For this month’s cover and CMP Series story, we’ve gathered some tips from sleep experts and meeting professionals on how to better pace yourself when you’re on site, so your first-up-and-last-to-bed schedule doesn’t do you in. But we also ask you to take a good look at how your jam-packed conference program may be leaving your attendees bleary-eyed and in no shape to accomplish what they first set out to do when they registered — which is to have meaningful interactions with other attendees and absorb the great content your organization worked so hard to prepare.
Ironically, when a good number of attendees come from far away and need even more white space in the schedule to adjust, our inclination is to do just the opposite, and stuff as much education into the program as we can. We have to make it worth their journey, after all. It’s a tendency that even conference organizers for sleep experts themselves seem to share. For example, when I skimmed the schedule for the 2015 World Congress on Sleep Medicine, held in Seoul, Korea, this past March, I saw that the sessions started at 8 a.m. and ended at 7 p.m., with evening events wrapping up at 9.
Of course, it’s up to attendees to create their own schedule on site. But it’s not so easy. Not only must they justify their time spent away from work, many will stick to a grueling conference program because of FOMO — fear of missing out. Bottom line: Our programs must balance attendees’ need for learning and networking with their need for rest and reflection, so they leave more satisfied than spent.
Speaking of satisfaction and spending, only half of you told us in this year’s Salary Survey that you were making what you thought you deserved. In the last few years, we’ve spotlighted how — despite the fact that women far outnumber men in the meetings profession — our survey results have indicated that men make more. Far more. So this year, we asked respondents if they thought gender-based wage inequity was common in our industry. Interestingly, only a slight majority (60 percent) said yes. But several of you said that while you suspect this may be the case, you don’t talk salary with your peers, so you just don’t know. How to address this tough issue, of course, depends on the culture of the organization you work for.
The truth is, the first step to making any significant change — whether to your education program, your sleep routine, or your salary — is to start the conversation. That’s what we’re here for.