendees stranded by the event.
Don’t forget to update them frequently, especially when something previously unthinkable (like a bomb going off at the Boston Marathon) occurs.
Want to know more? Here’s are some helpful links:
- Crafting a crisis management plan
- Limiting your liability
- Customizing force majeure clauses
- Tips for managing the media (plus hotel safety tips)
Do you have any other tips? Leave them in the comments field below…
In one forum of meeting professionals, a hotelier likened per diems to “price fixing.” If off-season rates in Aspen are $75, but the published per diem is $160/night, what incentive do hotels have in giving government groups the same rates the public enjoys if the government is willing to pay more?
The response was even more interesting: Why would a government group even consider meeting in Aspen? Wouldn’t it be a better use of taxpayer dollars to meet somewhere else?
To which the hotelier replied that shouldn’t be the issue. If a destination offers the best value, he said, that should outweigh fears of perception. He pointed out that one government group his Aspen/Snowmass property lost elected to spend $5,000 more to meet in Denver.
During the height of the AIG hysteria, I remember hearing about groups that were paying as much as $2 million in cancellation fees to back out of meetings that had been contracted years ago — all because of perception. I don’t remember anyone asking how that was fiscally responsible.
We need to stop focusing on what things cost and what people might think and concentrate on what’s really important: The goals and objectives for meeting.
At a roundtable PYM hosted in Atlanta last month, a government meeting planner said, “I plan for the military, so meeting without clear and actionable goals would be unthinkable.”
I spoke to a Society of Government Meeting Professionals chapter the next day. “You all know why you’re meeting, right?” I asked. Some of them shook their heads. They obviously had homework to do. And that wasn’t the only thing that was screwy. Most of the government meeting planners, I learned, were left completely cut out of the procurement process. There was no conversation between them and GSA procurement teams who were creating the RFPs and selecting vendors for the meetings. The government planners were just being handed the names of the people they were to supervise to execute the meetings.
What’s worse, a friend who specializes in planning government meetings told me there are plenty of “independent planners” being awarded government contracts who have no prior meeting planning experience, they just know how to go through the bidding process. Seems to me that creating a meetings management system isn’t going to fix anything at the GSA until they stop focusing on price and start talking about goals.
Internally, whether you work for a private or public company, government or an association, you need to be asking what the goals for meeting are. If you’re awarding a contract to an outside vendor, whether it’s only to find a destination or it’s turnkey event management, you need to make them aware of what the meeting’s objective is. If you’re an independent contractor, you need to ask your clients what they’re trying to achieve and guide them towards making decisions that will make the event successful.
If you do that, the question of whether or not it was appropriate to meet in Aspen, Las Vegas or Disneyland will never be an issue. Because if you did select one of those destinations, you did so with a clear goal in mind. One that you could articulate and explain to anyone who asks, whether they’re members of Congress, a TV news crew, second-string reporter or your Aunt Irma. Same goes for every element of your meeting and line item on your budget.
If you don’t, you’re setting yourself, and this industry, up for failure. Because like it or not, we’re all in this together. And I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of a few idiots making things difficult for everyone else.
If you’re immersed in any activity, it’s difficult to perceive the threats surrounding you. That’s why food you eat in the car always ends up on your shirt and your most serious injuries occur when you’re doing something as simple as stepping off a curb.
I totally understand why meeting and event planners don’t see this industry’s true threats. Technological advances are so sexy. The recession is so boring. The workload is so relentless. There are a million reasons why they’re paying attention to something else.
But stop and think for a second. What really are the greatest threats to your job security? It’s not robots. It’s not hybrid or virtual event technology. It’s supply and demand. As in: If demand is high and supply is scarce, prices will rise. Remember that from Economics 101?
Supply and demand
In case you haven’t noticed, hotels aren’t run like nonprofits. There’s an unprecedented push from corporate headquarters to squeeze every last drop of revenue out of each hotel room and amenity. There’s no new supply and increasing demand. If you walk in and demand your comp room per 50 or a flat 10 percent off, they’re just going to move that cost around. So you need to update your negotiation skills or you’re going to find you’re outclassed by revenue managers. You’ll find some tips about what you really can leverage here.
Then there’s the cost of gas. When I got my first car in the 1990s, gas was $ .78 a gallon. Now I’m lucky if it’s less than $4. Very few U.S. cities have useful public transportation options, and the cost of living has created urban sprawl and ungodly commutes as people have been forced to settle further out from city centers. You don’t have to live in Los Angeles, New York or Atlanta to experience road rage. South Carolina, Iowa and Missouri get jammed up, too. It’s becoming difficult to hold local events because of drive times and the cost of gas.
