Coping with Stress

Holiday Survival Tips for Event Planners

For event planners, most of life is lived between the highs of important events. Maybe this holiday season you’re craving something simple, sweet, slow, and stress-free. The truth is inevitably there must be some downtime or you will burn out. But it can feel impossible to find the deep rest you need when even your attempts at self-care feel exhausting. Maybe all you have the energy for at the end of the day is scrolling through other people’s adventures and self-care routines feeling resentful that you can’t have the same ones. Here are some tips to end your exhausting search for the right kind of self-care and find a beautiful way to cope with stress: 

Scrolling (what’s really happening there?)

One of the reasons you can’t help reaching for social media but also never feel satisfied after a good scroll-shesh is because of a little brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a short-term fix or high you experience in response to cortisol release. It is associated with instant gratification, pleasure, and the reward center of your brain. The problem is that dopamine is highly addictive and can leave you feeling more anxious and stressed after you come off of the “high.” Try this instead…

Serotonin and Oxytocin

These happy, calm brain chemicals are associated with tight social bonds, trust, generosity, long-term health benefits, better focus, better sleep, and less anxiety. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and desperately need a way to cope with stress, leave your phone in a drawer and try a few of these things:

-Take a Group Exercise Class: Group exercise is a wonderful way to build supportive relationships while taking care of your health and completing the stress cycle. You’ll release tons of oxytocin when you do creating a calm, safe feeling, and decreasing your anxiety. 

-Take a Walk Outside: Exposure to nature especially when you move outdoors releases serotonin and endorphins leaving you feeling peaceful, revived, and in a better mood. Exposure to sunlight, even in the wintertime, can help counteract seasonal depression and help you absorb a vital dose of vitamin D which also affects mood. 

-Try Deep Breathing: There are too many health benefits to deep breathing to even fit in this article. One of the major outcomes of slow, deep, intentional breaths is the release of serotonin. Serotonin is necessary for feeling happier, experiencing better focus, and sleeping better through the night. Try breathing exercises and some meditation at the start of each day as a powerful way to cope with stress. 

-Express Gratitude: Gratitude has many positive mental health benefits. A daily gratitude practice helps your mind re-frame negative situations, see the best in people, and come to a healthy place of acceptance. Expressed gratitude and meaningful social connections also release oxytocin in the brain lessening the burden you feel with life. 

-Serve Somebody: Acts of service or volunteering may seem like added stressors, but if you set some healthy boundaries around the practice you can experience a profound sense of peace. You feel better and release serotonin when you show generosity. Sometimes the best way to get out of your own head is to reach out and serve someone else. You may be giving to someone else but your own mind, body, and soul will thank you for it. 

This holiday season, experience a deep sense of rest by giving your brain the break it truly deserves. We hope you find the space for a little happiness and contentment. Take care of you and be merry.

Then and Now

How to Create this Magical Mix

The holidays are a busy time of year for event planners. From parties to Thanksgiving feasts, and of course, the big corporate holiday parties in December, there is plenty to do to get ready for the seasonal festivities. One way to keep your events fresh and meaningful is to consider a then-and-now approach. This time of year is special because nostalgia fills the air. As an event planner, you can keep the hustle-and-bustle stress far away from your event by using nostalgia as a way to add wonder and magic back into the season for attendees. We all have moments of magic in our lives to draw from. Someone or something, somewhere, at some point, generously impacted our lives. When we embrace these memories, we pull our pasts, presents, and futures together adding extra doses of meaning to our lives. As an event planner, you have the opportunity to help your attendees embrace the past in ways that make the most out of the season in one, single event. Here’s how: 

Food

Consider some out-of-the-box food themes that will add a dash of then to the now of your event. Try themes such as Cookies and Milk for Santa, Momma’s Hot Cocoa bar, or Bonfire Snacks complete with roasted hot dogs, marshmallows, and popcorn. Add a dash of now by asking your caterer to put a creative, gourmet spin on foods and cocktails that carry nostalgic feels.   

