Saturday, September 24, 2016

So You Think You Can

Brian Dennehy captured this amazing
moment at an I event I produced while
working at Cantrav
So you think you can be an event professional? Well you can. But it won't be what you expect, and it definitely won't be as easy as you imagine it will be. 

Five years ago (!) I wrote a post on 23 areas you need to be an expert on to be a meeting professional. If anything this list has grown, with an even greater emphasis on both risk management and technology in all its forms. This ranges now from business management to data acquisition, privacy and data analysis for your own business and your clients and ultimately the event and of course, event participants

There is a reason that Career Cast lists event professional in the top 5 most stressful jobs, right after military officers, police officers, firefighters and airline pilots. I would like to point out that rarely is our actual life on the line, but we do have numerous stakeholders from C-level executives and their direct reports, marketing teams, sponsors, exhibitors and participants; and an environment which we imagine and then rely on often dozens of supplier partners we can inspire but don't control, a team of staff, volunteers, performers, presenters and yes, participants to bring our event to life. We do this all in the immediate view of anyone attending our events live PLUS all those following their perspective of our events as shared in visual content on multiple streams of social media or traditional media. We now have to please live participants and virtual attendees in many cases, and all have their own needs. EVERY person attending has made an investment in our event, and everyone deserves the best we can deliver.

So what does it take? It is a combination of attitude and aptitude, hard-won experience and yes, education. Since this post I wrote - also in 2011 - about education  vs experience I have recertified my CMP, obtained my Digital Event Strategist (DES) and am working towards my Certified Event Designer (CED) designations. Why? I recognize that to continue to deliver what our clients demand, we have to stay ahead of the curve, defeat the status quo, pay attention to the changing consumer, and continue to LOVE what we do. Do I think you need certifications to be a skilled, savvy, fantastic event professional? Of course not - there are many people who have entered this industry from a variety of backgrounds and who understand experience creation, branding, client service and are creative or logistic geniuses with excellent careers and clients. Do I believe if you are starting out or desiring you should take the (precious) time and take advantage of the education available both formal and informal, through universities and associations? YES. 

Is it daunting? Often. Is it do-able? Heck YES. Do you have to truly, deeply, madly want to deliver unequaled experiences that change people's lives? YES. 

Please, share what you LOVE about being an event professional, I would love to hear!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

My Top Eventprofs Reads for 2016

Inspired by others sharing their top ready, below are books I have read, use to teach with, have learned from or think you will find useful as you build or evolve in your event / meeting career. From the "basics" to the inspirational, these are among the best I have found across the sectors that are driving us forward.

  1. Convention Industry Council's 9th Edition because it is the base for the CMP exam for a reason. If you are seriously into planning meetings, and believe in lifelong learning, and work somewhere that recognizes the benefits of this designation, or want to, this is a good read for you. A nice companion read is Professional Meeting Management, 6th edition.
  2. Event Design Handbook - Roel Frissen, Ruud Jannsen and Dennis Luijer. This builds the story of the #EventCanvas which captures the process of design - from building stakeholder empathy maps, why this matters and defining needs, goals and measurements - both real and visceral. It lays it out in a way that is systematic and ultimately for your event owner - compelling. As a book, it is (of course) really well designed and therefore both easy to read and to pull relevant content from.
  3. Winners Dream by Bill McDermott. Why do meetings and incentives matter? This explains why - from the perspective of this CEO. 
  4. Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Meetings and Events Industry by Elizabeth Henderson and Mariela McIlwraith. We share one world, we have the ability to have the biggest impact on it - much of it positive once we understand our power and pay attention to the planning and design process with an eye on sustainability. This book breaks it down without being preachy.
  5. Gamestorming A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers and Changemakers. Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo. If you don't like the title, this is not the book for you. That's okay. If you want to work with your teams and committees and even on-site at your events to change up formats and deliver more actionable learning, this is a great book for you.
  6. Resonate by Nancy Duarte. If you are a content creator, an event producer, or just love the way storytelling can be used to deliver great messages, this book is practical, has lots of great examples and will spark new ways to deliver content well - and make every presenter you share it with look better too.
  7. Trending Topic by Gerrit Heijkoop and Paula Vos is described as a 'management novel' and it really is just this - an easy read that you learn from. If you are thinking you still don't really understand social media or how it can benefit your meeting, event or association and its members, this book is an easy way to create understanding. Social media is simply another medium we need to understand as event professionals, and this makes the learning, yes, fun.
  8. Wine Drinking for Creative Thinking by Michael Gelb. If you know me - the title says it all. If you want to delve into the process of creativity, enjoy some great storytelling, and pair it with chocolate, this is exactly the book to do it with.
Happy reading!