Experienced event planning and meeting professionals know that it is impossible to plan for everything. Even with weeks of preparation, a talented support team, and multiple contingency plans, it is inevitable that something – a last-minute change, a weather event, or an unreasonable request from a client – will derail your carefully laid plans, even if only temporarily.
In a profession that requires planning for the unknown, one of the most valuable skills to have is the ability to perform well under pressure. Here are five tips to help you perfect the art of thinking on your feet:
1. Develop a pre-event ritual.
Putting yourself in the right mindset before a major meeting will help you to keep your cool and power through any challenges that may come your way. Think about actions that are energizing and familiar to you, and build them into an event-morning ritual that will get you ready for a successful day of work. Your ritual might include a workout, your favorite breakfast, or an extra half hour to enjoy your morning coffee.
2. Stay calm and confident.
Remaining calm under pressure will help you project confidence and make effective decisions. Large events are very stressful, but keeping things in perspective can help you keep calm. In most cases, incidents that seem like catastrophes in the moment are really inconveniences that can be easily overcome.
3. Buy yourself time.
When you’re thinking on your feet, you might feel pressure to respond to questions immediately. It is okay to stall and give yourself a moment to collect your thoughts before you speak. Some ways to do this include repeating or paraphrasing what was said to you for clarity, focusing on direct communication, and simply pausing the conversation.
4. Save the blame.
In the event that something does go wrong at your meeting, reserve making judgments or assigning blame. In the rush of an event, communications sometimes break down and it is not always clear what transpired until later. As a leader, you should strive to make your team look good and avoid going on the defensive.
5. Review your own performance after each event.
Whether there was a major mix-up or everything was smooth sailing, take the time to honestly review your performance at each event. Identify your strongest areas, and where you could stand to improve. This exercise will build self-awareness, which leads to confidence.
Hosting your next meeting at a top venue can help make your role as a planner less stressful. Contact us today to learn about AMA Executive Conference Center’s convenient locations in Atlanta, New York City, San Francisco and Washington DC.