By now we have explored many different skills and responsibilities of the meeting planner. Impressed? Well, we are not done yet. Have you ever been on an event where nothing, absolutely nothing went wrong? I don’t think so. For all small or big emergencies, you need to act quickly! Here are some examples.
The quick EMCEE
Conferences have such a busy schedule. For some participants this can be really confusing.
“I remember an emcee on a user conference, who jumped the gun on the agenda and hit the podium 45 minutes too early to make his housekeeping announcements. He nearly released 850 attendees to break (when there was no food set out yet) and upstaged the keynote speaker who was next up.
Luckily, I had a ‘notes’ function in the downstage monitor that allowed me to send a message only he could see: ‘Surprise! It’s your BOSSES turn to talk and THEN we’ll take a break. Groovy?’. I flashed it until he acknowledged with a small nod and he handled it like a pro by introducing the next speaker.” (Roberta Boucher, @ProEventGal)
Sometimes planners have to deal with unexpected, bad surprises, like defect technology, delayed speakers or… bugs.
“The reception was going to be held in an old barn, which has not been used for a week. When we arrived and opened the barn doors, my assistant and I screamed when we saw that the tables and the floor were COMPLETELY covered in bugs, spiders and mice. It was so terrible. We found an exterminator who was able to come out within an hour to spray the bugs and get the mice out. We kept guests at cocktail hour for an extra 45 minutes until the caterer could set the room. None of the vendors could eat their dinner knowing what had happened.” (anomynous)
Planners can also find themselves in really dangerous situations, as this story shows.
“I remember being on hand when one of our temporary registration staff members ate a meal that caused her a serious allergy. I called the hotel emergency to dispatch an ambulance, ran ddown to the gift shop to get a package of Benedryl, came back up to calm her down and watch her while we waited for emergency personnel to arrive. Her face was swollen and she was scared because her throat was closing slowly. At that moment, I was not the Meeting Planner she reported to during her temp assign, I was the person caring for her during an unexpected emergency that could have ended up badly.” (Kendra McMurray, @Meeting_Pro)
Please tell me what you think!
Can you tell us a story from your work as a planner that underline your skills? And what other skills do you have? Leave a comment or send a tweet with the hashtag #PlannersAre. Let’s show the industry how broad the capacities of a meeting planner are.
Finally I want to thank Roberta Boucher and Kendra McMurray for their valuable input. More planner stories? Join my discussion group on LinkedIn.