Weather

Some believe if snow is in the forecast that we should all stay inside. But snow is magical! What if you did something different? What if you put up some heat lamps, provided fluffy blankets, and added a sleigh ride to your list of activities? Maybe this sounds farfetched and it would certainly require some extra planning, but getting your attendees comfortably out into the wonder of sparkling snow would be a nostalgic showstopper! Here’s the point: use the weather to your advantage and don’t let a little accumulation stop any fun.  

Games

We all have a favorite childhood board game or two. This just in…vintage games are back! Use these as centerpieces and encourage your attendees to play. Or gather your guests for a good, old-fashioned game of charades. A well-timed game or activity can be a wonderful way to spark gatherings to life. Especially, if you add some favorite childhood games to the mix. 

Encourage a little Creativity

Arts and crafts get a bad rap at parties. Don’t let that stop you from adding a thoughtfully designed moment of creativity to your event. The quickest way to awaken the inner child is through hands-on art. Not to mention, artistic activities are a great way to generate some team bonding. Try trendy, stylish art forms that your attendees will love taking home – glass etching, customized soaps, terrariums, handmade beard oils, and sugar scrubs just to name a few!  

In the end, all that matters is that people feel honored and moved by these events. Every intentional act on your part adds to the deepening of team bonds, shared meaning, and laughter, just like when we were kids. The reckless fun, the small artistic moments, the meaningful details, and the simple act of trying something just a little bit out-of-the-box, it all gifts your gatherings with the closeness of freedom, like the days of our youth. So, this holiday season, add a little then to the now and watch the magic unfold.

Crafting Moments

A few years ago, a ground-breaking book surfaced for business owners, event planners, teachers, leaders, parents, and…well everybody! It was called the Power of Moments, by Chip and Dan Heath. In their book, the Heath brothers lay out a recipe for creating meaningful moments in people’s lives. They researched what factors are behind some of the most memorable events that exist for people and why. 

Here is their recipe for meaningful moments and a few ideas on how you can spin this emotional recipe into some Halloween fun.

Meaningful Moments include:

Elevation: Defining moments rise above the everyday. They provoke not just transient happiness, like laughing at a friend’s joke, but memorable delight. Moments of elevation transcend the normal course of events; they are literally extraordinary. 

Halloween Spin: Go ahead! Hire that DJ, contact a Mixologist, and rent the fireworks for your all-out Halloween extravaganza! These added details create moments of elevation that your guests are sure to remember. 

Insight: Defining moments rewire our understanding of ourselves or the world. In a few seconds or minutes, we realize something that might influence our lives for decades.

Halloween Spin: Take time for a special toast to the memories you’re creating with the people you love. Even at Halloween, people need to remember that life is precious.  

Pride: Defining moments capture us at our best–moments of achievement, moments of courage. 

Halloween Spin: Costume contest! You have to have one. Be sure to create, creative, thoughtful awards to honor your guests and reward all the effort they put into their spooky designs.

Connection: Defining moments are social: weddings, graduations, baptisms, vacations, work triumphs, bar and bat mitzvahs, speeches, and sporting events. These moments are strengthened because we share them with others.

Halloween Spin: Consider the purpose of your gathering and invite the people who can set the right tone for the evening. Consider inviting old friends to meet new friends. Or have the neighbors over for a Halloween-themed block party. Maybe you want a mixture of your closest friends and family – people you can really unwind with. If you’re planning a corporate event, a party for a client, or a party at your local church or school, make sure you consider the people FIRST. Think about what it will take to help them feel comfortable and relaxed together so that you can achieve your purpose. 

This book inspires the idea that human beings are changed for the better and more connected when they experience special moments together. Grab the book and have a Happy Halloween!

Real Connection at Conferences

7 Tips on How to Lose Stuffiness and Create Connection

We’ve all been there. Standing around a high-top table at the post-session networking happy hour, listening to some CEO drudge on and on about their accomplishments, how they graduated from Yale, and, of course, about the three beautiful children at home and their many accomplishments. It’s not that we don’t want to hear about another person’s life. But, we tend to pull out our showy sides in these environments. The air is filled with one-upmanship, and we can’t seem to reveal anything fresh, raw, or honest. The saddest part is everyone attends a conference to learn and collaborate in meaningful ways, but that’s not happening if real, human connection isn’t happening. As an event planner, you can try something different! Let’s check out some ideas inspired by gathering guru, Priya Parker.

