Free Webcast Training Opportunities

M&C Meetings and Conventions is putting on two webcasts in the next two months that I thought I’d pass along to you. I love webcasts, because I can tune in to great training without the time or expense of travel.

June 18 Wednesday 2 pm ET
Risk Management Basics for Meeting Professionals
“You might not have the budget or resources to establish a high-level risk management program. However, all meeting professionals should put these essential measures in place to protect their organizations and attendees.”
CMP Credit: C Risk Management 1 hour
Moderator: Loren G. Edelstein, Editor in Chief, M&C
Speaker: Bruce McIndoe, CEO, iJet International

July 17, Thursday, 2 pm ET
How To Succeed at Strategic Meetings Management
“A strategic meetings management program is a big undertaking; in fact more SMMP efforts fail than succeed. We talk to experts about what approaches have worked best for them, and what they’re doing to build on their successes.”
CMP Credit: Strategic Planning, 1 hour.
Moderator: Michael J. Shapiro, M&C Senior Editor
Register at MCMAG.COM/WEBCASTS

You can also watch previous webcasts on topics ranging from avoiding contract disputes to creative menu planning on a budget.  Enjoy these helpful and convenient training opportunities. Do you know of any free webcasts coming up for event professionals? Leave the details in the comments section.

Five Reasons Event Planners Shouldn’t Quit After an Event

Thom Rainer recently wrote an excellent blog post entitled “Six Reasons Pastors Should Not Quit Their Jobs on Monday”.  Though I grew up in the home of a pastor, I’m not a pastor myself.  However, as I read this article, I could relate in a different way…as an event planner.  I know what it’s like to want to quit the day after an event.
business man with problems and stress in the officeIn his article, Rainer writes about the six most common reasons he hears for quitting and then offers sound reasoning in rebuttal.  While these reasons are taken directly from his article and geared towards pastors, I want to offer some encouragement from an event planner’s perspective on five of his points.

  1. “I am emotionally spent after planning this event.”  This is a valid statement, but if I can be honest, I think you should be emotionally spent after an event.  Plan each event with your heart, not just your mind and talents.  You should be emotionally invested in your events.  Now is the time for you to rest, recharge and be ready to pour yourself into your next event.
  2. “I have to prepare another event next month.”  Be grateful you have a position allowing for multiple events.  Not everyone has this luxury.  If your organization has given you this opportunity to plan, use your gifts for God’s glory.  Serve Him as you plan.  This is your ministry.
  3. “So many critics nitpicked at me during this event.”  You can’t please everyone.  Someone is going to complain about the food.  Not everyone will like the event speaker or theme.  The Wi-Fi connections will most likely be too slow, and the sound will be too loud.  Don’t take these things to heart.  If there are areas where large amounts of people complained, consider these in your evaluations.  However, if there was a complaint here and there, consider your sources, and proceed accordingly.
  4. “We had a bad event this weekend.”  What made your event bad?  Did your afternoon activities get rained out?  Was there a low turnout?  Did the production team miss the video cues?  Did your event speaker speak much longer than his or her allotted time?  Consider things you have control over and things that are just going to happen.  Things you think might have negatively impacted your event often seem much bigger in your mind than those of your participants.  Ask yourself, “Did we reach our intended goals in this event?  Was God glorified?   Did people leave encouraged, refreshed, enlightened and/or ready for their next steps?”  Think less about the little things and more about the big picture.
  5. “I am worn out.”  Yes, I know you are.  You just put on an event that has consumed your time and thoughts for days, weeks and months.  You have probably been away from your family.  Take these next few days to rest, reflect and ready yourself for the next event ahead.

Be encouraged, event planners!  Your job is not easy, and you often go unnoticed, but your ministry is helping equip others in so many ways!

Hiring Event Security

Safety for your event guests and presenters is on your short-list of top priorities. If you’ve decided to establish a security team for an upcoming event, here are a few things to consider.

A close up of the word security from a dictionaryDoes the event venue provide security? Do you need to request it or is it included in the rental price? How many security officers will be on site? Who do they report to? Whom should you contact in the event of an emergency?

