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Tips for Education and Speaker Selection & Management

I’ve been working on something a little different than what I’m used to lately in my career, and that decision took me to expanding my skills to education and speaker selection and management. This is my first time doing this, but there is this satisfaction that I feel when I search for educational and motivational speakers because it gives me a sense of purpose, like I’m helping so how.

In fact, since I’m no expert in this area, I signed up for some webinars through the ASAE to help me understand this better. It was one webinar a day for four days and each talked about a different area of the speaker selection and management. After watching this it kind of opened my mind a little, because I always tend to think about the big picture and not pay attention to what I need to do in between for it to be successful.

Some of the speakers kind of repeated themselves, but you always have to take away the best of any conference or webinar, analyze it and apply it to your circumstances.

Anyways, back to speaker selection and management. These are the main takeaways:

  • First and foremost, we should always look for and provide educational sessions that align with the association/organization/business/theme of the conference.
  • Try thinking outside of the box and provide sessions that you know will benefit the attendee, even if they may not think so because they are probably thinking of the same sessions that are given every year. Think diverse speakers, topics and event set-up of the session (panel, classroom style, cocktail style, talk show, etc.)
  • What are the topics that are trending right now in you industry?
  • Watch out for those proposals that look good in writing, but once they get on the stage it sounds more like a sales pitch
  • Give attendee demographics, association/org/ business/conference objectives, room set-up, theme of the conference and other speaker’s topics so that they prepare well and everything ties together nicely.
  • Sometimes most of our speakers are professionals and experts in our industry, but that doesn’t make them professional speakers, so provide some tips on how to be a better speaker so that they can prepare for it
  • Researching speakers is crucial from the minute you receive their proposal. Look out at how they present and the topics they speak about to make sure it aligns with the conference’s theme
  • It’s the big day! make sure you communicate with the speakers prior to this day to coordinate who, where and what time he/she will be meeting someone from the team to lead him/her to the right place and to help them throughout the event
  • A few days after the conference share feedback with the speakers so they know how they did and where they should improve

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The Book Club

One of the fears that I have always had was speaking in public. This included talking in a small group of people that I knew or didn’t know, big crowds, asking a question in class or giving my opinion, and of course speaking in front of a large crowd where you are the center of attention. I tried really hard throughout high school and college to work on it and most times I forced myself into uncomfortable situations, but I always fell back to my safety zone of being quiet no matter where I was.

In high school I traveled to a college town near by where I lived with a program to prepare you to apply for college. This program, as it was for mainly immigrant kids, had the greatest idea that we should write our story and present it in front of some government entity,I don’t quite remember which one. I honestly hated them for that, but there was nothing I could do. I spoke in front of so many people I didn’t know and my classmates that I had known for literally less than a week. yaaa me! (sarcastic tone).

Also, in high school, I took speech class, which I don’t remember anything because I was probably blacked out most of the times I was giving presentations due to suffering from public speaking anxiety …

Fast forward a couple of years and I find myself in college. The same college I had suffered giving my first speech in front of so many people about how I got to this country and my experiences. That got boring after a while. Again, I forced myself to take speech and theater class. What was I thinking! I must have blacked out there too because I have no memory of what I talked about….

Fast forward again years later, and off I go to find my dream job or so I thought in the capital of the USA. To be clear though, NYC was my first choice, sadly that didn’t work out. I started working odd jobs, and finally I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and find myself wanting to join the event planning world, but guess what??! I had to do so much work, network, put myself out there talking people in the industry. Some of them were nice, some of them thought I was a joke because I didn’t work with anyone in the industry yet so it wasn’t worth their time. And guess what, I didn’t care. All I knew was that I had a goal in mind.

Now, the present. I look back and I think, wow what a bumpy road to get here, but I’m glad I did it, not only because I’m working towards where I now want to be, but also I broke the barriers that were holding me back, which was so simple…just talk to people. Who cares what they think. I honestly don’t care much anymore. I just open my mouth and ooppss sometimes not many people like it.

You are probably wondering why I’m telling you this long story about myself! Well, I recently joined a book club, and while I was reaching out to the coordinators who are in charge of it, I realized that I was nervous because after reading some bios of the members, so many of them sounded so much smarter than me and book worms. Here I was comparing myself to them and feeling nervous because I don’t read more than two books a year, which is why I wanted to join the club in the first place. Why do we do this to ourselves? Overthinking before we know the facts.

I’m really happy I found it and the ladies whom I have had the joy of meeting, who seemed to be the regulars, are just fantastic. No one is judgemental, no one says your opinion is wrong, there is no tension because of it, so it is just nice and I really look forward to it every time. Why was I so nervous?

