It happens to the best of us. Bob says, “Who's got an extra few minutes to pull this meeting together? It's not a big one — just 20 or so people.”

You scan the room. Joe volunteered the last time, you can't imagine Karen organizing anything, and Laura, well, she always ends up doing it. If there ever was a week where you'd have time, this would be it. “Sure, I can do it,” you murmur under your breath.

Where to start? Let's see, how about hotel rooms? You've always used the MeetingsWithaView Hotel, so you give them a call. They're booked those three days — can you shift your dates? Back to Bob. Eight hotels and three hours later, you've moved the meeting to another city and now have rooms and meeting space.

Rear projection or overheads? Anything special you need for PowerPoint? That's right: You read in Corporate Meetings & Incentives that PowerPoint is the kiss of death for a meeting, so strike that. What about breakfast? Will there be signs to let people know which meeting room to go to? And will they get those little mints on the table?

The invitations are all typed up and half printed out when you run out of letterhead. It's not until almost all are faxed out that you notice the typo.

In roll the confirmations. Pete will be there, Nat won't. Jeff is golfing, but not Cheryl. Half of the people aren't even getting back to you.… You were sure you'd find someone to make all these calls, but you forgot this is the week your staff is away (at a meeting, of course).

Then there's the golf. Of course, there's a big convention in town and all the best courses are booked solid. You finally find room for four foursomes (say that three times fast) and book it. But you're no golfer — should you pair the players ahead of time? Get their handicaps, or what? You forgot to ask who's renting clubs, so there's one more round of e-mails. And who even knew about left-handed clubs?

On the day before the meeting, you realize you need a classy gift for attendees. You'd love to surf the Web for new ideas, but for now, those old T-shirts from the company's summer picnic will have to do.

In the middle of the night, you sit bolt upright in bed. Lunch! Why didn't anyone remind you that your golfers aren't going to have a chance to eat until dinnertime? You find a piece of paper and scribble the BOXED LUNCHES. Just before slipping back into an exhausted sleep, you make a vow never to let Bob throw another meeting your way. And that you'll never do it to anyone else, either. That's what meeting planners are for.