There’s good reason why the position of event planner is consistently named to the top ten most stressful jobs each year. There are so many moving parts, demands, and unexpected complications that can arise. And through it all you not only have to find viable solutions, you need to ensure you keep your composure and remain gracious to attendees, sponsors, and vendors.
That’s a lot of pressure!
One way to decrease the pressure is to set up a strong and well-executed plan for the day of your event. Streamlining your operations will help ensure you’re at your most productive, which in turn will yield brilliant results.
But how do you increase productivity when you’re already feeling stressed and not fully in control of your schedule? These productivity tips will get you on your way.
Incorporating These Advanced Tips into Your Event Planning Will Save You Future Headaches
First, save yourself some headaches by implementing the following tasks ahead of time and making them part of your standard operating procedures:
Set expectations early for last-minute changes on behalf of clients and sponsors. Having good communication in place in advance will prevent a headache later.
Add penalties into vendor contracts for those who don’t deliver or don’t deliver to spec, including those who pull out after a certain date. Make sure everyone is aware of these before signing any agreements.
Communicate deadlines for all involved including vendors, sponsors, speakers, etc. Reiterate these often. Send visual reminder countdowns (image memes) for those who don’t like to read reminder emails.
Hire a team you feel confident in. A weak link will bring you more stress. In between events, scout out talent and test them on smaller events so you have confidence in them for the larger ones.
Now that you have strong processes in place, let’s move on to what you can do in the time immediately surrounding the event and at the event itself.
Next, use these tried-and-true tactics to ensure you are at your most productive on event day. We’ve divided the tips into actionable sections for easier implementation.
Practice Good Self-Care
Every good event starts with self-care. If you’re not at your best, it’s impossible to be fully productive. That means:
Get a good night’s sleep.
Arianna Huffington has written an entire book on the subject. Shoot for 7-9 hours of rest each night with consistent sleep and waking hours.
Start your morning with something soothing (like meditation or a jog).
What kind of activity depends on what you enjoy but find something that puts you in a good place first thing. Some people even find journaling a benefit to their morning routine.
Wear clothes you feel comfortable and confident in.
If you look good, you’re more apt to feel good. Investing in a few classic, quality wardrobe pieces that you update with accessories for different looks makes selecting an outfit effortless. It also makes you more efficient because you’re not spending valuable time trying on outfits. You know what works. Doing so can also become part of your brand. While not necessarily “classic” wardrobe pieces, consider the “Steve Jobs” mock turtleneck or Mark Zuckerberg's signature hoodie.
The human body is largely comprised of water. When you don’t drink at least 64 ounces of water a day, you run the risk of dehydration. Dehydration can cause inflammation, headaches, and many health issues as water is essential to cell growth and flushing toxins. Water also helps fill your stomach if you need to push off lunch for a little while. However...
Eat. Don’t skip meals.
If you don’t have time to sit down, carry protein bars with you or a quick, healthy snack. Your body needs fuel to perform optimally. Hunger can cause anger and irritability, something you don’t need as an event planner. Remember, low blood sugar never made anyone more productive.
Use Lists to Stay Organized
Using to-do lists is an efficient way to stay organized and understand how everything fits together. You can create lists electronically and share them with your team using project management software or keep them on paper, whatever you enjoy more. We suggest the following types of lists and ways to manage them:
Create a master to-do list as well as daily check-off lists of things that need to be done leading up to the event.
Each item should be assigned to someone and the date (or hour) of delivery/completion noted. The day of the event you may decide to break it into hourly or blocks of half hour chunks for greater visibility.
Break down big to-do’s into smaller ones so you can feel more accomplished and less overwhelmed.
Yes, your to-do list will be longer but you’ll move through it faster and may be able to assign smaller tasks to others to accomplish them even quicker.
Rearrange your to-do list based on when things need to be done AND when you’re at your peak performance levels.
Some people are morning people; others need some time to get up to speed. Knowing how you perform best is critical to arranging your schedule for optimum performance. However, keep in mind there are many studies that have been done on decision-making later in the day. Avoid it if possible because people tend to make decisions quicker and with less accuracy as the day progresses. Make important decisions early on, morning person or not.
Keep a list of small to-do’s to fill in when you have a minute in between event tasks.
This is different than your larger to-do list. These are small items that take less than three minutes to accomplish. The list could include something like “Tweet a picture of dessert.” You’d be surprised how many times you have a few minutes at your disposal. With a list like this, every minute can be a productive one.
Employ Effective Management and Productivity Skills
Check in with everyone on your team three business days before and again the day before your event to ensure all of your requests have been accommodated.
