By Barbara Ann Cox, CMP
As a meeting manager, you orchestrate a variety of events — board meetings, educational seminars, regional caucuses, full blown conferences, to name a few. You are organized, efficient, effective and politically correct. You prepare. You plan. You pray.
Whatever the situation, the association meeting manager must depend on others to assist with the many arduous and tedious tasks that are accomplished on site. As an association meeting manager, you largely depend upon your fellow co-workers as well as volunteer members to provide over-and-above — and deeply appreciated — assistance during the event. Their daily jobs may not be remotely related to event management; nevertheless, they rise to the occasion.
Most likely, this select group of individuals attends the event with a certain degree of commitment to its success and the desire that their association excels. However, some on-site workers have their own attitude and agenda that can be a bit disruptive to the otherwise smooth-sailing event. Here is a whimsical look at the various types of on-site staff that, you as a meeting manager, must manage while managing your meeting.
“This box is too heavy.” “When can I take a break?” “Seven AM? Why so early?” Wally Whiner whines about everything, all the time. It is too hot, too cold, too far, too much, too late. He is like nails on a chalkboard. You could just slap him.
You fantasize about stuffing Patty Panic in the trunk of your car for the duration of the event. She goes ballistic at every turn. She turns ordinarily nice people into frazzled neurotics. Her knee-jerk reaction to every situation creates stressed nerves, needless anxiety and possibly hives. She thrives on the chaos she causes. A smooth-running conference really ticks her off.
Ned Negative’s knee-jerk reaction to every situation is doom and gloom. He forecasts the future of the event, hour by hour, minute by minute, as one of disaster anticipating the next disaster. His mission in life is to finger the weakness of whatever successes prevail. He would look good with a plastic bag over his head, tied tightly around his neck.
Gloria Goodness nurtures. She mothers. She’s probably a Pisces. Gloria Goodness has a sympathetic ear to even the most egregious story of lost registration, lost nametag, lost checkbook, lost identity. She consoles. She soothes. She disrupts the agenda you have under “Rules & Regulations.” She belongs in the First Aid Room.
Harry Hotshot comes into headquarters with his shirt buttons bursting of bravado and good will. What can he do? How can he help? Where can he serve? One firm request for assistance has Harry Hotshot bolting for the door with a litany of excuses that trail the length of the convention center. You hope he keeps heading for the exits . . . all of them.
Nora Knowitall probably runs the association’s birthday parties. This gives her the infinite wisdom to be highly knowledgeable about every essential detail of the meeting. She has all the answers; knows all the questions in advance. She can give out the name, address, cell phone numbers and topic title of the last five keynote speakers. No matter that much of her information is incorrect (i.e. fabricated), she stands firm in her misguidance toward attendees. You wish she would get laryngitis or maybe stuck in the elevator.
Claude Competent read every memo, attended every planning meeting, memorized every session and starched every shirt he wore to the conference. He studied the floor plan, knows all the meeting rooms’ square footage, electrical outlets, public phone numbers, fire exits, etc. He not only knows the names and organizations of the attendees, he also knows their hotel room numbers and eating habits. He never misses a chance to tell you how much he knows, ad nauseam. You know, however, he needs to get a life.
Edna Efficient mans headquarters, fills in at registration, helps out in the speaker ready room, assists with lunch seating, passes out handouts and tracks down attendees who have received urgent messages. She is everything to everybody and cannot stop in her quest to personally satisfy attendees, staff and VIPs. However, if she does not get the proper recognition and constant accolades she believes she deserves for her efforts, she pouts and grumbles about how much she sacrificed of herself. You want to suggest she Google “convents.”
I have no doubt that meeting managers could come up with a few choice personalities from their own experiences. I’m sure I could conjure a few more examples as well. However, limited space permits me these few samples of the interpersonal challenges that meeting managers must endure while orchestrating the myriad tasks necessary to produce a success event.
Meeting managers celebrate their professional expertise that makes any event successful . . . despite the peculiarities of the on-site personalities.
Barbara Ann Cox, CMP, has been enduring peculiar personalities for more than 30 years as a conference & meeting management professional. She recently rebranded Meeting Makers Inc., her company of 18 years, to Barbara Ann Solutions, offering multiple services for meeting consulting, site research, speaker resources, public relations, writing, editing, proofreading, event planning and more. Share your peculiar personalities with Barbara Ann at Barbara@BarbaraAnnSolutions.com or call 850.656.0025.