I honestly feel accomplished just because I’m reading way more books than I could have imagined. So far, I’ve read “Little” by Edward Cary, “Where The Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens , “29 Gifts” by Cami Walker, and currently reading “The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See.

Let’s see what is the next challenge! Don’t be afraid of challenging yourself. The worst that can happen is you being embarrassed, but who has time for that?

With love,

Natalie

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So…I’m Trying Something New

Hello everyone! Welcome to my blog! I’ve been away for a little while BUT I’m back to share some tips and my personal stories about this crazy and never-the-same career that I’ve chosen for myself called Event Planning. I’ve learned so much in the couple of years that I started, and I realized that I’m doing pretty well for myself. Now, I’m not entirely talking about money or position, but experimenting and not being afraid to make a change to really figure out what attracts and excites me the most.

This topic brings me to another point of being afraid of rejection. I know we all think about it and it has even stopped us from doing or even achieving something. Since I’m trying something new now (which I will share with you in a few weeks), I researched this topic and it made me ask myself why are we afraid of rejection? I mean, it’s inevitable sometimes, but we should be able to stop and think and act and not let it control us. Well, I’ll leave you with that thought and hopefully you start thinking about it to help you take action in your life to do the things that you are afraid of.

with love,

Natalie

MACE 2019

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Mid-Atlantic Conference and Expo (MACE) at the MGM National Harbor hosted by Meeting Professionals International Potomac Chapter (MPI). It was a day-long conference and it was one of the best conferences and experiences I’ve had in the industry.

We had great keynote speakers including Sonia Aranza, Tracy Stuckrath, and Joanna Coles, Former Chief Content Officer at Hearst Magazines. To say the least, these women are great professionals in their field, and an inspiration to as all. They all came from different backgrounds, and throughout their sessions, they let us understand a little  more about themselves, how they got there, and how they are succeeding.

At MACE, we got to meet so  many wonderful people in the industry and got to learn about important topics that are being mentioned more and more such as diversity in the work place, learning and being prepared to cater to all people no matter their dietary restrictions, social media and more.

One of the key things that I took from this conference is about diversity. Sonia Aranza, who was the keynote speaker for this topic, reminded us about all the generations working together in one company, or in the same department. We may not always think about it or at all, but we are working with millennials, generation X,  baby boomers, etc., and all of us were born when different things were happening around the world, and lets not forget about our cultural differences.

When I had a difficult encounter with someone who had a different view than me, I would always think of them old school, or that they were afraid of change, which I don’t have a problem with, so after this session, I thought about my past experiences, and realized that I need to step back and put myself in their shoes, and approach them in a different way. They may not budge, but at least I’m hoping I will be more aware of the whys in their hesitations or reactions to certain things, so that we come to an understanding and move forward.

Overall, MACE was great! I definitely look forward to next year’s event and also the upcoming educational events coming up.

There isn’t such a thing as knowing it all or too  much. Continuously learning keeps me motivated!

with love,

Natalie

What drives you to do better?

How you ever felt the need to keep learning? I’m sure most of you do whether at work or mastering your hobby.

I’ve done this before, but today specifically, I really paid attention to the satisfaction I get when I learn something new at work. In my current position, there are many things that I learn everyday from working with staff, setting the table right, new menu items, learning the ingredients in those dishes, learning about new trends so that I can give ideas to my clients, etc., so, today, when we had our first session, of many to come, of how to work towards the direction that we want to go, I understood the importance of not just management to learn new things, but also for the staff to become a part of it.

I’m not going to get into specifics of our sessions since this is mostly my opinion on the benefits of education at work, but I will say that if I feel good about learning new things at work because I feel more prepared, knowledgeable about what I do, and also satisfaction knowing that the place I work at sees and considers learning an important step to accomplish its goals and also values its employees, wouldn’t you think that employees would feel the same no matter in what position they are in? I think so. There’s always space for improvement, learning, and providing the opportunity for everyone to become better and in doing so, they most likely will be more involved in their job, want to do a better job, want to help and teach a new employee, and feel good about themselves  knowing that they are mastering the skills needed.

This may sound obvious to you, but you’ll be surprised how many companies don’t understand the benefits and don’t want to put the resources and time to make it happen.

If you are already working in a company that provides learning opportunities for you, take advantage of it. It will benefit the company and you.

Happy Thursday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Room Changer

Today is another wedding day, and with that, I would like to share some of the gorgeous centerpieces of the past few weddings that I’ve had the pleasure of working.

