How to Prevent Burnout When Planning Virtual Events

By Rachel Sheerin

I was a sales leader in events for over a decade and I loved what I did, who I did it with and who I did it for. I was a success - but one day I woke up and it felt like everything changed.

A few years ago, somehow the career I had spent years building became something I felt trapped by. The team I’d built endlessly frustrated me and I resented them. The work I loved and brought me so much happiness left me feeling… nothing.

Have you ever had a moment like that? Perhaps a season like that? Are you feeling worn down like that right now? I get it - and I didn’t know it at the time, but I was burning out.

Simply put, burnout is when joy leaves your work. When I experienced it, burnout cost me my job, my reputation and a career and industry that I loved.

So what happened?

Burnout happens because

  • relationships change (changes to team, promotions, furloughs, etc)
  • circumstances change (working from home, pay cuts, cancellations, etc)
  • YOU change (your goals, perspective, desires, etc)

Thanks to COVID-19 our world and the meetings and events industry has had MASSIVE change, and I bet so have you - which means burnout is knocking on all of our doors.

As a recently-featured TED Speaker on Burnout and Success, I want to share with you my three strategies for preventing burnout in this massive shift to virtual events.

#1: Consume with clarity

In times of change and stress, gaining new skills and gathering together to learn can be the boost you need to get through to a new day. But having the news on 24/7 may not make for the best energy around you. Whether it’s books or music, movies, podcasts, or even conversations with friends - ask yourself, “Is this helping me or hurting me?” and choose accordingly what you allow into your mind and space. It may be hard to distance yourself from a negative friend who always complains, but you’ve got to take care of yourself during these times and stick close to those friends who are smiling, succeeding and staying positive more than ever!

#2: Share and ask

Having an incredible community to go to like the DMC Network, MPI, PCMA and other industry associations is more valuable than ever at times like these because they provide safe spaces to share and gather knowledge. Burnout can rear its head and make us feel like we’re supposed to know everything all the time – but don’t let it fool you. Be open to sharing your lessons learned with your colleagues (it feels great to help others), and don’t be shy in asking for recommendations, best practices and other helpful information when it comes to virtual events.

#3: We have to reset expectations

I want to be clear here and say that I’m not asking you to throw away your standards, because your high standards are what make you a great professional. This industry is built on exceptionally high standards – the best of the best thrive and survive here. But what I am asking and imploring you to do is adjust your expectations for perfection. Where you have previously been able to put out fires left and right on site, there will be new challenges and limitations that come with virtual events. This may be your 1st time going virtual, or your 50th, but setting the expectation for yourself of bringing your best, serving others and being a master collaborator will spell out success for you and your events. Those are the expectations to meet right now - focus and celebrate when you meet and exceed them!

The meetings and events industry is the best industry in the entire world. Nowhere else are people brought together with the sole intention of connection and celebration – and let’s face it, the open bars are pretty great too.

As the world changes and you change with it, I hope that these strategies help you keep love in your work and your life.