Did you know that Delta Airlines recently bought an oil refinery? That’s because if the cost of oil continues to rise, it’s going to put several airlines out of business. At the 2011 GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference, Prof. Ian Lee, Ph. D., of Carleton University warned that half of the 15 existing European carriers would go out of business by 2015 if the price of oil hit $100 a barrel; we’d only have 6 left if it hit $200 a barrel. Guess what? The cost of oil is projected to be $110 a barrel next year. American air carriers are no less vulnerable. How are you going to get people to events if you have half the airlift (at twice the cost)?
Quality of life
Gas and airlift aside, the persistent insecurity of the job market means that even if people could get to your event, they’re afraid to leave the office. You might think you can avoid that conflict by holding events after work hours or on the weekends. But people who are stressed out don’t want to spend any extra time on work; they want to pursue personal passions or be with their families at night and on the weekends. Does the value proposition of your event outweigh that desire?
Then there’s the issue of sustainability. The American meetings and events industry is the second-most wasteful industry in the country. Efforts to reduce paper and recycle should be commended, but we need to realize that we’re only scratching the surface of what needs to change. As Smarter Shift President Mitchell Beer would say, “What good is it to purchase all of your food from within a 100-mile radius of the venue if you’re transporting people 5,000 miles to your event?” Speaker Tim Sanders has been warning meeting planners to rethink the way we organize and execute events since 2008. If you need ideas on how you can avoid being a casualty of what he calls the impending Responsibility Revolution, you should check out this recap of his MPI PEC-NA speech and think about attending the upcoming GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference April 7-10 in Chicago.
The way it’s always been done
Finally, there’s the matter of habit. The mind-numbing rituals you execute over and over again because you “don’t have time” to examine what’s not working anymore in your event planning process. I’ve got one simple piece of advice: Make the time. Why persist in doing things that no longer work? You know what the seven most expensive words in business are? “Because it’s always been done that way.”
“Event planners spend so much time making sure the menu’s all right and loving putting together a list of three vendors to supply seat covers for the gala,” Beer says. “But attendees won’t remember the seat covers when they go home. They won’t remember the food unless it’s really bad. And if they do, they shouldn’t let the CFO find out because if that happens, they’ll never let them get away for a meeting agin.” Content, he insists, is key and something far too few planners care about or understand how to program. But it goes beyond content. Here are four key factors that will influence any future meeting you plan.
You also can’t ignore the fact that today’s audiences demand interaction. If you aren’t creating a community with every event, you’re missing a vast opportunity to make a real difference (and save your marketing team a heck of a lot of work). Totally stumped for ideas? Check out these 14 tips attendees of a recent PYM LIVE came up with to engage people before, during and after the show.
What do you think? What threats to this industry do you see? And what are you doing about it? Let me know by commenting below or tweeting @PYMLive.
According to the recent PCMA Convening Leaders convention and MPI Business Barometer, customizing your attendee’s experience is a trend you can’t ignore. But if you have thousands of attendees, how can you possibly create 1,000 different experiences? After all, budgets are just now starting to grow. You’re lucky to be able to afford a social media monitor, much less have the money to creating two or more versions of everything.
So let’s take a look at some big-ticket issues and examine the simplest way you can customize your event to address them. Below I’ve addressed the to-do items involved if you want to implement the simplest solutions. If you’ve got those licked, I include how you can go the extra mile.
Issue: Accommodating dietary restrictions and allergies.
Simple fix: Collect data about special needs at registration. Label buffet items so ingredients are obvious. Educating banqueting staff about what’s in the food they’re serving. Making accommodations on the menu.
- Educate venues about special needs and restrictions.
- Create menu options that accommodate those restrictions.
- Communicate how those options may be selected and redeemed.
- Educate banqueting staff about ingredients and fulfilling orders.
- Ensure that attendees, staff and venues are clear on how to redeem vouchers for special meals.
Next steps: Creating vegetarian or allergen-free meals for everyone. After all, what’s free of the major allergens also tends to be low on the glycemic scale and brain-friendly. If you really want to make people feel special, ask them what their favorite snacks or Starbucks beverages are and give those to them on-site or on the shuttle prior to group activities.
