Interviews with Planners – Robby Slaughter

Robby Slaughter is the founder of AccelaWork, a business improvement consulting company. His team works with a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to help increase productivity, simplify workflow, and optimize business processes.

Robby’s particular focus is the use of stakeholder-driven business improvement through the use of process mapping. Working with individuals and small teams, he facilitates discussions in which problems and opportunities are rapidly identified. The collaborative and visual nature of this approach has a profound impact on organizations, who frequently see dramatic and sustained productivity gains within a few weeks.

Although AccelaWork does not work primarily with technology, a background in computing drives their scientific approach to improvement. After an extensive career in IT systems development, Robby realized that the principal challenges affecting individual workers are not technological in nature, but psychological. He discovered that to become more effective and efficient at work, we need to empower individuals with authority and responsibility. His own consulting efforts focus on assessing workflow challenges, helping stakeholders to design and develop new business processes, and implement systematic, people-centered changes throughout the organization.

Robby is a frequent contributor to several regional and national magazines and has over one hundred published articles. He has been interviewed by international publications, including the Wall Street Journal. Robby is a local and nationally known speaker. He is also the author of several books. His latest is The Battle For Your Email Inbox: Managing Your Email Without Drowning (The Efficient Professional Series).

What is the best advice you have ever received as an event or meeting planner?
Every second of dead time feels like a minute to attendees. You have no more important duty than maintaining your event attendees’ focus and attention.

What is the most unique location you have ever planned an event at? What was great, what was challenging?
The most unique location was the basement of a converted church for a book launch; it was hard to find and nonsensical for the topic. We focused extensively on signage, had greeters to direct people, and clever communication methods to ensure that attendees knew they were in the right place.

What advice would you give to someone entering the event or meeting planning industry today?
Technology is both your best friend and your worst enemy. Broadcast your event online and people will use that as an excuse to stay away. But provide clean, efficient solutions for check-in, participation, and follow-up, and people will talk about you.

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What do you see as the most challenging aspect of being an event or meeting planner, and how do you overcome that challenge?
Communicating value. It's hard to get sponsors to pay for speakers and marketing services, much less the expertise of planning and the hard work of getting things done.

How do you think our industry will evolve in the next five years? 
Telepresence will radically transform the event experience. It's too easy to deliver a mediocre program once people are already on site, but if they can tune away with a click of the mouse we will have to be better.

What makes you successful as an event planner?
Attending other events, and learning from mistakes.

In your opinion, what is the best and worst industry trend of the year?
Best trend: electronic feedback systems for participants.
Worst trend: too much email.

What is the best industry book that has helped you as a planner?
Free Publicity: A TV Reporter Shares the Secrets for Getting Covered on the News

What is the one tool/item you can't live without on a daily basis as you go about your event or meeting planning job? 
Microsoft Excel

Robby Slaughter
Principal, AccelaWork
Affiliations and Memberships: BNI


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