Meeting Planner Stress – an Occupational Hazard?
When US News & World report proclaimed “Meeting Planner” one of the best careers for 2011, it also noted that “stress levels can be high”. Now, CareerCast‘s 2012 Job Stress Report lists “Event Coordinator” as one of the top 10 most stressful jobs, coming in at number six, right after Police Officer. (In case you’re wondering, Enlisted Soldier was #1.)
Grace Under Pressure
If you’re a professional meeting or event planner, no doubt you’re also an excellent juggler, negotiator, diplomat, communicator and quick-change artist. To be successful, you must also possess nerves of steel and make split-second decisions when faced with last-minute changes or unexpected challenges.
According to Wikipedia: “Event planners’ work is considered either stressful or energizing…fast-paced and demanding.” The most successful pros are passionate about their careers, and find event planning to be creative, inspiring, and immensely rewarding.
But What About the Stress…
There’s no such thing as “planner’s hours” – your hours vary and are likely to include evenings and weekends. You want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but you probably eat on the run, and have little time for exercise or relaxation – let alone sleep – while on site. Along with the pressure of making sure your events run smoothly and attendees are happy, it all adds up to unhealthy stress levels, which deplete your energy and diminish your joy.
The late neuropsychologist Dr. Paul Pearsall was the author of over 200 professional articles and 18 books. His fascinating article, “The Causes & Cures of MPS (Meeting Planner Stress)” was published in 2005, but is still immensely relevant.
After interviewing a group of 28 meeting professionals for a clinical research study, Dr. Pearsall concluded that “Only meeting planners seem to know what a meeting planner does. Meeting planners fully understood the complex and time-consuming nature of their work, but few others in their organization seemed to really get it…”
5 Ways to Ward Off Stress
1) Make contingency plans. Accept that you can’t control everything, and take charge of the things you can – have a backup plan to your “Plan B”.
2) Get your 40 winks! Studies show a strong link between insomnia and chronic stress. Experts recommend going to bed at a regular time each night, striving for at least seven to eight hours of sleep and eliminating distractions such as television and computers from the bedroom.
3) Be active. Physical activity increases your body’s production of feel-good endorphins, a type of neurotransmitter in the brain. Better yet, get out in the fresh air – a brisk walk will do the trick.
4) Be prepared. Don’t leave details to the last minute, and secure all agreements in writing.
5) Breathe deep. Take a relaxation break and practice some deep breathing or mindfulness meditation. It will calm your nerves, refresh your mind, and help you stay present and focused.
Bonus tip: Check out “Yoga for Meeting Planners – Stress Management & Team-Building with a Twist”.
This Kindle book by Darrin Zeer includes yoga stretches that can be done anywhere, anytime, whether you’re in the office, on the phone, in meetings – even in bed!
And finally, take a break and read these wise words from Dr. Pearsall:
Remember why you do what you do. Business meetings serve as a major avenue for learning, connecting, rewarding, and celebrating the work that we do. Meeting planners are the deans of this unique corporate curriculum, and their stress can be reduced by taking more moments to stop, take a deep breath, and just watch as attendees learn something new, connect in the ways they so dearly need but too seldom do, and enjoy the wonderful opportunity you have created for them.”