Ten Secrets of Super Successful Meeting Planners by Susan A
Ten Secrets of Super Successful Meeting Planners
by Susan A. Friedmann, CSP
Whoever said that being a meeting planner was easy, lied! Rather, it should
be classified under the tough and demanding job category. But, along with being
tough, itís also fun, exciting, exhilarating, stimulating, and never, never
boring. You have the opportunity to go to exotic places, stay in luxurious
hotels, and experience life from a totally different angle. Who could ask for
anything more? For those of you ready to shoot me at this point, know that I
fully understand your pain!
The purpose of this article is to look at ten skills that help make a super
successful meeting planner, and how you can take this expertise and use it to
enhance the great job youíre already doing.
1. Planning and organizing
The most common reason shows go wrong lies in the simple fact that not enough
time is devoted to adequate planning and preparation. And, many of those shows
that are believed to have been successful, are often more by chance than through
actual organization. Super successful meeting planners have both a strategic and
tactical plan of action. They then use the following five basic questions as
their foundation before making any arrangements:
∑ Where does this meeting fit into our corporate marketing strategy?
∑ Why are we meeting?
∑ What is the purpose of the meeting?
∑ Who should attend the meeting?
∑ What is our budget?
2. Taking care of details
So much of putting a meeting together means taking care of the details, and
there are usually more of these than you care to think about. Being
detail-oriented is a definite plus. The key to so much of a meeting plannerís
success is having a system that works. Creating checklists is one of the best I
know. With the hundreds of pieces that make up the meeting puzzle, the only way
to put them together and keep tabs on all the details, is with a checklist.
Become a checklist fanatic and consider having a checklist for each checklist. Iím
getting dizzy just thinking about it.
3. Practicing savvy marketing
A significant part of a successful meeting plannerís role involves developing
a pre-, at- and post-event plan. Most meeting planners fail to have a plan that
encompasses all three areas. Budget is naturally going to play a major role in
deciding what and how much promotional activity is possible. Super successful
meeting planners know the importance of developing a meaningful theme or message
that ties into their strategic marketing plan, and that will guide their
promotional decisions. They know and understand their target audience and plan
different promotional programs aimed at the different groups they are interested
4. Being a team player
Super successful meeting planners know exactly how to work together as a team,
helping each other out whenever and wherever necessary. They help everyone get
acquainted, develop a level of trust, and familiarize and understand each
other's strengths. They know what it takes to create an environment of
camaraderie where the staff, as a whole pulls out all the stops to succeed and
set themselves apart from the competition.
5. Knowing how to manage time
Super successful meeting planners have mastered the art of managing their time.
They are well organized and have essential information at their fingertips,
which means that their work environment is orderly and efficient. They know
their priorities, donít over commit themselves, and can differentiate between
important and urgent tasks. They are superb delegators and are not afraid to ask
for help whenever they need it. And, finally, they donít procrastinate; on the
contrary, they practice the ďdo it nowĒ habit.
6. Negotiating skillfully
Skillful and savvy negotiators know exactly what they want. They spend time
doing their research so that they know as much as possible about their opponent.
They are prepared with strategies and tactics, questions and possible
concessions. They are masters at finding alternative ways of talking about,
reacting to and solving problems. They use their talents of intuition,
flexibility and concern for others to reach an agreement where both sides win.
They look to create a feeling of cooperation to build a mutually beneficial
7. Applying a positive attitude
Research successful people and youíll find that having a positive, ďcan doĒ
attitude ranks high on their list of characteristics. Not only are they positive
and upbeat, they surround themselves with naturally positive and successful
people. Give it a try and see it their attitude rubs off on you. When you focus
on what you can do versus what you canít do, expect to find solutions to your
various challenges. Try changing your vocabulary to reflect your optimistic
thoughts and feelings, and see what happens. People find you more attractive and
want to be around you, especially when you focus and direct your conversation
onto the outcomes they want.
8. Evaluating results
Any master continuously looks to improve on their performance, and a super
successful meeting planner is no different. Create a system to evaluate your
results. Ask your participants for their feedback. Find out what they liked
about your event, and what they would like to see improved in the future. In
addition, ask yourself what you thought went well and what you would do
differently if you had to organize this event again. Chronicle all your data and
keep accurate records so that you can refer to them the next time around.
9. Being a perpetual learner
We live in an information age and are surrounded by more stuff than we can
possibly cope with. However, successful people love it, as they are perpetual
learners. They know the pitfalls of relying on what worked in the past as a
guide to what will work in the future. Thatís why they constantly look for new
and improved ways of doing things, learning from the masters and staying open
and willing to try different approaches.
10. Keeping a sense of humor
If you donít laugh you cry and in the meeting industry thereís no lack of
situations where itís easy to shed a tear. Keeping a sense of humor will
definitely help prevent you getting mad, angry and frustrated with those
incompetent and disorganized suppliers. Learn to laugh at their mistakes as well
as your own to keep a saner perspective on life. If nothing else, remember that
laughing is good for your health and will help reduce your stress and blood
Written by Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, author:
ďMeeting & Event Planning for Dummies,Ē working with companies to
improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and
training. Go to http://www.thetradeshowcoach.com
to sign up for a free copy of ExhibitSmart Tips of the Week.