Meeting planners have all experienced the gratifying, joyous feeling of coordinating a successful conference or event, but they face many obstacles along the way.
Some challenges can feel overwhelming, but can be met by adopting new or different approaches. The following strategies, adapted from Event MB, can help to turn potential failures into successes.
Dealing with difficult people: Planners can be dragged down by whiny and demanding people, such as vendors who insist on always coming first when arranging a meeting and attendees who ask a million questions over and over. Many of these situations can be avoided by establishing clear, constructive relationships with everyone from the very beginning and by providing thoughtful, practical answers to their questions. Some people still might be annoying, and in those cases take a deep breath, relax and maintain a positive attitude.
Handling slowness: Last-minute RSVPs, late responses to inquires about entertainment and other instances of tardiness can present major problems for planners. It’s best to set up a firm due date for all attendees, speakers and vendors from the beginning. Also, make sure that your team members are prompt and pick up the slack when needed before, during and after the meeting.
Remaining patient: Planners have a definite set of expectations, including timetables that need to be met, but often, things don’t occur as expected. Attendees or caterers might arrive late, or audiovisual equipment might malfunction. In such cases, it’s normal to feel frustration, but it’s important to remain calm and not point fingers at anyone. You might later find that the attendees or caterers were caught in unusually heavy traffic, or that the malfunction was unavoidable. And even if someone is directly responsible, remain composed and help to find a positive solution.
Managing No-Shows: One of planners’ main headaches is speakers and registered participants who fail to show up. Everyone who commits to the event should be informed in no uncertain terms that absences are permitted only in unusual circumstances, such as family emergencies. Also, it’s essential to have backup speakers ready and alternative plans if participants fail to appear.
Backing Away: Some planners have a habit of taking on too much work. To avoid unnecessary stress and exhaustion, they need to rely on and trust their staffs to sometimes take the lead. Backing away a bit is a strength, not a weakness: Strong planners have very capable teams that allow them to get some rest and remain healthy.