Archive for the ‘Meeting Management’ category

Tips on Looking for Work

August 24th, 2011

A lot of folks are looking for work. They go on interviews for positions they will take for the money and hate getting up to. They settle while their regret eats at them and their spirit erodes. There is less of them to give to their families because they struggle for self esteem. Dreaming and a spirit of gratitude appear impossible.
For those of you in jobs that inspire and ignite you find life exciting and your magnetism floats as you rise to the top of your career. You look forward to each day as adventure unfolds and your dreams are bigger than the fabulous life you lead. People smile around you and there is an instant aura the brightens a room when you arrive.
So how do those in the first paragraph find their path to the second? This is a tough economy and the Pollyanna approach is drinking the kool-aid toward insanity. Forget about finding my purpose! I just want a JOB! And back they go to the scenario first described.
• OK so let’s go back to Pollyanna – a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything. What can we take from a spirit of irrepressible optimism? Try some of these steps and let me know how you feel. You will need pen and paper … preferably a notebook to journal your progress.
• Write down the things you enjoy in your current job. You can turn the paper over and write the things you don’t enjoy since your brain may gravitate to that side and it is good to be clear on the things that are eating you so you don’t go back there. Keep your pros on cons list so this life experience is never lost. You are on a journey now and each brick is important to recognize as part of our life and how we choose our path to greatness. You aren’t going to quit your current job until you create a solid path toward a healthy future so find those things you enjoy and your focus on those things will make them multiply.
• Write the characteristics of your dream job. What will you do in exchange for money? Obviously if your dream job is drinking beer in front of the TV you won’t earn enough to eat and I am not sure there is an abundance of those jobs out there. Describe your passions and talents and don’t worry so much about fitting a mold. Things like helping people, working with my hands, budgets, spreadsheets, numbers, creative writing, designing, working outdoors, being part of a team. Some of these resonate and some of these make you cringe.
• Write descriptive adjectives about yourself. You can choose from this list of a few samples or come up with those that really describe the unique character that is stored deep within. Analytical, witty, compassionate, loyal, independent thinker, adventurous, flexible, dependable, conceptual, optimistic, imaginative, prepared, logical, spontaneous, sincere, concerned, inventive, impactful, personal, organized, curious, competitive, enthusiastic, thorough. We are all colors!
• Take an interests exam. Invest that much in yourself to identify your passion and the careers associated with those. I took the Strong Campbell Interest exam when I first decided to work on a career path as opposed to finding a job. It led me to the medical field because I enjoy helping others. Hospitals and hospitality are kin. They are both healing centers but one makes you laugh and the other makes you think. My life long journey has been hospitality and I have enjoyed a career mere mortals could not dream about.
• Learn the skills you need to fulfill your dream. Sometimes that means classes, workshops, tech school. Sometimes it is finding a mentor or 3 and adding value to their lives while they inject wisdom and spirit into yours. Sometimes it is being open to learn your craft on the lowest level and allow life to unfold while you have a clear but flexible path outlined. You may find a volunteer role that allows you to practice and gain related experience. I engaged all of these suggestions throughout all sectors of my career.
• KEEP DREAMING. Create a vision board. Set goals. Associate with positive people. Keep your affirmations in front of you reminding yourself how good you are and enjoy the journey. Turn off the TV and try very hard to eliminate the negative forces in your life. Worry and fear will tear you down. Take a proactive approach to those things that cause concern and get excited about working through the details.
In closing I share a couple of famous quotes and my own sparkle of truth. “Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.” Ralph Waldo Emerson “We tell the real truth of our life by the stories we repeatedly tell. Dare to dream of your great success. Become intimate with those things which deeply motivate you and regularly work toward the realization of that mission.” Mary Anne Radmacher
To thine own self be true. We are only going around once so let’s grab all the gusto we can get. Be memorable and leave a legacy.

10 Tips When Speaking of Speakers

June 12th, 2011

You are in charge of orchestrating a meeting and need to hire speakers. Ask the following questions to keep on task:Laura Schwartz

