It wasn’t too long after starting my job as communications director for a national healthcare firm, when the president appeared at my desk one day. “It time we start planning our annual conference and by we, I mean you,” he calmly stated. The blank stare on my face was hiding the sheer panic in my mind and my racing heart.
Over the years, I came to realize I am not the only one whose meeting planning career wasn’t part of the original plan. I have met meeting planners who started as nurses, engineers, musicians, computer programmers, scientists, and yoga instructors–all accidental planners. Whether through volunteer work in their field or as job responsibility in a large corporation, they were drawn into the role of producing a meeting.
All of us have fumbled our way through learning about budgets, how many people a gallon of coffee will serve, meeting room sets, why good AV is so vital, and how temperamental VIPs can act. Dealing with the simple logistics before we ever heard anything about the ROI or meeting architecture.
Luckily for me, meeting planning was a natural fit. As the company grew, so did my professional skills until the day when I became the Director of Conference Management. But I have never forgotten my first meeting.
So for all of the accidental planners out there, I feel your pain. In an effort to help, we have put together a 12-Step Program called Event Planning 101. This list will at least get you started asking the right questions and learning a few of the fundamentals involved in planning a meeting. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?