Sunday, March 10, 2013

Planner...or Conductor?

The ultimate fire and ice event
orchestrated by Cantrav Services.
At a recent conference, our (amazing) client commented, as the 200 guests arrived, that this was the part she liked best, when the six people who had been planning for months could now turn it over to the energy of the participants. I LOVE THIS perspective. I told her I loved it and would be turning this into a blog post, and here it is.

I am a huge fan of Benjamin Zander, a man, a speaker, a teacher, a classical music lover and a Conductor (Boston Philharmonic Orchestra) and find I am always moved by his messages.  In watching him enrapture a TED audience on an archived TEDTalk this week it made me think about the similarities between being a meeting planner and being a conductor.  First though, an obvious difference. When a CD of the orchestra is released, it will have a picture of the conductor on the cover, and this would be the exact opposite of what happens at a meeting, where the planner is in the background, typically by choice, certainly by the nature of the work, but the role in creation just as vital.

The similarities include a reliance on everyone around you to create a cohesive whole. An orchestra will have percussion, woodwinds, strings, brass, keys, and potentially featured artists to create a symphony, led by the conductor.  They may then combine this music to create an even greater whole, adding to opera, a play, an awards show, as examples.  Every single player has to be able to be fully responsible for their own part, and yet be part of the greater whole, cohesive in timing with everyone else, all guided by the conductor, rehearsed and yes, orchestrated.

As meeting planners we too have to bring together a group of supplier partners to create an event we have invested ourselves in, usually beginning with a proposal (and budget) sold, and now to be brought alive. We will work with parameters dictated by the venue, desired by the stakeholders, and set out to meet the objectives, and most importantly when we plan an event, there are no rehearsals!  A great meeting will have rehearsals for their general sessions, possibly gala awards, and maybe even dry runs for their breakout sessions but nobody gets to rehearse a reception or welcome event, or "mind blowing, unforgettable off-site event in a unique location". Understanding this will affect our ability to be great conductors, what steps should we / could we take? I have had the opportunity to lead teams on many multi-faceted projects, and share my ideas here, and welcome yours.
  1. First play the symphony. Play it through once and inspire your team. (with an event this is sharing the creative description and objectives)
  2. Lay it out, create the event version of the "musical score", critical path leading to a production schedule, floor plans, imagery, whatever it takes to tell the story.
  3. We MUST share this vision with everyone who is part of the team. Get their input, make sure they know their role, and are comfortable with everything it encompasses.
  4. Have everyone play nicely together. We don't get to have rehearsals but we can have a meeting ahead of time and run through it all from set through event to strike.
  5. Then, watch the magic happen.
There is magic in music, and there is definitely magic in the events we create, and seeing how people respond to what we have created... that is what keeps us wanting to create. But back to the beginning, the magic truly comes from the people, and yes, when we watch the guests arrive, feel their energy, their buzz and see them smiling, collaborating,  connecting, our invested energy, ultimately rewarded.

Voting currently available with winning choices announced in Toronto March 21, 2013. I appreciate your support - plus it is fun to see all the nominees!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you to Julius Solaris for also sharing this TED Talk with me