by Sean Schuette
I graduated from college with a degree in technical theatre with an emphasis in stage management. A stage manager is often the first person to arrive and the last person to leave during the journey of a theatrical production. They are responsible for the show’s consistency performance to performance, and are often the lead person in charge, for often the director is onto another project they are working on. You are responsible for calling in understudies when a performer is sick and ensure all items are in working order before the curtain goes up. Once underway you call all the cues that make what the audience sees happen before their eyes. You are key to making it all execute, which is very much like the role of a meeting planner and why I love the work I have been in now for eighteen years.
Since production and theater is something I did as far back as my high school days, it is very much a part of my DNA. I often found myself in the scene shop helping to construct a set piece for a production, as well as backstage during a performance ensuring scene transitions happened on cue and cast members were in place. There were some times I was onstage acting yet often was truly at home behind the scenes. In the meeting industry, we do a lot of pre-work and planning, that when the day of the event happens, it is often like we are lifting the curtain on a production. It is also the case that is often a post-event emotion felt which is a direct reflection of all the work that went into what attendees experienced and is common in the theatrical world.
I approach events I am working on always through a producer’s lens. I put myself in the shoes of the attendee and how they are going to experience what they are a part of. It can be as simple to attending a reception for 100 people to the details of a multi-day conference where you have a room set for 500 and a sizeable stage with many sessions happening over many days. I credit all I learned over those years in high school and then into college with how I focus and apply those processes to my work as a meeting professional. It fits me well.
Sean has parlayed his technical theater degree & background into the meeting industry that lets his producer's heart & passion flourish, directly impacting the programs he partners on with groups & clients. He has enjoyed a 18 year journey of diverse experiences actively leading the planning & execution of events ranging in size from 150 to 16,000 people. The work is ever evolving & fosters ongoing learning from industry peers, resources, & first-hand encounters in the world of meetings & events. He has been with SPIN since its start as a LinkedIn group and loves the community and family he finds by being a member.
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