The One Attendee Whose Needs You Might Be Missing

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By EDGE Women Speaker Debbie Vyskocil

Event and meeting planners often are so busy they don't have time to enjoy the event process they have worked so hard to create.

Do you remember why you initially entered this business?

At 10 pm Ann does her final check-in with her clients who are in the hotel bar laughing and drinking. Their event is officially finished for the day and the clients appear very happy. Another successful day! They ask her to join them and have fun, but she has to confirm details for tomorrow where it all begins again at 7 am. There are emails to be checked and the final polish needs to be done on a proposal for an upcoming conference for another client. 

It is 12:30 am when she finally falls asleep; only to be awoken at 5 am by her alarm. Without this early morning run to the gym, Ann knows she would never survive these jam-packed days. With 3,000 people at her event, there is a good chance at least one will be in the gym, but ear-buds in hand she is off. “Great, an elliptical facing out the window and the sun rising over Denver!” She quiets all thoughts of work and practices her mindfulness meditation on the machine for the next 60 minutes. 

It takes discipline and great effort to take care of yourself during these conferences; Ann knows this too well. Is it worth it? Ann wouldn't hesitate to say yes! The moment she hits the conference floor at 7 am it is nonstop smiling, firefighting, and client hand holding.  

Self what?

Do you practice self-compassion? Self-compassion is the ability to be kind to ourselves. Do you remember the last time you had a massage, sat outside on a gorgeous day or took a walk just because it felt good? Your job description includes taking care of clients, but when do you take care of yourself? 

Psychologists say you can't love anyone else until you love yourself. Flight attendants tell us we need to put our oxygen mask on before helping others. Why is it such a challenge to be compassionate to ourselves in the same way we are to those we care about?

As a business owner, speaker, board member, EDGE founder, and self-admitted perfectionist, I am empathetic to my planner clients. It would be easy to be sucked into nonstop "doing", worn down from constant tasks, and eventually exhausted and used up. We are all most valuable to our families, our clients and ourselves if we can keep our emotional and physical sails tended. So I ask again when was the last time you were kind to yourself?

Really? Add one more item?

Old habits are hard to change and the life of a meeting or event planner is based on a calendar and commitments. Start with a commitment to yourself and an appointment on the calendar with someone else. We are much more likely to keep an appointment with others than with ourselves. Today schedule a hair blowout appointment, coffee with a friend or a walk with your spouse.

Each year I attend a conference with a friend from Dallas and one from Denver. We make a point of walking with coffee in hand, before sunrise to laugh and explore the city. It is our only time out of the conference center for the day and our only quiet time to rejuvenate. The difference in my day following that morning walk is indescribable and since I make the commitment to them, I never miss it. 

Simply put, treat yourself with the same compassion that you do a close friend. You would not expect your closest friends to be perfect or work without a break to rejuvenate. And they would never expect it from you.

Instead of being on your laptop the next time all attendees are in sessions, take 15 minutes for yourself. Congratulate yourself for a successful event and be mindful of the happiness of your current attendees. I am confident you will be reminded of your success in the eyes of your clients and attendees which will remind you why you are in this business.