A meeting planner by MY definition is the go-to person within an organization – be it corporate, association or otherwise – charged with the responsibility of planning and executing a meeting or special event.
Not all people who plan meetings are “meeting planners,” nor do all meeting planners start out their careers as meeting planners. I for one started out on a clerical/administrative career path with absolutely no knowledge at the time that a career in meeting planning even existed (and at the time it probably didn’t). Truth be told, I had no intention when I first returned to the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom of working for the rest of my life or until heaven forbid, retirement. But as it turns out, that’s exactly what I did.
The first time I became involved in planning meetings was in my role as an office manager/prospect donor researcher in the Grants and Development Office of a state university. Our office reported to a Board of Trustees and was responsible for planning and executing quarterly board meetings and eventually group informational meetings with corporate CEOs to educate them on a major development campaign the university was embarking on. Not only did I set the meetings up, but I also took notes (in shorthand no less), transcribed the notes and prepared final reports for dissemination. Did I think of this as meeting planning? I did not. Did I know the difference between a board room or conference room set and a classroom set? I did not. BUT, I learned and I learned quickly by making some mistakes early on.
What I also learned was that I liked what I was doing and that I was good at it – or had the potential to be. I believe meeting planners and administrative professionals possess similar skills/traits that enable them to be good at what they do. They typically are leaders (even though they may not realize this at first). They also tend to be strategic, analytical, solution-oriented and disciplined. They have a logical way of looking at a project and understanding what needs to be done to ensure success, They have an innate ability to see the big picture — to take a look at a project and break it down action item by action item, and create a systematic/timely order for meeting goals. Most importantly, their attention to detail is second to none.[Read more…]