  1. What are the burning issues? Zoom in on the topics that need to be covered and the primary learning objectives.
  2. What style of speaker do you need? Is the purpose to inspire, educate, entertain or technical. You may chose an industry expert, a professional speaker or professional entertainer.  My favorite is an “edu-tainer” who is theatrical, motivational, speaks on the latest trends and leaves you with an action step checklist.
  3. How much time does the speaker have to cover their topic? Speakers need to customize their presentation to fit into the allotted timeframe and leave time for Q&A.
  4. Where do you find speakers? They are everywhere! You may connect with them on Linked In, at a conference, in a networking group, your industry associations, speakers bureaus (local, regional, state, national and international Speakers Association), convention and visitors bureau, chamber of commerce or ask industry professionals for referrals.
  5. Once you find a speaker that sounds good, what is next? Check out their website. Ask for a demo. Get a list of references and be sure to contact them personally for greater insight. I once read speaker reviews and brought in a “rock star speaker” who turned out to be from the stone age.
  6. Does the speaker have a contract? No matter what, get it ALL in writing. If your speaker has their own contract, review it carefully. If you need to write the speaking terms of agreement be sure you include everything you have agreed in terms that are complete with no instruction left out. Will they be permitted to self promote? If so, will a book signing table be needed for back of the room sales?
  7. Who is paying for what? Be sure to outline what the speaking fee is and if that includes ground transportation to and from the hotel, airport and/or home. Are meals and accommodations included? Are you making their arrangements or will they make them and be reimbursed? Be sure to do the check requests to insure prompt payments at the appropriate intervals.
  8. Will they have hand outs? It is important to have a memorable take away of some sort. If there is going to be something available, announce that in the beginning of the presentation so attendees are not scribbling every word and missing keys points. Who is printing and paying for these or will they be available on line? If materials are being shipped, where will they be sent and by what date? Nothing could be worse than having boxes shipped to the wrong place or arrive after the presentation.
  9. What are the speaker’s audio visual requirements? Much will depend on the size of your audience but few meetings take place that do not require a computer, LCD projector, screen, microphone, sound system, lectern and stage. We’ve all sat through the “death by power point” presentations and the emotional “here is how I did it” inspirations so be sure your speaker is engaging and requires audience participation throughout their performance.
  10. What should you ask for to promote their message? Get a CURRENT photo (I am thinking of the “rock star”), bio, engaging topic title, topic description and learning objectives. These items can be shared in your pre-marketing material and/or program headlines.

Be sure to send out surveys requiring feedback from attendees following the program. Communicate the results to the speaker and the venue since this is a helpful tool to keep all partners on the path of improvement and praise. Scorecards help shine the light on what we are doing well and what we can work on to sharpen our skills. Keep track of each speaker’s scorecard and write referrals for the highest achievers. Bring them back to let your audience know you their voice matters.

It has been my pleasure to work with so many wonderful speakers, authors and entertainers. There are many gifted experts that may be in your backyard and not require long hauls, overnight stays and additional fees. Talent does not have geographic boundaries. Consider degrees of the goal you can accomplish within your budget and negotiate a fair deal where all parties win. A2Z Meetings & Events is always happy to help!

14 Important Traits Clients Look For in Meeting Planners

May 24th, 2011

In all relationships TCBR003593RUST is the most important element to having and maintaining open communication.  So many companies out there can be vendors, suppliers and meeting professionals, but to become a trusted advisor to your clients is an invaluable and immeasurable level of achievement. Once attained, this will be one of the most important attribute to carry. Beyond knowing, liking and trusting there are other traits that are critical in an independent meeting planner relationship. See if any of these are on your list and if there are any I have missed:

  • Planners are most valuable when they help clients identify specific meeting goals and then recommend strategies and tactics to achieve them. Clients appreciate meeting planners that have the ability to think and act strategically.
  • Meeting planners must handle the pressure with a smile and manage contingency plans seamlessly.
  • Great meeting planners must have the ability to create and manage the budget. This relates to both revenue and expense lines.
  • Organization is a critical trait for meeting planners. As the liaison between the venue and the client it makes all the difference in the success when the planner can make swift decisions and keep it all together.
  • Cost driven creativity is invaluable and can more than pay for the relationship! Knowing where to go to for the best values in all components of your meeting and utilizing their long-term relationships saves time, money and stress while adding a lot of extra sizzle. 
  • Excellent meeting planners understand the client’s vision and deliver with an extra “wow” factor.
  •  Look for an upbeat person who does not “lose it” under pressure. When it is show time you need to be watching all angles.
  • Find a planner who is able to make decisions on the fly and is a good negotiator.
  • Check to be sure your planner is easily reached by phone and email.
  • An excellent meeting planner is able to execute flawlessly details of a plan with very broad direction. Good judgment on when to bother the client with changes to the event, and when to just execute.
  •  Planners must be on time, on target and on budget ready to execute Plan A, B and if necessary Plan C.  
  • Integrity and the ability to present clients with various options highlighting cost-effective solutions without compromising quality/results.
  • Transparency in pricing the contracted services is vital. Planners may be paid commission, some do mark ups, some work on flat fees, some charge by the hour, week or project and any combination of these.
It is not critical that this trusted adviser be an employee of your organization. They tend to thrive on the excitement of variety so you don’t pay them when you don’t need them. Typically cost is offset through savings of time, stress and just knowing when and what is negotiable. They are seasoned in the questions to ask that are not spelled out, which can save grief if surprises get in the way. Can you think of other traits you would need in this relationship?