This includes vendors and speakers. Go through your list. Do not simply ask “Is everything taken care of?” It may seem inconvenient at the moment but it will give you greater peace of mind and will ensure everyone is on the same page before things get hectic.
Reach out to sponsors a week to three days out and ask them if they need anything.
Get to their requests that day, if possible.
Do a walkthrough of the venue space.
Make any final corrections. Note anything that is still outstanding. Assign that to someone on your team to follow up on. While you may be tempted to add it to your list, it’s likely not something that really requires your attention. Make a note on what needs to be done and what is considered a success and pass that on. Speaking of….
Delegate without micromanaging.
If you trust your team and you took the time to ensure everyone was in the right place with the right skills, giving them additional responsibilities will make everyone happier. Remember you don’t have time to micromanage and no one performs well under those terms. There may even be negative health ramifications. No one needs to be sick and stressed.
Always have a “MacGyver” kit.
Fill it with all those little items you might need like a needle and thread, duct tape, a lint roller, stain stick, batteries, chargers, mints, floss, clear nail polish, etc.
Assign someone to watch social media streams so a small issue doesn’t become a big one.
Create a social media escalation procedure chart to give this person some autonomy. In this flowchart, list “if/then” scenarios that explain what they can handle with pithy comments (or attendee support) and what requires direct intervention. Include both situations and attendee status. For instance, you probably don’t want your social media person running to you if someone complained about dessert. However, you do want them to notify you if the CEO of your organization did.
Batch tasks that are similar or in similar areas and do them all at once.
For instance, if you know you need to check in on the kitchen staff and take a picture of the meal for Instagram, do these things at the same time, even if one is much less important than the other. You’re there anyway and it will improve efficiency because you’re not running back and forth.
Do it when you have the time.
Don’t put something off just because you think you can. The only block of time you’re assured of is the one you’re in now. When things are hectic or you’re tired, it’s easy to put something off. But with an event, you never know what’s going to happen. You may think tomorrow morning is open and you can slide the “to-do” in there when you’re more rested, but there’s no way of predicting what that spot will look like come tomorrow. If you have the time, do it now. Now is all you have.
Maintain a Good, Productive Attitude
Give yourself a small win early on to build momentum.
While many experts suggest tackling your toughest tasks early, and that is important, adding a small, quick task that you know you can finish first thing, allows you to build momentum and feel good about getting something done fast. After that, tackle a tough job but break it into manageable pieces to keep up the momentum.
Don’t rent space in your head to doubts about the choices you’ve made.
Move on. Revisiting past decisions can take up a lot of our emotional reserve. Make a decision and let it go. If you need to change the decision, do so for good reason, not because you’ve been dwelling on it and second guessing your original thought.
Remember: completed trumps perfect.
In most events, tasks need to be completed. Working on something longer than necessary because you’re trying to get it perfect doesn’t help you or your client. Your client wants completed work, not perfect ideas.
You’ll feel better and so will those around you. While it sounds a little trite, a recent study found that those people who were unable to frown were happier than those who could. So if you want to be happier, consider that what we do with our bodies may have an affect on how we perceive emotions.
Listen to the issue at hand.
Don’t try to solve it until you understand it. Many people hear a problem and immediately begin searching for solutions before they fully understand the issue at hand and what has been tried. If someone comes to you with a challenge or issue, give them the time they deserve in understanding their side before you propose solutions. If you’re busy thinking of solutions, you could miss the point behind what they’re saying.
Streamline Your Operations for Greater Efficiency
Use a chatbot to cut down on FAQs to you and your staff.
This technology is still novel enough that people enjoy using it. (SXSW’s chatbot fielded 56,000 questions at its 2017 event.) It’s easy to implement and most attendees are familiar with voice search as it’s likely what they use in their personal and professional lives.
When problems arise, ask yourself if they need your attention or if they can be handled by a junior staffer.
Make good use of your time. If you’re working on a printer jam at registration, you can’t be handling the issue with the VIP. Doing tasks that can be passed to others (like the printer) gives the appearance that you are running a one-person show or that you don’t trust your team.
Streamline and automate what you can.
Is ticketing a major headache for you? Consider self-check-in kiosks, which require minimal staffing.
There are many moving parts when overseeing an event and that doesn’t even cover the pieces you have no control over. Look for ways you can streamline tasks and delegate to become more productive. By doing so, you’ll free up time to handle the challenges that you can’t plan for.
Wondering how you can be even more productive on the day of your event? Check out some of our other resources like the Best Tips of the Trade for Event Success webinar or learn how to Avoid the Last-minute Panic Dance.