Enhancing the Event Professionals Day to Day

EPISODE 29|Enhancing the Event Professionals Day to Day

As part of our Career Planning series, we are discussing tips to dig into unique skill sets that are relevant to event professionals during these times. 

Joining us today to discuss this topic is Paulina Curto & Amanda Greenspan-DSouza who are on the Global Meetings Management Team here at Cvent. Paulina and Amanda share 4 skills that planners can learn now to enhance their resumes and help with their day to day.

One special event Paulina and Amanda are working on is Cvent Connect Virtual! From August 25 - 26, there will be 28 live breakout sessions, virtual meet-ups, appointments, and more. Check out CventConnect.com/virtual to learn more and register for free!

Guests

  • Paulina Curto, Manager, Meetings & Events
  • Amanda Greenspan-DSouza, Meetings & Events Planner, Cvent

Hosts

  • Brooke Gracey, Senior Manager, Demand Generation, Cvent
  • Cody Liskn, Team Lead, Event Quarterback Team, Cvent

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Transcript

Cody Liskh
 All right, well thank you guys so much for joining. Amanda and Paulina, you guys are both podcast veterans. But for those of our listeners who maybe might not remember Can you quickly remind us how you came to work at Cvent

Amanda Greenspan-DSouza 
Sure. So hi, everyone. My name is Amanda Greenspan Dsouza, I have been a Cvent for almost two years now. I originally was a customer of Cvent and was a long-time user of the product itself. And When I moved to Virginia from New York City. There was a job opening on the meetings and events team and I jumped right on it and had the pleasure of being on this team ever since.

Paulina Curto 
Hi everyone, my name is Pauline Curto and I've actually been with Cvent For just over six years now and started out in my role managing our trade shows, and currently now oversee our marquee events programs, which include Luxury hosted buyer events as well as our two large scale annual user conferences and prior to my career with Cvent I was managing events for a nonprofit Association and You know, I've really enjoyed my time working with Cvent and being you know I'm such a cutting edge planning team, we're really lucky to have a large group of us supporting our events program.

Brooke Gracey
You guys have an amazing team. WE LOVE WORKING WITH YOU AND I KNOW CODY and I, we feel like our jobs have changed in several ways over the past couple of months and even this podcast has evolved quite a bit. I can only imagine what's happening when it comes to event planning and execution. So, can you guys tell us you know last eight to 10 weeks, how has that meeting planner role changed?

Paulina Curto
you know, it's funny, and I've gotten this question, you know, a number of times in the last few weeks and a part of me wants to say You know, nothing's changed but everything's changed. And when I say, nothing's changed. I say that because really, as event planners we've really had to rely on being agile, being able to adapt having a sense of calm and chaos and so I feel like we were set up to manage This new normal really well with a certain suite of skill sets and but at the same time, you know, our role has evolved and you know the in-person events have really dwindled and we are really leaning into this virtual environment this virtual space and I'm hearing the term event producer Referred to more regularly than the event planner, which I think it resonates really well. It resonates with me and I'm sure it resonates with you, Amanda and I definitely want to stress, though, you know, we're leveraging what I considered traditional skill sets, we're still you know sourcing vendors. We're still, you know, negotiating contracts. We're still you know project managing and what's really changed is the skill set. Like I said, and you know, we're doing it from, you know, behind a computer screen.
You know production has changed our partners with whom we're working with have changed. And you know, I found a lot of opportunity in partnership with peers and marketing that I haven't traditionally worked with on a consistent basis, so I think You know, the people who were coordinating and producing events with and has certainly changed, but I think it's an opportunity for innovation and creativity.

Cody Liskh
I love that Paulina everything's changed, but it's still the same. At the same time, it's kind of an odd place to be. So, in terms of in-person or virtual, how should event planners be thinking about their events Now, and how can they communicate this and their brand to their stakeholders.

Paulina Curto
I don't think all events are created equal, and I think What's important is to understand which events lend themselves to a virtual environment and which ones don't. And so that's really having a good sense of what your goals are for the event and harnessing what the scope is of that event, and I think Those are the first things you need to think of out the gate when you know you're in this position to pivot your programming.
And but I think leaning into your skill sets that you have, and you know Amanda has been, you know, producing virtual events for quite some time now as part of our internal program. So I think She can give some insight as to how we have been doing this for a while and what people need to think of when they're pivoting

Amanda Greenspan-DSouza
 to emphasize what Paulina was talking about every year we have will be calling HQ in-week where we bring all of our sales teams and Everyone who's local to the HQ area, as well as people, fly in for this event about maybe 1800 to 2000 people in person. We also have about 2000 people who are watching remotely as well. 
And one program in This week is our company-wide and to kick it off We do a global shout out where each office signs on does a live streaming cheer and wave and throwing up props that are representative to their office location and I think Total with 14 different offices plus four additional remote purely remote-based employees. It was like two minutes and 30 seconds, but that whole planning period took about six weeks. 
I was like five rehearsals Hundreds and hundreds of emails and slack messages also went into producing it, so The this virtual event that we host if, in and of itself was like a really big baseline for me of the love of getting together, what tools you need and what resources to make available to yourself for hosting virtual events.

Cody Liskh
Yeah, you bring up a really good point. I'm sure it took a lot of collaboration internally and you've probably worked with a ton of different departments in Cvent. Can you tell us a little bit about how you've had to adapt to working with other departments to go virtual?

