6 Confessions of a Corporate Event Planner
In this new series we present real-life confessions from people working in the event industry. These uncensored, frank insights tell it “like it really is”. Some details have been changed to respect the anonymity of the confessor and ensure maximum honesty can be upheld.
As a corporate event planner within a large company, here is my confession.
I admit that I have a bit of a love and hate relationship with my job. There are of course lots of things for me to love about working in events. There are also a lot of frustrations too. Some of this is perhaps down to the environment I work within, rather than my role. Here is an insight into my world.
People’s Attitude to Events Suck
As a corporate event planner within a large organization our events team is responsible for planning lots of internal events, as well our presence at trade shows and other external, public facing events.
Maybe it is just the employees at our organization but the thing that I find really frustrating is the attitude of certain staff towards our internal events. People seem to fall into two camps, they either see it as “a jolly” or they already have preconceived ideas that it will be the biggest waste of their time. Either way it gives us a battle to ensure that everyone gets the most from the event we have planned for them.
I am sure that if these colleagues were attending a conference or event organized by someone else they would apply themselves differently and show a little more respect for the organizing team. Likewise I hope that they would prepare a little better to ensure they get the most from the event? Or maybe I am just naive, having not worked in a non-corporate environment?
How Do You Tell Your CEO That His Presentations Suck?
On the other hand, I can’t blame colleagues for switching off when our current CEO takes to the stage. On a one-to-one basis our CEO is charismatic, funny and inspiring but somehow this all goes by the wayside when he takes to the stage. He really epitomises death by PowerPoint!
Myself and others have tried to offer constructive feedback and suggestions for moving away from PowerPoint slides, working with him on his script and delivery, offering extra rehearsals and coaching, even pushing for pre-recording videos and so forth. We do everything in our power to minimize the time he is on stage but as CEO he feels that he it is something he should or needs to do and obviously his decision is final. I would welcome advice from anyone else that has been in this tricky position!
Management Think That Events Happen By Magic
Now that I have been in this role for some time the one thing that wears down everyone in the event team is the disruption caused by frequent changes in senior management. A new manager comes on board with different ideas and this often directly impacts on the company strategy and the approach in terms of the events we are planning. Sometimes it stops everything dead as new policies and priorities are agreed. Management don’t realise or appreciate that sometimes we have been working on an event for a year and that expenditure, contracts and commitments have already been made. Late changes only mean inefficiencies and that our event budget is wasted. Is it so hard to understand that we can’t just magic up a completely different event at the drop of a hat?
Frustration with Slow Decision Making
Working within a large organization decision making is a very slow process and there are lots of policies and restrictions. This can often be at odds with running an event, when sometimes you need things to be signed off and move super quickly. This is infuriating but something I have learnt to accept as, like so many things at work, it is out of my control.
Especially when I first started I longed to change things and do things differently, but the team and company as a whole have got into a pattern of core events which take place every year. Although the details, the venues and the strategy changes slightly from year to year the events are not what you would call groundbreaking and, to be honest, are largely the same.
Our team will put forward new ideas and suggestions but often management decide to play safe, and they have the final say and control the budget allocated at the end of the day. Maybe we should push harder to shake things up and do things differently but I think some of the fire I had when I started out has disappeared now and there is something comforting about producing a formula that works. Maybe it is just the appeal of an easy life is too strong for me now I have a family, or too many years within the same organization!
The Grass is Always Greener
I do love working as an event planner and seeing everything come together. Travelling to trade shows and events is always fun and a great chance to speak to people face-to-face and get feedback. These trips are probably one of the coolest parts of the role for me. It is great to see what other people in the industry are creating and seeing the booth designs and plans is always really exciting.
I feel privileged to work as an event planner within a respected corporate entity and I know that many of my friends are envious of my role and always interested in what I have been up to. There are definitely a lot of frustrations I am up against but not enough to make me seek out an alternative career or seek a job with another organization just yet. All in all I count my blessings every day. Although, maybe not when I am listening to my CEO on stage!
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