Executing a great event is a tough job. From the biggest decisions to the smallest elements, the best event planners sweat every detail to give delegates the best experience possible. But all that pressure can take its toll.
Luckily, there are a lot of things that can be done to make the event planning process less stressful. From practical tools like checklists and software, to simple things like sticking to your routine, here are seven things you can do to take the stress out of your event.
1. Create a Checklist
The easiest way to make your many tasks feel manageable is to break them down into a checklist (or multiple checklists). Use your partners to your advantage. Talk to your venue, AV team, and catering partners to get their perspective on what’s needed to plan and execute a successful event. Pull together their feedback, requirements and deadlines to create a series of manageable checklists to guide you through the planning process.
In today’s digital age, apps, calendars, software, and websites can serve as places to house your checklists and to-dos. You can set reminders and receive push notifications directly to your phone.
That said, never underestimate the power of a good, handwritten checklist. Sometimes, the feeling of crossing off an item is a stress reliever in itself.
2. Build a Great Team and Delegate
While you want to be in control of every detail, the weight can quickly become too much to manage if you’re the gatekeeper of every task. By giving yourself too many responsibilities, you’ll become the bottleneck for decision-making, slowing down the rest of your team.
Surround yourself with the right people and build a team that you can trust leading up to, and during, your event. Establish clear communications, reasonable expectations, and an easy-to-follow process and reporting structure to set everyone up for success. Delegate and give team members an opportunity to shine.
3. Let Technology Do the Work
Technology can do a lot of work to reduce your event planning workload. From online registration, to email distribution software, and on-site digital signage, take advantage of technology to reduce paper-based communication with event attendees.
During your event, social media platforms like Twitter can be a useful tool to respond to delegates’ needs in real-time, without the need for face-to-face requests or feedback. This makes it easy to distribute the responsibility of real-time conversation management across your team, leaving you to focus on other event details. Assign a team member to be in charge of social media monitoring throughout the event. This will reduce your workload and ensure online feedback is managed in a timely manner.
4. Request a Space Just for Your Team
There’s no denying it—when you’re on site, you have a lot on the go. In the middle of the chaos and excitement, having a quiet space where you can decompress goes a long way. Work with your venue to establish a space that you can use as a home base throughout your event.
This room can serve many roles. From a storage space for your personal belongings, to a workspace to keep drinks and snacks to help you stay fueled for the day; create a space that’s just for you. Request that it be secure, but close enough to ensure you’re accessible to your team, delegates, and partners.
5. Establish a Single Point of Contact for Your On-Site Needs
When you need immediate action, having a primary point of contact on-site can take the stress out of the situation. Before your event, work with your venue to establish one person who can answer your questions, connect with other venue staff to resolve issues, and serve as an extension of your team.
Set an open line of communication with this person and ensure you have their email and cell number. You’ll need to establish clear expectations with your contact including a contingency plan if, for some reason, you can’t reach that person. Knowing that you have someone you can call on whenever you need support throughout your event will go a long way in managing your time and stress level.
6. Get Outside Once in Awhile
Relax. Close your eyes. Take a breath. Explore. And experience the world outside of your event.
By the time your event has arrived, you’ve selected a great location with new experiences for you to soak in. Take any opportunity to get outside, get some fresh air, and explore the city streets and culture. Make sure to schedule time in your day for a time-out. A quick change of scenery can clear your head and reset. Plus, it gives you the chance to see what your delegates are experiencing during their down time.
7. Stick to Your Routine
With so much on the go, it’s tempting to go into autopilot. Do your best to stick to your normal routine so you can manage your energy level, as well as your hunger, physical and mental health throughout your event. If you’re an eight hours sleep kind of person, don’t try to run on five. If you’re a breakfast eater, don’t skip out in the interest of time. If you’re a runner, pack your sneakers and hit the pavement or local gym for a quick run. Taking care of yourself can eliminate mental fog and keep you alert and ready for action.
Bringing along familiar elements from your home life can help, too. Bring a pillow from home, a playlist of your favourite music, a relaxing candle, or your favourite snack food—sometimes these things can be just what you need to unwind, even if just for a few minutes.
From start to finish, planning an event has its stress-filled moments. As prepared as you are, there are bound to be a few small bumps in the road. As an event planner, you want to make sure your delegates see you as calm, cool, and in control.
Putting yourself first, taking advantage of the resources around you, and choosing how you manage pressure can take a high stress planning experience and turn it into a smooth event for you and your delegates.