by Jonathan Vatner | April 01, 2004

Being an expert in managing attendees isn’t enough; a meeting planner needs to be a jack of all other trades. Likewise, getting a Certified Meeting Planner credential shouldn’t be the end-all in a planner’s quest to learn; a well-rounded business education is crucial for upper-level advancement.
    “Our business is really about understanding, leading and managing humans,” says Janet Sperstad, CMP, who spearheaded the first meeting- and event-management associate degree in the United States, at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wis., in addition to running Madison-based Meeting Expectations Inc. “Acquiring skills that help you do that will make you go from good to great.”
    Read on for 10 courses that meeting planners should take, subjects that don’t concern meeting planning per se but are key to professional development. Check local universities and community colleges for these offerings, and especially if time is precious don’t forget to look online.
    For web-based courses, check out World Wide Learn (, a company that lists e-learning programs offered by institutions from all over the country. Another option is the American Management Association (, which administers about 160 online business programs. For those without extra cash, try the U.S. government’s Small Business Training Network (, which offers free online courses.