What are you hoping a security team will do? Crowd control? A pre-event security assessment? Patrols? Emergency response? Think carefully about what you are hoping your security team will undertake, so that you’re ready to discuss these expectations with whomever you hire.

Will you go through a private security company, or find local people on your own? “Ted’s a big guy, let’s ask him what he’s doing Friday night.” Have you ever heard of someone hiring security this way? Professional security officers have received specialized training, and many states require that they be registered and or licensed.  You should familiarize yourself with the requirements for guards or security officers in the state where your event will be taking place. A private security company might be a great option for your event, www.guardstogo.com has officers all over the US. If you’re in North or South Carolina, you might check out www.pssprotection.com.

Contact your local police force as a resource. If you’re not able to find a private security firm that serves your area, give your local police station a call.  Perhaps there are off-duty police officers that are interested in doing a little freelance work. The major advantage to off-duty police officers is their depth of training, and their powers of arrest. This company http://offdutyservices.com specializes in matching off-duty police officers with clients.

Hiring event security is a big decision, take time to investigate several options, call references and think through emergency procedures with your team. Hopefully you will find a solution that fits, and use it again and again.

Online Media Resources

Some churches and organizations are blessed with a staff member designated to media, someone who can create videos, still backgrounds, motion backgrounds, countdowns and other graphics.  For those groups who might not have these people right down the hall to create media for their next service or event, there are a number of online resources specializing in these exact things.  Here are a few you can look at when preparing for your next event.

  1. Igniter Media – Igniter Media offers mini-movies, as well as stills and motions including countdowns, backgrounds, title graphics and multi-screen options.  You can subscribe as a monthly or yearly member to download great media options.
  2. Worship House Media – Worship House Media offers many of the same projects as Igniter Media.  Here you can download media a la carte from their website.
  3. Floodgate Productions – Floodgate Productions, like Igniter Media and Worship House Media, offers mini-movies and various motion options.  They offer a pay-per-video option or a yearly subscription service.  For smaller churches of 30 to 75 adults, they offer a discount in order to get videos/media into churches who might not be able to otherwise afford it.
  4. The Skit Guys – The Skit Guys offer their own comedic videos plus additional videos and motions at their website.
  5. Wing Clips – Wing Clips is an online resource offering movie clips you might need to help illustrate your theme or message.  You can search by movie title, Scripture, movie category or theme on their website.

One of the great things about each of these websites is you can preview videos before you buy them.  Doing this can often spark ideas for ways to incorporate your theme or message into other parts of your event, as well.

It is important to note there are licensing agreements you must adhere to with each different online company you use to download media.  These can be found on their websites, along with help sections to assist you in downloading your media content.

What online sources do you use to download media for your events?  Share them with us in the comments section below!

How To Deal With Negative Team Members

I work on several teams.  Teams at church.  Teams at work.  Teams as a contractor.

It’s important these teams have a single minded goal and are working to head in the right direction.

Every once in a while, you’re going to have a negative team member.  These team members can have a bad affect on the goal and objective of the team.  If that issue is not handled soon, it will have a long term affect on other members of the team.

I watched this recently on a team I was a part of.  The person was always negative in outside conversations we would have as well as various team meetings.  It started to wear on me personally.

I believe negative team members need to be dealt with swiftly.  The more their voice is heard, their attitude starts permeating through the team.  Talk with the team member first to analysis their negative attitude.  Maybe something is going on at home that is coming to work.

I believe negative team members need to be separated from the rest of the team.  Until their attitude improves, let them work on their own projects without interaction with the team.  Hopefully this will keep that attitude separated from the rest of the team, and even more will help the negative attitude correct itself.

I also believe the other team members need to work to correct the negative team member.  I got so tired of hearing from the negative team member that I started encouraging her to find a better situation.

It’s amazing what happens when the negative team member is removed from the team.  Our team is no cooking with gas (as we say in Arkansas.)  Without that spirit hanging over us in my opinion, there is no telling what we can do.  To be honest everyone else’s attitude is amazing as well.

