8 Meeting Planner Lessons I Learned from My Mother

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mother planning lessons

No matter how you plan to celebrate this weekend, we should all be taking the time to not only appreciate our mothers, but mothers everywhere, who are strong enough to withstand perhaps the most important and challenging job of them all. Many of us carry some of our mothers’ lessons on a daily basis. Even though my mother is a doctor, not a meeting planner, she has endured quite a bit of stress and mayhem in her time, enabling her to impart some very valuable lessons that can be applied to meeting planning. Here are the shiniest pearls of wisdom that all planners can appreciate.

Happy Mother’s Day!

1. Sleep is necessary

No, it’s not a luxury. We can only run on fumes, i.e. getting less than seven hours of sleep, for so long.  Over time, sleep deprivation causes us to miss out on the chance to be our best and happiest selves. Between strict deadlines and travel, planners may have a lot on their plates, but investing time in sleep will always pay off.

2. Wine spritzers can be the best choice

Even though this was originally recommended as I entered college, it rings true in many instances. At events, it can be difficult to resist all of the wonderful food and beverages on display. Still, it’s essential for planners to be on their A-game before, during and after an event. While you don’t necessarily need to drink a wine spritzer, know your limits and remember that moderation is key. Indulge a little bit—after all of that planning, you deserve it! But keep in mind that you’re on the clock.  So it’s probably best to keep alcohol to a minimum and hydration to a maximum.

3. Be clear and direct about what you want

I deeply admire how my mother is never afraid of coming across as brash. Her demeanor is straightforward but always gracious and polite. Consequently, she gets precisely what she wants. Instead of beating around the bush when you want something, be clear. Remember, miscommunication can happen even when every detail is articulated. You have to ask for what you want to get it. When working with various vendors, explain yourself and follow up to make sure your needs are met. In the end, it will be a win-win situation for everyone.

4. You catch more flies with honey

My mother often utters this phrase and it has become one of my favorite mantras. Never underestimate how far kindness will take you. Bad energy spreads like wildfire—and who wants to be around that? On that note, gossip is never something you want to get involved in. it’s petty, mean-spirited and unpleasant. If something needs to be said, be courageous and discuss it with the right person or let it go.

5. Don’t be on time—be early

When I was younger, this one always irritated me, but it is truly a major part of making a good impression. The unexpected can happen at any time so it’s best to be prepared. Always give yourself a cushion, because being late is disrespectful to your coworkers, partners and clients. My mother believes punctuality is also a means of building up goodwill. Plus, punctuality reflects well your character. Making someone wait on you shows that you value your time more than the other person’s. This leaves a poor impression on clients and partners alike.

6. Know when someone’s reached their limit

You can only squeeze so much out of someone—yourself included. Be able to recognize the signs that show someone has hit their limit and give them space to take a breather. After a certain point you’re beating a dead horse, so being more demanding won’t get better results. Instead of tiring out your team or yourself, be patient and allocate some time before jumping back on the task at hand.

7. Set budget priorities and be frugal with the rest

Being smart with money is a hard skill to master. My mother always taught me that the first step is to know where your priorities lie. Of course, this lesson is a valuable one to learn for your daily life, but it’s also useful for meeting planning.

A planner’s money cannot just be thrown around at a whim. Budgeting for a meeting or event requires an understanding of your attendees and what matters most to them. For instance, at a tech event it might be worth spending more on relevant giveaways and high-tech services rather than on catering. This doesn’t mean the food will be disappointing; you just might not splurge on F&B the way you would at, say, a conference for restaurateurs and chefs.

8. Hard work beats everything

No matter how smart or charismatic you are, nothing will ever get you as far as hard work. In fact, brilliance is often wasted on idleness. If a task ever seems daunting, or you feel overwhelmed, that just means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and “keep your nose to the grindstone,” as my mom often says. If you’re willing to devote time and energy, it’s only a matter of time before you attain success.