Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

July 2013

Performance Anxiety

By Convene Staff
As told by Kirsten Olean, CMP, CAE,  Director of Meetings, Association of American Medical Colleges.



There was an actress who had a theatrical show that translated to issues that were important to our audience, so we decided instead of having a keynote address, we were going to have her do a performance piece.

About two days before the actress was due to arrive — we were already on-site at the meeting — she asked to switch from the luxury hotel she'd originally requested to another luxury hotel. Neither one was in our block. That was when we really started to go, huh, I think she's going to be a little more high-maintenance than we thought.

When she gets to the convention center and she sees her dressing room, it was, “You know, it's really dry in here.” She's going to need a humidifier. She's going to need a full-length mirror. She drinks a special drink. I had to go to one of my hotels I was staying in and be like, “Can I get a humidifier and a full-length mirror? I promise I'll bring it back in two days.” I got one of my AV guys to carry the mirror for me, and I carried the humidifier over at six o'clock in the morning on the day of the performance.

And then she required no interruption and complete silence an hour before her performance. So, you know, you're backstage in a convention center, and people are trying to roll carts that are full of dishes. And we literally ended up putting up a piece of yellow caution tape across the hallway in the back of the convention center to try to stop that from rolling through.

If I hadn't known how good she was and how great her performance was going to be, I think it would have actually been much more frustrating.

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