Issue: Accommodating physical and age-related restrictions.
Simple fix: Collecting special needs data at registration. Booking ADA-accessible venues and hotels. Taking into account generational differences when designing events. Letting people who have motorized scooters know where they can plug in on-site to recharge.
- Designing seating with wide aisles.
- Striking a balance between what’s trendy (i.e., beanbags or high-tops) with what’s comfortable for people with bad backs and knees.
- Choosing quality A/V at your price point so people with hearing loss won’t suffer.
- Making sure that font-size on apps and conference screens are legible or adjustable for people with impaired vision.
- Providing options for people with other restrictions to help them get around and participate in your event.
Next steps: Designing seating, sessions and meal functions with a mix of options that appeal to people of all ages and abilities. (Even if that means that you do simultaneous versions of the same event, like an awards banquet that has a formal and informal paid option, so people can participate in the way that’s most comfortable for them.) Experiencing your event as if you had those challenges (i.e., vision or hearing loss, physical disability) and designing elements of your event to address those needs. For example, training staff to explain where buffet items are to someone who’s blind or creating Braille menus.
Issue: Accommodating different learning styles and personality types.
Simple fix: Asking people for areas of interest or to self identify at registration (i.e., as introverts, fans of jellybeans, etc.). Or using a mobile conference app that groups people by interests, suggests people to contact on-site or has networking as its focus (i.e., Topi, Bizzabo, SpotMe).
- Grouping people by interest at meal functions, in sessions or at special events to make meeting new people easier.
- Educating attendees, sponsors and exhibitors about how to use tech tools to full advantage.
- Make group seating smaller so discussions can be more intimate and less intimidating for introverts.
- Increase the amount of break time people have so they can refresh and process what they’ve learned.
- Have presenters break their material into chunks so discussions or group activities happen every 10 minutes or so.
Next steps: Creating different versions of the same session to appeal to people with different learning or social styles. Creating multiple handouts to appeal to people with different learning preferences.
You can’t be all things to all people. So it’s important for you to define the lengths to which you’ll go to in satisfying attendees. What I’ve listed above are just a few ways in which people are starting to customize their event experience. Do you have other examples you’d like to share? Do so by posting a comment below or tweeting @PYMLive and tagging it with #yaypym.
Plan well and prosper,
Yesterday, I was catching up with a friend who plans international events and she asked me, “What are you excited about right now? What do you think the big trends will be?”
Lucky for her, I am in the midst of cool-hunting for our 2013 PYM Annual, so I’ve been ruminating about those very things since August.
There’s a million things I could have told her (and you). But for this column, I’ll boil all of of my thoughts on the topic down to two big ideas.
Chances are you have no idea what UI/UX means but you’ve already started to integrate them into how you work.
UI is “user interface.” It’s a design term that programmers use to describe the visual look of a website, game or app. For example: We’ll put the play button here; an image will be there, the color scheme will be these three colors — it’s basically how they put together the design elements to be functional, logical and pleasing to the eye.
Then there’s UX, or “user experience.” That’s how the user — or in your case, the attendee — experiences what you’ve created for them. It’s how you make an idea sticky or irresistible. It’s the key to engagement and repeat business.
For example, if you were to go to Threadless.com right now and put a $9.99 T-shirt in your shopping cart, an animated version of said cart would pop up and personally thank you for putting cool things in its tummy. The informality and unexpectedness of it makes you laugh a little and want to feed it more (by buying more shirts).
If you were to cancel your order, your friend the shopping cart would pop back up, remind you of how hungry it is and ask you to reconsider — maybe you could find something else to feed it? You become emotionally invested in the transaction.
You don’t get that at Amazon.com.
Since the meetings industry first came under intense media and governmental scrutiny in 2009, the focus has been on logistics. And rightly so. We had a lot of waste and inefficiencies we needed to question.
We still do.
But people are tired of austerity. Anything that might have been considered fun has been labeled “frivolous.” But there are a lot of fun, creative things planners can do to engage attendees and enrich their on-site experience which don’t cost anyone anything. Because of that, there’s a backlash brewing against the notion that fun has no place at events. Especially because those unexpected little touches are what’s making face-to-face events more vital and enjoyable than ever.
From the attendee perspective, they’ve had to make hard choices about which events they would attend and which ones they would skip for four long years. It doesn’t take a deep data analyst to see that they’ve abandoned conventional events in favor of ones that use social media to engage them and which have enhanced the conference experience by using new formats, content and technologies to help attendees network and learn better.
