A. No problem. Everything’s under control.
B. It’s getting hairy. Big budget meeting this morning. Phone calls this afternoon to clear up contract issues. And my keynote speaker just bailed. Don’t know if I’ll make it to yoga/the train/daycare on time.
Don’t be surprised if that’s you. As meeting planners, you have one of the 10 most stressful jobs in the workforce, according to CareerCast.com’s 2015 ranking, right along with firefighters, police officers, military personnel and airplane pilots.
Sometimes your job feels like all those others rolled into one super-high-stress job. When you’re not putting out fires, you’re directing volunteers and attendees like a traffic cop. Managing the logistics for a major trade show can feel like trying to land a 747. And, like a CEO, the buck stops with you if something goes wrong.
“I think the biggest stress factor is balance, or rather lack thereof,” says Emma Dahl, of PeopleNet in Minnetonka, Minn. “There are a billion moving pieces involved in planning and executing a flawless event, all of which are top priority, and all seem to have the exact same deadline. Seriously, what’s up with that?”
Sometimes, the stress comes from managing incidents for which you couldn’t plan, like discovering your T-shirt supplier shorted you on XXLs, your primary sponsor’s swag bags are locked in a closet somewhere or the fancy AV system breaks down in the middle of your keynote speaker’s presentation.
“If stress burned calories, I’d be walking the runways in Milan instead of running for connecting flights,” says James Rota of Dazzle Creative Events in Palm Beach, Fla.
“When we are stressed, we often are unable to think clearly, and the downward spiral begins,” Rota says. “You become so focused on the stress triggers that it can be paralyzing, and you become less productive.”
Not to mention all those times you leaped tall buildings in a single bound, but nobody noticed or commended you on your flexibility and cool-headed management.
Kevin Iwamoto knows your pain. “Whenever I speak to an audience of meeting planners, I always commend them by saying, ‘Yours is the only job in which zero feedback is a measure of success.’ ”
Much of the stress of being a meeting planner comes from others’ unrealistic expectations, says Iwamoto, VP of industry strategy for Lanyon Solutions in Dallas, which designs automated systems for event planning.
“The baseline expectation of success for a meeting planner is 100 percent,” he says. “You’re not allowed any quotient of failure. Having a 100 percent execution on deliverables? If I had that kind of expectation for my job, I’d have to be committed.”
Stress is a natural component of the job for meeting and event planners. How you manage it – on the job and in your life – can help you become more successful and productive. In Part 2 of this series, our experts will identify 10 common sources of stress and provide solid advice for managing them. Here’s one to tide you over until then: Stay in the “now” instead of fretting about what “could” go wrong and don’t be afraid of the things that “might” happen.
What stress busters work for you? Please share in the comment box below. Now, breathe.