If there’s one personality trait that event planners share, it’s our ability to stay cool – even when the building is on fire, the smoke alarms have gone off, and everyone else around us flails their arms around looking for the exit. Ok, so maybe (hopefully) the pressures you face during events aren’t quite that dramatic.
Still, stuff happens. Equipment malfunctions, your keynote speaker has an off day, the emcee flubs your event’s biggest sponsor’s name. Anything can go wrong during an event, and as the event organiser, it’s your job to keep your head on your shoulders and keep things running smoothly.
And while everyone has their preferred ways of keeping calm under pressure, these are our favourites.
1. Plan for failures
Even the best laid plans can be derailed by unexpected situations. Your event’s equipment could fail, performers may make mistakes, and speakers may live up to expectations. As the event organiser, it’s your job to plan for these unforeseen circumstances.
And when situations that can’t be planned for arise… it’s up to you to salvage the situation. Understand that most event participants won’t blame you for the unexpected – but they will blame you for failing to take action to circumvent these situations, or fix them.
2. Have your team take action
As the person in-charge, it’s your responsibility to see that when things go wrong, you have the personnel in place to get things moving in the right direction. Remember, you are the commander-in-chief, not the foot soldier.
So while it’s tempting to go running the direction of every (metaphorical) fire that ignites, stop yourself. Have your team execute your contingency plans at ground level, while you maintain a bird’s eye view of everything that’s happening at the event.
3. Project your (positive) intention
The most outstanding leaders, are the ones who can keep their cool during troubled times. They project positive intentions that are picked up by their team members, who can then go about fixing problems calmly, yet quickly – while keeping the show moving.
Take a moment to breathe, quieten your mind, and visualise how problems will be solved by various members of your team – then transform your positive intensions into reality.
4. Keep things moving (don’t fix everything)
If you’ve collected event feedback (using a voting system or mobile event app), one interesting finding you might have discovered, is that participants generally don’t remember event details. In fact, some of them might even forget entire presentations or performances by the final day of the event! What they do remember, is the general feel of the event.
Your event participants are likely to recall if the programme appeared to be running smoothly, and whether they had a good time.
Post-event surveys consistently show that even if problems occurring during the event, so long as they were handled well and the event kept moving at a good pace, participants would have either forgetting about issues, or decided that the problems didn’t affect their overall enjoyment of the event.
The lesson here, is to always keep things moving. Your event doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be great!
5. Above all, communicate
Always keep an open line of communication with your team. This includes more than just your event organising team – but your extended team, that includes your client and/or boss.
Keep everyone who’s involved in the running of the event in the loop, and you’ll find that with the right mindset, moving forward and ensuring the success of the event will be possible – even in the most pressing of circumstances.