You can create irresistible events, too. But to do so, you need to stop focusing solely on logistics.
I’d recommend that the first thing you do is stop calling yourself a “meeting planner.” You’re more than that. You’re a meeting designer. An architect of experience.
Your job now is to determine the stakeholders’ goals and then design your events to achieve those goals.
Ask yourself: What is the overall experience you’re constructing from registration to departure? How do you need to arrange the various components so they work together and form a seamless experience for your attendees? How do you create activities, education and meaningful points of contact that continuously reinforce the meeting objectives? Does the marketing collateral reinforce the emotional call to action you will fulfill on-site?
That’s UX and that’s the future of the event planning process.
Prediction #2: Despite how thoroughly we’ve botched up the planet, people will start to feel optimistic again
It’s official: If we manage to outlive the end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, people will be over their apocalyptic fantasies. No more zombies! (Although we’ll still be haunted by LOLCATS, cause they make us feel good.)
There’s a real push to end the sky is falling Great Recession mindset and learn to make the best of what we’ve got. Need proof? Take a look at what’s popular on TV.
In the 1930s entertainment largely consisted of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney musicals; today we’ve got “Glee” and a panoply of gay-friendly sitcoms like “Modern Family,” but the zeitgeist is the same. To paraphrase an old song, “We ain’t got money honey, but ain’t we got fun?” Obviously, there’s a mainstream desire to escape and live in a world where something as simple as a song can fight cancer (or at least really mean people).
Despite their non-traditional family values, these shows display a by-the-bootstraps, scrappy can-do attitude that is played out in a multi-cultural, pansexual way on network television. And that message of forgiving, albeit counter-cultural, happiness through diversity is infiltrating the business world.
This perspective is gaining traction because, despite all evidence to the contrary — racial tensions, seriously incompetent government, sky-high debt, school shooters — we want to believe in the innate goodness of our fellow human beings. We want to believe that skin color, religion, sexual preferences and gender don’t matter anymore. We want to believe that misfits are just as important as popular kids and that everyone can work together to overcome their differences to make something of lasting worth.
If you can create a culture of inclusion where distinction-blind collaboration could happen at an event, how cool would that be? Well you can, but it requires being hyperaware of diversity. Not just black-and-white diversity, but diversity of physical abilities, comfort levels with technology, learning and communication preferences, dietary restrictions, gender and generational challenges, religious observances and cultural taboos, too.
Meeting designers will need to take these diverse needs into account in a way they never had before so they can circumvent things that might make people feel uncomfortable or discourage them from participating. This is beyond being “politically correct.” This is about the having the opportunity to create a mini utopian society where people truly all do “just get along.” And how awesome is that?
So those are my big fat predictions for 2013.
If you want more detailed advice on how the above will affect everything from the design and application of your conference apps to your room sets, negotiation tactics and menus, you’ll need to sign up to receive the 2013 PYM Annual or follow the discussion on the Plan Your Meetings site. But all that’s free for meeting and event designers.
Now, quid pro quo Clarice: What do are your predictions for 2013? Are you feeling optimistic? Or are you still stuffing cash into your mattress? Let me know!
Meeting planners are the movie producers of the corporate world. That’s what keynote speaker Tim Sanders calls us.
It’s an apt metaphor. We take a storyline or script dictated by others, hire people who can bring it to life, raise the money to support it, make sure things are on-time and under budget, oversee its marketing and make sure everyone gets paid. Then we move on to the next project.
What people get to see at the event is the magic: the surprises, the fun, the networking, the glamour. What they never get to see is how hard we work to make sure nothing falls apart.
But as experienced meeting planners like to say, “Shift happens.” No matter how well you prepare, something unexpected is going to happen. The mark of your power as a professional is how well you pivot, shift and turn an earth-shattering crisis into a bump in the road.
Hurricane Sandy is one of those crises. Who could have predicted that weeks after the storm, offices and schools would still be closed and a Nor’easter would come and undo all the cleanup that had been done post-hurricane.
I recently read a story about what one industrious planner did to salvage an event the last time the lights went out in New York City. I’m sure that in Sandy’s wake, there are hundreds of stories we could tell of how we ensured the show went on despite the behind-the-scenes chaos.
The biggest problem with being a magician is that we can’t brag about how we hid things from the audience to maintain the illusion. If we tell those tales to stakeholders or coworkers they might use them to criticize us or think that we’re bragging or complaining.