Memorable Moments

January 2nd, 2011

Create a Memory Box

Each year it gets more difficult to produce a meaningful gift for those who have everything. The ads that speak of the price of various items that represent a sign of caring and then the one that is marked “priceless” is the quest each year  … and this year we accomplished the goal.
   2010 was a year of many great losses with family, friends and loved ones. Encouraging words and silly memories have kept our spirits alive and contagious. We actually discovered our humble beginnings created the foundation for drive, determination and success. Each person sharing their own special memory ignited ideas of new ones that had been lost. The gift was a gift from the hearts of many and everyone shared in the gift meant for two.
Write down YOUR memories and share them with those you truly love. Create a tradition to add to the mememory boxmory box each year and create a priceless gift of your own. Build a bucket list of memories to attain in 2011. We found this box and printed our memories on business card stock. It made each memory consistant in size, on a good card stock and easy to punch out rather than lots of cutting and flimsy strips of paper. After the gift was prepared with photos to accompany many of the memories, every contributor got a copy of the finished memories from all involved. Some members did not contribute at that time but have time to contribute as they desire … the gift keeps on giving.
I tried the concept out on a few friends from Southwest Florida. The email string became deep and wide and before you knew it, there were hundreds of good times that we had lost touch with that were revived like buried treasures. Keeping relationships alive can be work but work that pays in rich benefits. This is a meaningful gift for friends, family, colleagues and clients. Help expand on this idea so we all continue to enrich one another!
Memorable Meetings & Exceptional Events is a passion at A2Z Meetings & Events. Creative ideas and proven concepts will keep your attendees talking about your meetings and events. Let them know they are special. Tell them why you are taking them away from their friends and family and what they will gain as a result of their investment.
Contact us at to save time, money and stress in the new year.

Ten Tips for an Effective Meeting Manager in 28 days

September 5th, 2010

First the story … then the tips!

Six weeks before the annual conference for 600 people is not the best time to begin your search for a meeting manager … four weeks is even less desirable. I had submitted my initial proposal about 75 days prior to major arrivals and followed up regularly without being a stalker. It was a complex program and I was doing my research a couple of times a week to see what new nuggets might appear that would give me some talking points. I knew my references had been checked so I was curious why we weren’t moving forward.
love to workFinally! Twenty eight days prior to major arrivals I get the call and it is all systems go! Some of the things that were completed were:
  • Research and secure an exhibit services company. Get the exhibit packets to the exhibitors, do floor plans, work on signage and security.
  • Schedule and hire temporary staff for registration and badge checkers. Also find and schedule security guards for the meeting rooms.
  • Find and schedule volunteers for technical duties. Find flights and ground transportation and manage reimbursement.
  • Work with the hotel on VIPs, staff rooms, speaker needs, menus, staff meals, transportation, amenities, and all special considerations in the contract. Speaker needs included hiring models, arranging piano delivery and researching translators.
  • Work with the committee chairs to tie loose ends and work it into the overall theme and timeline.
  • Review and print a 28 page program. Research several printers for price, delivery date and quality less than a week before the show.
  • Work on stage décor and miscellaneous audio visual pieces.
  • Write the survey content for daily feedback and print 3000 sheets.
  • Supervise the delivery and inventory of stored equipment.
  • Review no-shows and reservations changes daily.
  • Attend the pre-convention meeting to be sure we are set up for success. Maintain daily contact with the chairman’s needs and the hotel making changes as needed.
  • Research nightlife and plan social events.
There were moments when I felt like a firefighter … little blazes would erupt that required immediate attention and blazes were popping like popcorn all around us. We managed each blaze with a smile to keep everyone around us calm. The excitement was exhilarating AND EXHAUSTING but the show needed to go on. Once the first day was behind us, we knew the majority of the opportunities had surfaced and the program was in motion. The chairman was able to socialize with the attendees and knew that the meeting management was secure.  I made lots of new friends and was able to use my network of supplier friends to create great value for my client. We presented ourselves as a cohesive team so there was trust and warm greetings.
So here are the 10 tips for an Effective Meeting Manager:
  1. Ask lots of questions so the goals are clear. Get to know the key players and ask for advice.
  2. Prioritize those items that require more lead time and keep a checklist of those things that still need attention.
  3. Present at least 3 bids and be sure you are working with people who respond to deadlines
  4. Use the convention bureau for local referrals
  5. Don’t engage in SWAMP (Speaking Without a Meaningful Purpose) talk regardless of the pressure around you.
  6. SMILE even when your eyes are bloody from no sleep.
  7. Partner with the convention services manager to be sure they know your needs as they are ultraistic service folks who enjoy solving problems and they are POWERFUL! Respect the time the convention service manager is spending on the group. Insist they go home when there is no longer a need for them to be around. They are easy to reach if there really IS a problem you can’t handle.
  8. Watch the bottom line. Don’t say no … suggest alternatives that provide savings and be sure to praise generously.
  9. Manage the budget daily and get the final approved bill to the client within 10 days of the final guest’s departure.
  10. The final test of an effective meeting manager is when their fee is paid for with the savings the group enjoys.
I am pleased to say that my greatest reward is not the praise and testimonials, although those are exciting. The greatest reward is to earn the status as their trusted meeting planner and I will be planning and managing their meetings in the future.
If you know anyone who needs an effective meeting manager, please contact A2Z Meetings & Events at 813-990-0950 or It would bring me joy to put the pieces together for YOUR next successful event.