A little observation that I came to realized today. Wow! The difference flowers make and  how it transforms a room!

Hope you enjoy them!

 

cherry blossomsMuseumPurpleunnamed

Bridesmaid’s Gifts

A couple of days ago, I went out to dinner with one of my college friends who, sadly, is moving back to her home state. She’s currently planning her own wedding, and bridesmaids presents came up. What do you give to your bridesmaids? How much to spend on a gift? How many gifts do you give?! So many questions…it can get overwhelming trying to think of that perfect gift for every single bridesmaid, who let me tell you, they all like different things and have different interests. So, how do you choose one gift that will be perfect for each and every one of them?

I’m all about simplicity and peace of mind, so I try not to stress too much about things like this. To answer one of the questions: how much to spend? This will depend on you and how much you are willing to spend. Don’t be cheap either, and cheap I mean spend I don’t know $5 on something that you know it’s not going to have any use.

When choosing the right gift, try thinking about the person individually and not about everyone all together. What is it that you know this person would like (that’s also a hard one sometimes)? Do you know her favorite color? Do you know if she likes to wear makeup? Does she like jewelry? Does she like hair products? You can learn a lot about a person when you see them. Watch what they are wear, what they tend to talk about, etc.

Now, you’ve thought about all your bridesmaids. If you have 5-7 bridesmaids, it can be a pain to buy something different for everyone, and it’s okay. This is not supposed to be another thing to worry about on the top of planning your wedding. With a big group of bridesmaids, the simplest thing to do is to buy the same thing for everyone. You can always personalize a gift, get it in their favorite color, etc., but remember it has to be something useful because otherwise it’s going to go to the box of forgotten things…and that’s awful.

If you have a smaller group of bridesmaids and you know their taste pretty well, get creative and give them something different to each of them.

These gifts are pretty cool, I would say, and they will be used more than once  instead of using it only before the wedding and bachelorette party. Check the link below!

https://www.purseandclutch.com/blogs/news/ethical-bridesmaids-gifts-that-they-will-

 

 

Friday Intro!

Hello everyone!

#fridayintroductions have been popular for a while although I’ve noticed it’s sort of slowing down now, but since I’ve never done one I thought I would give it a shot right here on my blog.

I’m trying to not make this post like a biography because I tend to write too much and it’s hard to keep it short (sorry!), but I’ll try my best.

Since this blog is about my experiences in event planning I thought I should keep it to this topic but what’s an intro without the background story? I will begin with how my father brought me to become an independent and business forward child. I tried, I really did. At one point, I was making ice cream at home and selling it. I bought all the materials, the juices, milk, chocolate, the little baggies, you name it. It worked, people were buying homemade ice cream from me and I learned to give change back. This happened back in Chile. After that I sort of gave up on that, and I shifted my attention to something that I seemed to be good at: meeting new people and organizing things. So, the very first thing I organized as a child was a dance routine with two of my best friends. The song was from Christina Aguilera “Ven conmigo” and it seemed to be going well. The purpose of the dance was to perform at the neighborhood’s Christmas event at the plazuela (square) where they gave out candy. In order to do this, we had to ask permission to the president of the board of the neighborhood, and my two friends and I presented ourselves at his house and told him our idea. He was convinced enough (how could he not? three young girls with a dream). We practiced and practiced until we knew every move and coordinated our outfits and performed in front of the entire neighborhood who was present.
Apparently, our idea was very popular because the following year another group of girls performed after us. I decided to not perform the second year but helped with the routine and outfits.

Fast forward to 2008, my high school graduation in the USA, and then later that year Penn State University graduating in 2012 with a bachelor in Marketing, which I obviously didn’t end up pursuing after graduation.

I had so many random jobs before I figured out what I was meant to do and what I thought, and still think, would make me happier. Somehow from the many random, low paying jobs, weird hours, nice and bad bosses, I ended up where I’m today with a pretty clear idea of where I want to go from here.

The one thing I know for sure was that I was not afraid to switch up my jobs when I felt like it was time, or when I applied to a job that I thought I wasn’t ready for but did it anyways because I wanted to prove to myself that I could and that I was not afraid. I had a lot of ups and downs, and I definitely did not start on the path where I had a good or decent job after college and could afford rent and food. I did have a lot of help and support from my mom and dad and they definitely trusted me for some reason.

Fast forward to 2018, I am doing what I want to do for a long time, still planning for the future with some ideas under my sleeve and currently doing some research. Maybe my father instilling in me that I should do what I believe in and not do what we think we are supposed to do is coming handy, also my mom’s sense of responsibility and consistency with everything you do.