But you are safe here. In the #ShiftHappens brother and sisterhood, we appreciate the lengths you go to in order to avert disaster.
Have a story to tell about how you salvaged or are still working to salvage an event? Share it in the comments below or tweet me @PYMLive with the tag #ShiftHappens.
Plan well and prosper!
The No. 1 question meeting planners ask speakers is “Is your fee negotiable?” The least asked question is “How can we make this session successful?” Unfortunately, that’s the one that’s most important.
I know you’re busy thinking about other things, so here’s a quick cheat sheet on how to help your speakers develop more captivating educational sessions.
Step 1: Embed your goals in your call for proposals
Why send out a general call for proposals if you know exactly what you want to achieve in your educational sessions? Sharing your goals for educational topics, audience engagement and method of delivery will increase the quality of your potential talent pool.
For example, list the kinds of sessions you’re looking for at the top of the application so speakers can explain how their content fits into those parameters. Want to make sessions more interactive? Ask speakers to outline what percentage of time they will spend on lecture, group activity, Q&A, discussion, etc., in their proposals.
Step 2: Do your homework
Did you collect speakers’ references? Call them. Watch videos of the speaker in action. Read articles they’ve written. Then talk with them about what you want to achieve and how they can help you achieve it.
Help speakers customize their content for your group. Include a relevant question attendees are required to answer on the event registration form. (If it’s not mandatory, no one will fill it in.) Then share that information before the event with the speaker so they can address those concerns and provide specific solutions during their session.
Step 3: Keep communications simple
Let there be one point of contact for your speaker. Even if you have to plan by committee, make one person the information funnel. And deliver that information in a timely manner. You want speakers to concentrate on delivering a killer session. You don’t want to distract them by forcing them to wonder where they need to submit receipts, what their hotel reservation number is, who they’re supposed to call if there’s an issue or how they’re supposed to get to your event.
Bonus tip: Be inclusive
Make it easy for your speakers to interact with your audience before and after the event. Have a conference hashtag? Let speakers know and share their Twitter handle with your audience. Tell them where your conference lives on Instagram, Facebook and other social networks so they can engage attendees and share information with them. Ask if they’d be able to do a pre-show webinar, blog or online Q&A. Invite them to the opening night reception or other social activities happening around their session so they can get a feel for your group. And let them know how they can keep the conversation they start going after the event ends.
Curious to know more? Here are 9 tips our friends at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting and Tagoras would like you to keep in mind when you book speakers. Or follow the #yaypym hashtag and let us know your thoughts.
In college, my theater professor used to reserve Fridays for answering our questions about the business of acting. One of the most important things he ever said was, “Every day, make sure you do something that makes you feel like an actor.”
At the time, I didn’t understand what he meant. How could I? I was in back-to-back shows. I lived, ate, slept, breathed theater.
Years later, as I began my career in New York, doing very unglamorous things like going to cattle call auditions for the role of Girl #4 (in trunk) and doing Moliere plays for audiences of two at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, I started to get what he meant. But it wasn’t until I had to really depend on the income of my day job that his message really hit home.
It took a while, but I finally realized just how much of life is spent doing things that you’re not passionate about. If you don’t resist that by feeding your passion a little every day, it will wither until all you’re left with is a job that’s not a joy, it’s an obligation.
“Every day, you need to do something that makes you feel like you deserve to be called an actor,” my professor said. “So even if the world only sees a waitress, you know in your heart that’s not what you are.” Doing something every day, he insisted, would see you through the darkest days.
I bring this up because I keep hearing that more and more of our independent #eventprofs are taking up day jobs to make ends meet or leaving the industry altogether. The turnover rate for corporate meeting planners is about 40 percent a year. The recession has put a lot of people out of work, and the ones who are still working tell me things are slow.
How are things with you? Is your life filled with work or do you have the space you need to fill your work with life?
I ask because if you are working a job that’s not your passion, start doing something every day that prepares you for what you would rather be doing. It doesn’t have to shake the world; it can be a small act: a picture, a pin, a webinar, a social event, cleaning out your contacts, reading a book, writing a blog.
Do whatever makes you feel like you are keeping one foot in the planning world. If you keep feeding that passion and sharpening those skills, when fantastic opportunities come along you’ll be ready.
So, pardon me for asking, but what have you done today to deserve being called a meeting professional?