20 years older…20 years wiser?

Rosanna Machado | November 1, 2019

Today, 20 years ago, I started my career in the events industry. It’s hard to believe how technology has evolved in that time. Gone are the days of flicking through the Blue and Green Conference book to find a venue for a client, the excitement of when a fax arrived and the novelty of getting my first mobile phone, several months into the job. And whilst technology has helped us to work smarter, I do think that 20 years ago, human interaction was at the centre of everything we did and this is as important today as it was back then, so let’s not ditch all of our old skool ways.

  • There was a certain formality to meetings and communications from preparation, setting agendas to how you dressed. I’m all for ditching the stuffy suits but I do think that a certain level of formality brings a clear purpose to communications. Things are thought through and well crafted (why not when you used to have until 5pm to send it to make the evening post!). When you are communicating, take the time to pause and reflect. What would you like to achieve? Who else is involved and what are their motivations and concerns? What is the most appropriate form of communication given everything you know about the content and people involved?
  • In the olden days before PowerPoint was so readily used in business, we would ask speakers to write a script which we would storyboard to create relevant, creative and highly impactful slides for the event that truly supported the script. Just because we can all use PowerPoint now, it doesn’t mean we are the best person to do it. My Top Gun ice bucket challenge film made me chuckle but I’m still no Steven Spielberg or Tony Scott! Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, think about the best use of your time and use experts around you to get the best results.
  • Life was simpler 20 years ago – you made a plan to meet someone and you couldn’t bail out as there was no way of contacting them on the day. Nowadays everyone says they’re busy and there are more distractions so it’s important to remember what’s important to you and to prioritise, as well as being respectful to other people. I’m fiercely loyal to people when I have made commitments and in the past this has meant that I have over-committed myself so I’ve learnt to pause and reflect, look at my commitments and goals for the whole week before committing to something so that I can stay loyal to people but also to what is important in my life.
  • What I loved 20 years ago was the frequency of face-to-face communications. Let’s not forget this – the value of picking up the phone, getting to know people, looking them in the eye. Using empathy to understand what’s going on – it’s not to say it can’t be done via text or email but there are more signals in tone of voice, body language and facial expressions. Let’s not hide behind the tech if a solution can be reached quicker with another form of communication.

20 years on, I still love my job, I love how it’s evolved but most of all I love that I can still embrace the art and joy of human connections.