I make my living as a keynote speaker. I’m also just planned a wedding (Ok, let’s be real, I lovingly approved all of my wife’s fabulous choices), so I can say with some authority that I am way happier standing on the stage than I am trying to organize a major event. Did you know that there are people who care deeply about what kind of napkins you use? Did you know you can make someone cry by telling them you don’t really like chocolate cake? Well it’s true, and I don’t like it.
However, maybe you’re better at it than I am. So if you’re trying to decide whether or not a career as a meeting planner is right for you, here are 5 signs that you’re probably making the right decision.
You Love Logistics
Eisenhower said that the most impressive feat of the Allied victory in WWII wasn’t the military operation itself but rather the logistical machine that made sure all those thousands of troops got where they need to be, when they needed to be there, and with the supplies they needed to have. If that kind of organization chaos with a hundred moving parts gets you excited, then you are absolutely choosing the right career.
You Have A LOOOOOOOOT Of Patience
It is virtually impossible for an event to go off without a hitch. It’s also virtually impossible that you won’t get a few people complaining that the conference rooms are a bit too cold or that they just don’t understand why your catering company couldn’t make 500 individually prepared lunches. If you can handle those kinds of criticisms with equanimity, you’re in the right place. (Or you can take my approach, which is to tell all those people that they’re wrong for having a problem in the first place. Amazingly, that doesn’t go over so well.)
You Like Traveling
You’ll probably be doing some site visits to decide which hotel to use for your next conference. Personally that would be my favorite part of meeting planning, since I love traveling – but not everyone does. If you get queasy in cars or planes, you might be setting yourself up for a constant headache.
You Love Working With Others
You almost certainly won’t be planning many events alone. There will be other planners, coordinators, and volunteers – not to mention the various vendors you’ll be dealing with. Meeting planners are always surrounded by a lot of people, and those people often have the indecency to have their own opinions about things. The nerve of some people! So make sure you like working with others before you embark on the path to professional meeting planner.
You Get Excited When Things Go According To Plan
In my opinion, this is the most important one. Unfortunately, you’re not going to get a huge amount of praise when things go right, because your attendees are going to expect things to go right. They’ll certainly tell you if they don’t like something, but they’re far less likely to tell you how great everything was. So you need to be able to appreciate a successful event whether or not other people appreciate it with you. If you’re the kind of person who can take pride in a job well done whether or not others shower you with accolades, then look no further! You’ve found your calling.
I have an enormous amount of respect for meeting planners, partially because I know I couldn’t do your job but also because without you I wouldn’t have a career. We’ve come a long way with teleconferencing and virtual everything, but there is still no substitute for the kind of education, networking, and camaraderie we experience at real, live, actual events. You are the reason that any of those things ever happen. So thank you for what you do.
Now, can someone please tell me how to convince my fiancée that we don’t need a seating chart for our reception? Last I checked, everyone we’ve invited knew how to find a seat all by themselves.