I would still be somewhere on an Island living life if it were up to me, but I have to be somewhat responsible, I guess.

Oh, I almost forgot, on my free time I enjoy reading fiction books, watching movies and currently obsessed with movies like The Duchess and Marie Antoinette, spending time with my family and baby Leo, face timing by precious Renato, and hopefully going out hiking soon once the weather warms up because I can’t handle the cold.

The Wedding Exit

Final stage of the wedding! There’s something that always excites me about the exit. There are so many ways to do it and be creative. This is the last impression you get to make on everyone and for you to experience the day of your wedding. Who doesn’t love getting all the attention walking out while everyone is cheering for you? It literally reminds me when at parties we did the tunnel and everyone had to go through–it was the most exciting thing. Or the train?! Well, now you understand why I get so excited, it’s just so fun!

There are so many ways to have a cool exit, but there are some things we need to consider so that not only it’s epic, but also responsible. For example, doves? No, so out of date and plain mean to the beautiful birds. Not only they get super stressed out to be in a cage for hours before they get released, but it feeds to that idea that they are cool and more people are catching them or breeding them for this purpose. What life is that?  Same with butterfly release. Googling dove wedding exit, a website popped up from FL saying that releasing doves was sustainable because you are using live doves and basically because they will continue to be used, it is a recyclable method. I vote 100% against this! Totally bs on their part.   Confetti poppers? I vote no. Imagine all the tiny pieces of colored paper that probably were not made from recycled paper, and working at venues, not fun to clean up at all. Also, most venues don’t allow any confetti.

Let’s look at some really cool exits that you will definitely enjoy on your special day instead that are really cool, creative and beautiful:

  • Flowers? yes! Imagine colorful, full of life and beautiful flowers being toss in the air, landing on your hair and dress? I think that would be a great picture. Don’t think that only loose petals can be used, get creative and use the entire head of the flower without the long stem.
  • Lavender? I can already smell the lavender just writing about it. Calming smell and colorful. Put lavender in recycled paper cones and give them to your guests as favors.
  •  Rice? An all time classic. I like the idea and what it means, but not so much for photos
  • Colorful cloth streamers? This would work if you didn’t have to buy new cloth to make them. Do you have old t-shirts that you were thinking about donating? You can reuse them and make streamers for guests to use at your exit.

I hope you liked the ideas!

With love,
Natalie

Bouquet Toss

Hi everyone!

We are almost at the end and guess what? You know it–the bouquet toss. At most weddings now a days, there’s no bouquet toss and you know why? Because wedding bouquets are some what pricy and who wants to toss it away for someone else to have it? Personally, I love the tradition and I would have done it. I think it’s fun and it gives a little hope to the single girl who’s been wanting to get hitch..or not.

One little anecdote, once upon a time when I was just a teenager, I think I was about 14, I was one of the bridesmaids at someone’s wedding. It was really fun, it was literally my first wedding experience because in Chile parents don’t take kids to wedding. Say what?! Yep, they just didn’t, so I never really got to go to one until here in the US of A. The wedding was terrific and I danced a lot, one thing I didn’t know was that I was going to catch the bouquet. I didn’t plan it, the flowers literally landed on my feet. I don’t even know why I was there with the rest of the girls in the first place–marriage was definitely not in my mind then, but there I was and I picked it up. The next part it’s kind of shocking, especially to a 14-year-old girl who just wanted to wear a pretty dress and dance all night, a young boy my age caught the garter and yep it really did happen. I had to sit on a chair and let the young boy put the garter on my leg which by the way it was totally embarrassing considering the entire party was watching and we were in the middle of the dance floor.

Anyways, that’s my very first experience with a bouquet toss, but nevertheless I love the tradition. There are different alternatives to still toss it and to keep it to last for a very long time. One option (which is the most popular one) is to have a tiny bouquet for the toss. This will obviously cost you more, but if you want to keep the tradition and not get rid of yours that’s the way to do it. To keep costs down, remember there are so many flowers in season that you can choose from so talk to your florist and let her know what you are dreaming of!

Also, to keep your bouquet for a very long time (longer than 3-4 days if that) you can preserve it. Check out this website https://www.brides.com/story/how-to-preserve-wedding-bouquet.  It has some cool ideas to preserve it!

Another really cool company that I’ve been following on IG for a while now is Eco Flower. Check them out https://www.ecoflower.com/  They have beautiful flower arrangements for wedding to home decor.

Now you have some ideas of what to do with your wedding bouquet! Get planning!

With love,
Natalie