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Meetings – Stress Less?

Meetings – Stress Less?

April 11, 2014, Vol. 12, Issue 6

I read an article earlier this year that listed the 10 most (and least) stressful jobs.  Do you think Event Coordinator made the list?  At either end — most or least stressful?  Guess!

Many of you reading this are event coordinators (or that is at least one of the many hats you wear), so I’m guessing you know which list your job landed on  — most stressful, of course.  Number 5!

You know the drill — you’re working with a host of moving parts. But did you realize you’re in the same company with military personnel, firefighters and airline pilots?  Perhaps we can put your job in some perspective today, because I know that I appreciate all that you do, and I try my very best to take the stress out of decision-making for speaker programming — just as the speakers I work with do their very best to take the stress out of the actual event.

It makes me smile when the meeting planner is all smiles, as is the case in the photo above of meeting planner Marcia Anderson (in red), of George Bray Cancer Center, with breast cancer survivor speaker Heidi Marble, at the hospital’s annual breast cancer survivor celebration. Marcia is always super organized and attends to every detail, and Heidi brings a smile to all who hear her incredible story.

Stress Less?

The article I read was based on information from jobs website CareerCast. Event coordinator came in on the Most Stressful list at Number 5, after:

  1. Enlisted military personnel
  2. Military general
  3. Firefighter
  4. Airline pilot
  5. Event coordinator

Eleven factors were considered in determining this list, with scores assigned to each factor. The higher the score, the more stressful the job. This was weighted by the importance of the demand. If demand was a major part of the job, high points were assigned.  If the demand was a smaller part of the job, fewer points were assigned, and no points were assigned if that demand was not normally required as part of the job.

Aspects considered included travel, growth potential, deadlines, public scrutiny, competitiveness, physical demands, environmental conditions, hazards encountered, danger to a worker’s own life, danger to someone else’s life, and contact with the public.

After event planner, the most stressful jobs were:

  1.     Public relations coordinator
  2.     Senior corporate executive
  3.     Newspaper reporter
  4.     Police officer
  5.     Taxi driver

Although the weighting of the factors is obviously subjective, I can certainly see the importance of each of the factors they chose in determining the ratings. While hazards and danger to life and limb would certainly count in anyone’s top four factors, I can see too that deadlines, public scrutiny and competitiveness would weigh strongly for event planners.

Now, if you’d like the list of the least stressful jobs — so you know what to look for the next time around — email me and I’ll send it to you. Observation: the job of professional speaker did not show up on either of these lists. Must have been an oversight. 😉


Heart Health Event meeting roomAre there ways to take some of the stress out of event planning? To get an answer, I consulted with a couple of our clients, who know the answers from experience.  Both shared that they have learned some valuable ways to reduce stress over the years. One gives the fundamentals of producing a successful event, and the other, building on those fundamentals, goes on to lend her advice about how to emerge from the event with your sanity whole and your friendships unbroken.

From Rachel Bray-Stiles, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Capital Regional Medical Center, Tallahassee, Florida

Rachel has been in public relations and marketing for over 20 years, and said that she’s been doing events forever.  She was the PR Director at Visit Florida, the state’s marketing corporation for tourism and events, and planned events all around the country to showcasing Florida to travel media.  At Capital Regional Medical Center, she oversees approximately 50 events a year, a mixture of big and small.  She offered these five tips for event preparation:

  1. Be organized! Have one notebook with everything you need from contact info to diagrams of table/vendor placement.
  2. Know your audience. Build the event for the people who will be attending, not yourself.
  3. Delegate!! A good leader delegates tasks to the right people.
  4. Details, details, details. Put MarciaTablDecBfDnnryourself in the place of an attendee and include items you would want to experience.
  5. Have fun!



And from Anita Hoffarth of Reach Partners, Inc, an event planning company in Fargo, ND . . .

Anita Hoffarth started working at Reach Partners in 1998 and took the helm when she bought the company from her mentor and friend, Bev Martinson, in 2005. AnitaNDMtgPlannerI’ve been working with her for about ten years on providing keynote speakers for their women’s health conferences in Fargo and Bismarck, North Dakota. In fact, Anita stepped up to the plate to continue the conferences a couple of years ago when the sponsorship situation changed and they were in jeopardy of being discontinued.

Anita is always calm and practical whenever we’re working on something together, and she always gives me honest feedback. I appreciate that. Here are her thoughts for you:

  1. Mitigate risks – In spite of the best-laid plans, we all know that things can go wrong, they always do. But if we work through issues that we know might go wrong and figure out how to avoid those, then the ones we haven’t planned for don’t seem so overwhelming.
  2. Calm down – It doesn’t help to get all worked up. I had to learn this the hard way, but people always comment about how calm I am.  It works so much better to troubleshoot an issue when I’m as calm as I can be – plus I get to enjoy the event.
  3. Let go – I have very high standards, I want everything to be just right. There are times when you have to let it go. I’m not suggesting that you forgo major pieces, but you know that there are details that are nice but not required. It truly will be okay to let go if time is running out or there’s not enough staff to implement something successfully. The attendees are not even going to notice something is missing.
  4. Wine (or beverage of choice) – After all big events we plan ahead to get together as soon as the event is over and have a glass of wine or get something to eat. The purpose is not to pick apart what we will do better next time (that comes later) but to sit down (because we have been standing and running all day) and enjoy each other, and praise each other for a job done well.
  5. Self-care – Do take a moment, a morning, a day, or an afternoon for yourself to catch your breath, after a big event.  Do what you enjoy, you deserve it and you will be re-energized when you return back to work.

I like that they both essentially said, in addition to reaching for perfection, “Relax and have fun!”


My recipe for stress relief is grandkid time. We just returned from Spring Break in Berkeley, CA, with our 3 and 6 year old granddaughters. There is just nothing like kid energy to lighten up life. AstridRunning-Paza2014 I experienced pure pleasure witnessing the energy, creativity, joy and carefree attitudes of well-loved children.

I marveled at 3-year old Astrid running on the plaza at the Lawrence Museum for the pure joy of running.

On another afternoon, we played dinosaur for hours. A friend asked me what that meant — Well, it means the kids are dinosaurs (they even had costumes), and hid behind the couch while I got to be the hunter who was FreyaPlayingDragon2014wanting a dinosaur (or two) for a pet. This went on and on and on with various versions of chasing, hiding, giggling and “capturing,” in both the house and the yard.  And Bella, the beagle, was in on the fun too.

There were fairy puzzles, stickers, coloring, and lots of book reading — happy, happy moments to be treasured, and brought to mind when things are feeling stressful.

Until next time, take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.

Yours truly,


For Your Well Being is published bi-weekly. We bring you insider speaker reports, exclusive stories about special events around the country, meeting planner tips, and fun stuff from the worlds of health and well being. Be well and be in the know!

The Speak Well Being Group is a specialized speakers bureau, focusing on speakers for hospital-sponsored community events, healthcare organizations, nurses, conferences and women’s groups. Our speakers are hand-selected. They are not only experts in their fields, they connect with their audiences while bringing them life-changing information, smiles of recognition and ultimately a sense of well being and hope.

Finding the perfect keynote speaker for your special event or conference is my personal passion, not just once, but year after year. It brings me great joy to know that your audience was delighted and moved by the speaker we selected together. I’m committed to making the process easy, pleasant and fun.


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