Amanda Greenspan-DSouza
Yeah. So, the first question Is that I would ask that I asked myself, who is my dream team here. Who are the people who Are going to be able to get me the information that I need, and provide the tools and resources for producing this event?
More often than not, I turn to our very trustworthy and reliable IT department I partner really closely, specifically with our AV team on this and with them, I've actually learned Other components to hosting virtual events, I wouldn't have necessarily thought of prior such as your news bandwidth speeds and what they're uploading capability is on that computer, you know, it's When in hosting live events, it's not really top of mind to make sure that That into that the internet is running at certain megabits per second.
So, when you're going to planning these virtual events, you have to take into consideration this whole other You know, the whole new demographic of what people are seeing from behind your screens.

Cody Liskh
 Yeah. And, and so you guys are the planners really who support office Cvent’s internal events. How do you guys adapted as meeting planners, you know, in this more virtual age that we're in right now?

Paulina Curto
I think the way we communicate across teams and has certainly changed. And, you know, Amanda and I participate in our team or weekly team meetings and I think there's such thing as this zoom burnout, a little bit. I think we all were really quick to jump on the zoom bandwagon and see each other as much as possible to try and fill that physical void.
And so I think finding new engagement tactics and spicing up traditional team meetings And, you know, finding different times of day to get together where it's not just the end of the day where you're meeting, face to face, but perhaps it's an early coffee chat like we do with my team and Amanda's brought some You know, really exciting and fun ways to engage with the team. I don't want to steal her thunder. But I mean, why don't you jump in and share what we did in our last team meeting.

Amanda Greenspan-DSouza
Sure, so I think everyone here has heard of jeopardy. maybe you've heard of that little game so I made a version called met birdie, which stands for meetings and events and it was a fun game also bringing together highlighting our own skillset because I took questions from the CMP handbook. I also, you know, giving a little bit of a knowledge boost to my team if anyone was interested in pursuing their own CMP, these are the types of questions that you could be on the lookout for

Brooke Gracey
So besides becoming a met birdie expert, maybe I got that right. I think there's probably a whole range of skills that meetings and event professionals event producer that technologists. Are learning because of this pivot to virtual so if you guys had to recommend, you know, three or four skills that planners learn how to enhance their resumes and just help with their day to day, what would those be

Paulina Curto
I think one would be leaning into your existing network of partners and vendors and sort of hearing what their best practices are as it relates to the virtual meeting and event space. And I know I've been kind of hosting these conversations too, you know, have a sounding board of ideas and what the new capabilities or Kind of trends, if you will, are and, you know, I've been thinking about this, like I mentioned before, as an event producer, we're looking at virtual events from the perspective of Almost like a TV set and TV show environment. 
You know, it's not the theatrical general session with the huge screen that can kind of do a lot of the talking and experience for you. We have to really Engage on a more intimate level through this small computer screen and small camera experience. So, I'm leaning into your production AV and production Partners and seeing, you know, are there. Cool camera angles that you can do to leverage more engagement or more exciting View viewing points and, you know, or are there more engaging tactics like Q&A, polls and, you know, one of our peers on the event marketing team and I participated In a virtual conference and had the opportunity to speak with the event organizers after it and listen to some of their takeaways from it and you know there are some formulaic best practices that you can implement like you know every seven or so minutes and incorporate some kind of video or pulling Q&A so that it's not exclusively presenter or presentation that the viewer is looking at, but it keeps things, you know, fresh in People's attention spans we're fighting with that right now. And you know, that's a very limited attention span for a general session, which is sometimes a 45 or longer, and you know the programming segment.
So, and I would think about You know, bouncing ideas off of your partners and vendors and think formulaically but also try and keep things fresh and, you know, keeping in mind truncated attention spans and being authentic. I think if you start to force things people start to see that there's a repetition. So, and, you know, try and try and be as innovative and creative as you can be, but also maintaining some kind of authenticity, those would be my tips for now.

Brooke Gracey 
Yeah. Wait. Is there a great camera angle that we should be?

Cody Liskh
Was just thinking that. What is that what's a golden camera angle, Paulina

Paulina Curto
I'm still doing my diligent research on that. I'll let you know

Brooke Gracey
They're probably the selfie angle as I have, as you can.

Paulina Curto
all I know is you should look into the light.

Brooke Gracey
Got it. look into the light. I love it. So, we asked the same tough questions every single one of our guests and you guys are Going to get the opportunity to answer this as well. Now, this is if you could leave one takeaway or one piece of advice for our listeners when it comes to career path thing or skill development in this new normal. What would that be

Amanda Greenspan-DSouza
So for me, it would be Get creative with the tools that you have on hand already and I, for example, am a huge slack user And what I've learned recently is that slack is a lot more than just the messaging My colleagues internally. It can be used for polling and crowdsourcing. You can even play tic tac toe on it. Um, and it's also great for historical data to get a conversation started.

Cody Liskh
I love it. Before we let you, guys go. Is there anything you guys like to promote or share with our listeners on the podcast?

Paulina Curto 
we did just recently launched our annual user conference Cvent connect virtual has gone live so certainly encourage all of our listeners to register If they're so inclined, and it should be a really exciting program. And really looking forward to bringing you on an engaging experience.

Brooke Gracey
And not just because I work at the Cvent, but I will definitely be there. There's just something about an event that is put on by event professionals that work for an event technology company right like really takes it next level. So, should be really exciting for our listeners, of course, we will include a link so that you too can register for Cvent connect virtual that will be coming up in a few months. 
Well, thank you guys so much for joining us. This was really fun getting your insights and I'm sure our audience. Appreciate it as well. So, thank you.