There can be little doubt that firefighters, police officers and airline pilots are ranked among the highest-stress professions. However, did you know that event coordinators and meeting planners also consistently appear among the annual Top Ten Most Stressful Jobs?
For more than a decade, event management and meeting planning was my career of choice. During that time, I had the opportunity to work with Harry Rosen (himself) and the Hugo Boss brand, and I mixed and mingled with Formula One race car drivers. A few years later, I coordinated my first big conference for a national association. It took place at the convention centre in Vancouver as well as three separate hotels. There were a lot of moving parts in that manifesto and thankfully it came together without any major misses.
Over the years, my onsite tool kit grew to include essentials such as: multiple pairs of shoes, aspirin, water, scissors, music for setup and tear-down, phone numbers for local eateries for the crew, directions to the business centre, a cheat sheet of all the venue team’s names, extra copies of the itinerary (soft copy back-up) and a Swiss pocket knife to start. Oh and, I almost forgot to mention the duct tape! I’ll never forget hemming a keynote speaker’s pants backstage with duct tape. It was a lifesaver!
While all of these items were important, I learned that many of the critical ingredients to a successful event were much less tangible. These included an unfailing sense of humour, a huge amount of patience, a firm belief that everything would work out wonderfully and remarkable teamwork and synergy among everyone involved.
Thanks to the visible and less visible items in my tool kit I always tried to be prepared for the unexpected…such as when Don Cherry invited two thousand folks onto a stage that was designed for him and Ron MacLean! Talk about a stressful moment! I will admit my blood pressure rose several notches at the time, but looking back, it sure makes for a great story!