Are you the organizer or manager of an upcoming event? You likely already have 700 things you’re worrying about. You are also just as likely looking for any reason you can find to offload the tasks and subtasks at hand to any qualified candidate. But that can be the problem: is the candidate qualified, or is the solution? Today we are going to look at places where the proverbial ball can drop in event production – and what you can do to prevent that.
First of all – breathe. [In…………..and out.] This isn’t a meditation training – this is ground-floor stuff. If you’re THE person for an event, the only thing you may want more than for it to go well is for it to be over. You’re going to need to take time for yourself. Don’t slack on nutrition, sleep (I know, I know…) and time for yourself. You operating at a sub par level will inevitably impact the quality of the event you are sacrificing so much for. That said, let’s look at some statements that you’ve probably heard that could spell disaster for your event!
“But X Went Great Last Year!”
Congratulations on the success of a repeat event! The stars shone brightly upon your event management skills, and you’ve earned yourself an opportunity for a repeat win. So now you’re telling yourself that this or that or the other thing won’t be a problem because “It was great last year!” As soon as you hear yourself say that – freeze!
Sorry to break it to you, but there are always new circumstances from one event to the next. Even for in-house event/banquet/catering management, with the same boardrooms, ballrooms, and conference centers, there are nuances to every event. You can not count on the availability and timing of every vendor, every employee, every part of the power grid, every city policy, every corporate rule to remain 100% impervious to change from year to year. I am not saying “do everything completely over from the ground up,” but I am saying setup some sort of checklist against what could have changed.
Q: The vendors nailed the catering last year, what should I do to ensure the same quality?
A: Review your correspondence (or have your assistant do so) to ensure what was covered then, and reference / reprise that conversation. Also, if you have the same lead contact from that vendor, ask them pertinent questions that would give you a sense of any changes in that purchase order, and the details associated.
I know this can just sound like another to-do, but even the run-down from a single phone call can be the difference between a burst bubble of blissful ignorance on event day or a smooth sailing before, during and after the event production.
“He Said He’d Handle That.”
That doesn’t mean it’s handled. Same as before – It doesn’t even mean “he” (or “she”) knows exactly what you meant when you asked “Will you handle that?” It is critical to understand where in the process of ‘handling that’ this person is at in the days leading up to the event. If they need help, it is your job that this person gets help – not theirs. You are accountable for the event, consequently, you are accountable for this person’s actions. Make sure they are exactly the actions you want them to take – and that they are prepared to do that.
“It Should Be Fine.”
This one makes my heart sink. This is the sound of disaster about to strike! When you hear yourself say this – stop. The difference between “should be” and “is” can not be understated. Weed these “shoulds” out of your language.
A friend who is the executive director for a successful, local nonprofit was running down the elements of an upcoming fundraiser with me. Her answer to two my questions about her preparation was “It should be fine, right?” In that moment, I had to remind myself what I said earlier in this blog – breeeeeeathe. I asked to her to listen to what she just said. She stopped, smiled a little and said “I should probably check on that, huh?” This is a brilliant woman with an incredible amount of resources to pull this event off. Hence it will certainly be a success. But simply addressing “How is the presenter handling the advancing of the slides on the computer?” in advance means that she’s got one less task to ensure completion of the day of the event.
“I’m Sure They’ve Got Plenty of X”
Oh you are? Sometimes I’m sure there are no red lights between home and work. So I leave with exactly the right amount of time to spare – only to find I’m late when I arrive. And I’m not shocked. This is another statement that should give you pause when you hear it. Check with the person accountable for the physical equipment or other provisions, and get a realistic number of those items on paper. Extension cords (quantity and length), rugs to cover cabling, internet access, oil for Shafer dishes, plates, tablecloths, songs (for playback), batteries – check and double-check!
Note: Stay south of obsessive. It’s not their job to handle your anxiety either. It’s your job to ensure that all things A-Z are accounted for, not painstakingly obsessed over.
“What Kind of Idiot Wouldn’t Think of Y?”
I don’t know, what kind of idiot would think that question would benefit the event you’re producing? There are more things that you haven’t thought about, and the person you are counting on is another human being, like you. Have your team win. Finally, do not write anyone off – they could potentially be the game-changer and have you look like a rock star.
Do you have more suggestions for conversations you have with yourself or your staff that you’ve found are really unhelpful?? Share them below – we are all in this together!
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