While it might be difficult to deal with the negatively, you owe it to your other team members to deal with it.

The Power of a Smile

A few years ago I had the privilege of attending a conference at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The Broadmoor is a beautiful hotel with luxurious accommodations.  However, while I enjoyed the chocolate on my pillow each night, the amazing holiday decorations and the beautiful grounds, these weren’t the first things I told my husband about after I returned.  The one thing, above all else, I remember about the Broadmoor is the staff.  Every staff member, no matter his or her employment position, spoke to me and smiled.  It didn’t matter how busy they were or where they were headed – each person was trained to speak to guests and offer a warm smile.  They had great customer service.golden leaderDave Ramsey recently tweeted, “If you are happy notify your face. Others around you will be glad you did.”  I can’t imagine every employee at the Broadmoor was happy the entire time I was there.  However, I never saw a side of them that showed otherwise.  They were consistent in their attitudes towards guests.

I have often thought back to that conference, especially when preparing for an event or in the midst of hosting a conference.  Here are a few questions I now ask myself before, during and after the event:

  1. Am I truly happy to be a part of this event?  (If not, why am I spending my time planning, directing, hosting, evaluating, etc?)
  2. Do my guests visibly see my excitement for this event?  (If not, how can I adjust my attitudes and actions to reflect my enthusiasm?)
  3. Is my positive attitude reflected in other event staff and volunteers?  (If not, what type of environment am I fostering for my team?  Am I creating a contagious mood of excitement?)
  4. When plans don’t go as expected, is my reaction met with a smile and a sense of calm?  (If not, how can I better prepare for the unexpected?)

How are you reflecting your attitudes about the conferences and events you are planning?  Others will sense your feelings and most likely emulate them.   Choose today to make a conscious effort to smile and say a nice word to all of your guests at your next event.  From registration to meal times to large group sessions, instill a sense of excitement among your event team.  I guarantee your guests will notice!

Event Planning Publications

I love print publications, turning the pages, hearing from different authors, tagging articles for reference with sticky notes, and sometimes tearing out photos to add to my idea folders.

If you’re looking for a print publication to help inspire and guide you, you might want to subscribe to one of these event-focused magazines.  Here’s a quick run down of what they offer and how often they are published. All of the magazines listed here are free to receive!

  1. eventmarketer.com This magazine is geared towards those marketing an event- online, in person, and through print advertising. It is published bimonthly. You can also sign up for a biweekly electronic newsletter.
  2. bizbash.com “Event planning news, ideas and resources.” Published quarterly. If you are a visual person you’ll enjoy the array of beautiful photos on the website and in the magazine.
  3. rejuvenatemeetings.com Inspiration and ideas for faith-based planners. Published bimonthly. Their website site also offers regional guides for different spots in the US for event planners.
  4. meetings-conventions.com From event furniture trends to new airline policies this magazine looks at large and small issues effecting event planners and their many responsibilities. Published monthly.

Where do you need fresh inspiration? Do you need to research new technology, communication or management strategy? Think about your particular needs and how one or more of these publications might serve you. Where do you find most of your inspiration? Please share in the comments section so that others can benefit!

“All Is Lost” and Your Events

Have you watched a movie, read a book or listened to a song that stuck with you for a while?  That happened to me recently.

I watched a movie called “All Is Lost” that has really affected me.  The movie features one actor, Robert Redford and tells the story of his journey on a ship sailing across the Indian Ocean.

Redford’s character is simply named “Our Man.” Watching this movie made me think of about 3 things about how we live life:

  1. We’re not made to go through life alone. The whole movie features Our Man in the middle of the ocean by himself.  I would go nuts not having someone to talk too.  Matter of fact while watching this movie alone, I talked to the screen.  Life is meant to live with friends and family.
  2. We need the right tools to live life. I don’t want to give the movie away (until we get to the next point), but all the way through it, Our Man keeps looking at his compass. He needs that to make it home, or at least try to make it home. At one point he fires off a couple of flares. Without these tools, he’s lost in the middle of the ocean.
  3. SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read this if you’re going to see the movie.  Sometimes a helping hand comes when you least expect it.  Our Man gets that hand when he finally gives up.  Every once in a while, God sends that person along to help us right when we need it.