If you want to create more connection and meaning at your next conference or gathering, try a small dinner the night before the event. You and your team can create multiple small dinners if you want to include everyone or choose 12-15 people who you think need to connect. Here are some tips on how to create the kind of depth missing from stuffy, puffy conferences through an intimate dinner:

  1. Set a clear goal for the evening. Something like turn off all networking switches, elevator pitches, and help people to connect authentically. 
  2. Focus on normal preparations that support your goal. For example, choose a private space with low lighting, warm candles, comfort food, and good wine. Your invitation should go out to no more than 15 people and explain as explicitly as possible the intentions of the evening. Tell people what they can leave at the door – work accomplishments, resumes, and pre-planned speeches for sure! 
  3. Choose an enriching theme. For example, “nothing related to work,” “stuff we want to say, but don’t,” “what I know now,” or Priya Parker’s famous theme “a good life.” 
  4. Give some thought to the structure of the conversation. Will you encourage everyone to share their thoughts through toasts? Through a game of some kind? Or will you come up with your own creative twist? 
  5. Welcome your guests as they enter, handing them cocktails and making many introductions. This entrance sets the tone for the evening ensuring your guests feel comfortable, appreciated, known, and seen.
  6. Create name cards and consider your goal when establishing a seating order.
  7. Begin the dinner by raising a glass and thanking guests for attending the dinner. Be sure to note the rules for the evening and why you chose the theme.

Here are a few important rules Priya suggests:

-“Leave your success at the door. No need to slip in an accomplishment.”

-“Tell us something that would surprise us.” 

-“Treat this evening more like a wedding than a conference.”

-“Begin each share by telling us a story and signal the end of the story by raising a glass to the lesson or value behind the story.”

-“The last person to share has to sing their story.” (This ensures people launch into stories right away.)

There you have it! A fun and relatively easy way to add a dash of interest and intimacy to the worn-out conference model. We become better people when we both share what is vulnerable and lean in to listen to each other. Human connection creates meaning and meaning creates a successful experience that attendees are sure to remember. For more profound tips like this, pick up Priya Parker’s book, The Art of Gathering. If you’re looking for a warm, private space for your next event at Sharonville Convention Center, The Hyatt Place has many options available. Third Eye Brewery is also a fun space with quiet corners to relax and have a more intimate evening. 

Beat the Heat

Tips and Tricks for Outdoor Events in the Summer 

As the hottest month of the season rolls in, we start to get antsy. The flowers are in full bloom, everything is green, the skies are blue, and all you want to do is be outside – but not sweating through your clothes at a formal event. As an event planner, dealing with hot weather can be tricky. On one hand, everyone wants to be outside enjoying the nostalgic sights and smells of summer. But on the other hand, an event is easily ruined by sweaty brows, mosquitoes, and sunburn. Here are some tips and tricks to help you keep your cool when the temperatures soar.

– Plan for the heat: If your event is during the hot summer months, make sure to plan accordingly. Choose a venue that is in a shady spot–this will help keep your guests cool and comfortable. Renting a tent is also a good option as it can provide some relief from the harsh sunlight.

-Schedule your event during cooler hours: If possible, avoid scheduling your event during the hottest hours of the day. Plan for it to start earlier in the morning or later in the evening when the temperature has cooled down.

– Prepare your guests: Send out invitations with a dress code that reflects the heat. For example, ” cocktail attire” or ” summer chic.” Encourage guests to wear light-colored clothing and comfortable shoes. Add a note on the invitation about bringing sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and hats.

– Keep everyone hydrated: Have plenty of water on hand and make sure that waitstaff are circulating with drinks throughout the event. You might also want to offer refreshing fruit juices and iced teas. And don’t forget the ice! Serve food that is cool and easy to eat, like salads, chilled soups, and sushi. Set up special areas where guests can get relief from the heat, like cooling stations with fans or mist. 

The summer weather should be enjoyed not endured especially at fun social gatherings. 

With a little extra planning, your event can become the highlight of the season!