I would imagine when the producers set out to make this movie, they didn’t think I would have these takeaways.  The same applies for your events.  Participants will surprise you with what sticks with them after your event.

As we wrap up this blog, I would encourage you to look for takeaways and inspiration from any piece of art.  These might be inspirations that even surprise you!

A Word of Encouragement

We all need encouragement.  Retreats often provide a great opportunity for spiritual renewal and foster an environment for encouragement.  Not every event lends itself to set times for encouragement, but if yours does, consider incorporating an activity that allows participants to encourage and be encouraged.Thank YouHere are a few ideas for encouragement activities you can do at your next retreat:

  1. A Pat on the Back:  Tape a piece of paper on each participant’s back.  Have all the participants write an encouraging word describing that person on the paper with a marker.  When everyone has written on each person’s back, they can take the paper off and spend a few moments reading what others wrote.  (Note:  this activity requires a little bit of space and light activity as participants walk around to write on each back.)
  2. Snapshot of Encouragement:  This activity is similar to the one described above with a few twists.   One-by-one, have each participant sit with his/her back to a dry-erase board.  The other participants write a word describing that person on the board.  When everyone has finished, take a photo of the person sitting in front of the dry-erase board and then erase it.  After the retreat, print and mail or email these pictures to each participant.  (Note:  this activity takes a bit longer since each person goes one-by-one.  You may need to divide your group into smaller numbers depending on your size.)
  3. Secret Messages:  Before your retreat, write each participant’s name on a manila envelope.  Hang these on a wall or bulletin board in a common area.  Throughout your event, have participants write encouraging notes to each other on provided slips of paper, and place each of these notes in the corresponding envelopes.  At the end of your retreat, give each participant his/her envelope.  (Note:  Announce this activity at the opening of your retreat so the participants will have ample time to write notes.  Encourage each participant to write a note for everyone attending.)

These are just a few encouragement activities you can try at your next retreat.  While these are designed for smaller events, you can adjust how these are implemented to accommodate larger groups.  The easiest way to do this is to divide your group into smaller numbers.  As an added bonus, these activities provide a tangible take-home for participants to remember the retreat.  Make sure to include yourself (as the event planner) in this activity too!  Even you can use a word of encouragement, especially in the hustle and bustle of your retreat.

Complaints, Confrontations, and Verbal Attacks, O My!

Maybe, as a planning professional, you don’t see as many frustrated guests as those with “boots on the ground” during an event.  But, even if you don’t deal directly with discontented guests, you need to train your support staff on responding with grace, calm, strength and professionalism.

  • Grace. As Christians, we come at this challenge with, I believe, an extra tool. We have seen God extend His grace to us, time after time when we are frustrated, angry, whiney, or disappointed. Extend that same grace to your frustrated guests. Instead of a “this again” attitude, pray that God will give you wisdom to see past their attitude and problem, to a person that is important to God.
  • Calm. Take a deep breath and know that a calm attitude on your part is the appropriate response. This may go without saying, but escalating through gestures, tone, or voice level will NOT help the situation. “A soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Prov. 15:1)
  • Strength. Just because you are extending grace, and responding in a calm way, does not mean you must give in to every demand. There are some guidelines that can’t be broken, no matter how much they upset someone. Along the same vein, no matter how much my children beg, they cannot play in the street. It isn’t. going. to. happen. If you can’t give the guest what they are hoping for, go deeper. What is the underlying issue? Can you address that in a different way?
  • Professionalism. Responding to difficult, frustrated guests is part of your job, see it as such. Imagine getting a performance review after each encounter. What did you do correctly? Incorrectly? How could you improve? This is a part of your job, not an argument to “win” or “lose”.

What are some strategies you have found helpful in dealing with irritated, angry guests? How do you train your team of event professionals to handle these situations?