Christmas in July

Procrastination is often lauded as a sign of genius or creativity. After all, many of history’s greatest minds were notorious procrastinators. But the truth is, procrastination is seldom a flattering trait. More often, it’s a sign of perfectionism, stress, or anxiety. And while it may seem like putting off a task will take the anxiety out it, in reality, procrastination just makes the task more difficult and stressful. So if you’re looking to avoid the downfalls of procrastination, try to start your next project sooner rather than later. For example, what if you started planning your holiday party now?

December will be here sooner than you think, and the season will inevitably be stuffed with a million obligations. There will be extra gatherings and activities with family and friends, shopping for the perfect gifts, and preparing a feast for the extended family. This year, you can take the stress out of holiday entertaining by letting the Sharonville Convention Center help you throw an unforgettable party.

From our convenient location to our award-winning chef and dedicated event staff, we have everything you need to make your holiday gathering shine. Plus, our complimentary room rental, champagne toast, and holiday centerpieces will help you save money so you can spend more on the things that matter most this season. Don’t wait until the last minute to start planning your holiday party. Contact the Sharonville Convention Center today and let us help you deck the halls in style!

10 Tips to Make Event Planning Less Stressful

10 Tips to Make Event Planning Less Stressful

Let’s get real, event planning is stressful. At any given time, you’re bombarded with multiple projects and deadlines, and you end up feeling like every detail comes down to the wire. This is when you start chugging Diet Cokes at 10 pm to stay sharp and finish up last minute to-dos. If you’re an event planner, a little stress is inevitable, but panicked overwhelm is unreasonable. Here are a few tips we found to make your job easier:  

1. Start Early

Planning an event is an enormous task. Give yourself as much time as possible to collect everything you need to make the event run smoothly. This will also allow you to jump on your client’s top choices for everything from venue to caterer. 

2. Use Event Software

If you’re looking to maximize event ROI, try using event software when planning and managing your next event. These tools can save you time and create an integrated brand experience for your attendees. 

3. Use Event Tools

Other important event tools, such as, the project management app, Trello, and marketing automation tool, Hubspot, allow a much calmer event planning process. Do a little research and discover the best kind of technology for your event planning needs. There are so many exciting options available.

4. Create a Timeline

Create a timeline and stick to it. Having a clear timeline of what needs to be done when will help keep you on track and prevent last-minute scrambling.

5. Delegate! Delegate! Delegate!

Delegate tasks to trusted individuals or teams. Trying to do everything yourself will only lead to burnout. Spread the load by delegating tasks to others who can help you execute your vision.

6. Create a Budget

Make a budget and stick to it. One of the quickest ways to blow your event budget is by impulse buying or not keeping track of expenses. Know how much you have to spend upfront and then stick to that number as closely as possible.

7. Keep Your Attendees in Mind

Keep your attendees in mind. As you’re planning your event, always keep your attendees in mind. What will they want to see and experience? How can you make the event memorable for them?

8. Focus on the Priority

Be sure to prioritize your time and efforts to maximize productivity. The more focused you are on the right projects at the right time the more successful you will be. Try to set aside projects that don’t require your full attention at that moment.

9. Find Volunteers

Not every event staff member needs to be a hired one. Finding event volunteers is possible especially if your event is hosted by a non-profit organization or if it’s for a charitable cause. 

10. Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations

Not everything will go according to plan and you should plan for that! Set realistic boundaries and expectations for yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically and stick to them. 

By following these tips, you can make event planning much easier and less stressful. Streamlining the process will allow you to focus on executing a successful event that your attendees will love!

4 Remarkable Tech Tools to Spice Up Your Presentations

 

The way we present doesn’t always have to be so familiar. With constantly evolving technology, we have an overabundance of options to choose from when presenting our information. So why are so many of us still sticking to PowerPoint slides?

“To be fair, there’s no doubting the effectiveness of slides as a presentation tool––the format’s longevity is a testament to this. But there are a plethora of unique, dynamic methods out there that can make your presentation even more impactful.” – Meetings Imagined

Check out 4 awesome tech tools from Meetings Imagined to enhance your presentations, wow your attendees, and grab their attention this fall.

Google Jamboard

Google created Jamboard to rid brain-stormers the hassle of having to snap a picture of a whiteboard after each meeting and brainstorming session. Jamboard is essentially a digital whiteboard that allows you to come to your presentation with your ideas already mapped out, and as your meeting progresses, you and your colleagues can make notes directly on the board (as you would with a regular whiteboard.) Every note jotted onto the Jamboard is saved in real time, so you don’t have to worry about backing up your ideas with a photo on your cell phone. This is a great option for collaborative teams and meetings that encourage participation.

Myo Armband

“Myo reads gestures and motion to let you seamlessly control presentation software, touch-free.” The makers of Myo created this simple, responsive tool to let you control your presentation by directing your audience’s focus to what you want them to see—zoom in on various points, skip to the next slide, go back, and more with just a few different gestures. The tool is compatible with major presentation software like PowerPoint, Prezi, Google Slides, and Keynote.

PowToon

Keep your audience’s attention in a new and exciting way: animated videos. PowToon is an easy to use software tool that allows everyone (not just coders and designers) to create animated, professional videos in place of basic presentation slides. It’s a fantastic option for presenters who want to have fun making their presentation and have fun capturing their audience’s attention.

SlideDog

“With SlideDog you can combine almost any media into one seamless multimedia presentation.” The makers of SlideDog wanted to create a tool that would allow presenters to use multiple mediums to create a stunning, dynamic presentation. With this platform, you can combine your PDF files, Prezis, multimedia like videos or audio files, and PowerPoint slides into one big, seamless presentation. This is a great option if you have a lot of data but don’t want the hassle of switching between multiple platforms to share it.

Curious to read more about how these tools could improve your meetings? Read the full article on meetingsimagined.com.

Cincinnati is Gaining Recognition as a Top Meeting Destination

Here are 5 reasons why, from MPI Ohio Meeting Chapter.

  1. Urban renewal and adventures

“When the meetings end in Cincinnati, the fun just begins.” After investing nearly $2 billion in the downtown, Over-The-Rhine, and Riverfront development, the Queen City has had a dramatic facelift. The city has also recently installed a new street car system, allowing easier transportation between downtown districts. North of the city in Sharonville’s Northern Lights District, over 15 hotels along with a variety of both dine in and quick service restaurants have opened, and the Sharonville Convention Center offers a modern facility for various uses and has plenty of parking for guests. Meeting attendees can check out some of the new parks, foodie-centered and trendy restaurants, rooftop bars, catch a baseball or football game, or just explore the vibrancy the city has to offer after the meeting is over.

  1. New hotel developments

“In 2014 and 2015 [alone], Downtown Cincinnati experienced an explosion of new hotel properties, with the three new properties (Homewood Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, and the Renaissance Hotel by Marriott) bringing 572 new rooms to the downtown market.” In Sharonville, the latest hotel addition, the Hyatt Place Sharonville, is directly connected to the Sharonville Convention Center, meaning plenty of updated and comfortable accommodation options for your out-of-town attendees.

  1. Award-winning dining

“The headlines about Cincinnati’s food scene are piling up thanks to an influx of both big city and local chefs getting entrepreneurial in some of downtown’s hottest up and coming neighborhoods.” A quick Yelp check or even a Google search of “Best Cincinnati Restaurants” or “Best OTR Restaurants” will yield endless options of exciting new places to try.

  1. Historic architecture and public art

“Groups can now enjoy the arts and cultural heritage of Cincinnati on a quick walk between their hotel and convention center, thanks to the ArtWorks mural program, which has more than 100 murals painted on the sides of buildings around the region.” Besides the stunning murals peppered around the city, there are several free museums such as the Cincinnati Art Museum in Mount Adams, or the Contemporary Arts Center downtown. Over-The-Rhine is also home to some of the oldest, most unique architecture in the nation.

  1. Welcoming city

“In the Cincinnati region, meetings are more than welcomed, they’re celebrated.” The kind citizens of Cincinnati are more than happy to point you in the right direction or recommend the best restaurant to try. From the pro-business downtown to the open friendliness, attendees will feel comfortable and eager to explore the city. Cincinnati is also a Certified Tourism Ambassador Program, certifying more than 1,150 residents to welcome visitors and offer great experiences during their stay.

There are plenty more reasons to plan your big meetings in the Queen City. Check them out at MPIOH.org.