Successful, Low-Stress Events

Pulling off a successful event is something that everyone wants; however to pull off a successful event with minimal stress and relative ease takes organization. Here are a few key things to keep in mind to pull off a fantastic event with little to no stress.

  1.  Plan ahead. – This one may seem obvious, but there may be aspects that you overlook.
    • Visit the venue long before the event, and look for the little things that you will need during your event; where are the power outlets near the registration table, is there a house phone in the room or hallway of the hotel.  If not ask the venue for an onsite contact number for during the event.  Is there storage onsite during the event for your boxes, is this easily accessible by you, or is it in an employee only area? Learn where the restrooms, coat racks, and garbage cans are located.  This way when you show up on the day of the event you don’t need to look for these things, and you can direct your staff and guests to these items.  If you are unable to visit the venue, ask your contact to provide a floor plan with this information.
    • Find out when you have access to the venue, can you deliver your materials and supplies early? Is there a cost for this? The less work you have to do on the day of the event the easier it will be. Have your boxes and materials well labelled, that way you can delegate on the day of the event. Give yourself at least an hour buffer, two is better!  Setup always takes longer than you think, and if you finish early, relax and grab a cup of coffee!
    • Take photographs, draw diagrams, make lists of table setups, room layouts and things to do, but be flexible if things don’t work out to plan. No event ever goes 100% to plan, so remember that things will change and just roll with them.
    • Communicate with all those involved and provide them with the information that they need.  If you revise documents clearly label them as a new version.  Have printed copies of these documents ready to hand out during the event setup.
  2. Confirm Everything. – The number of times I have had a simple phone call save so much hassle is astounding!
    • In the week leading up to your event contact the venue, the catering, the audio visual provider, the guest speakers etc.  Confirm that everything is in order, that no papers need to be signed, that your numbers and their numbers match etc.  This should only take you a few minutes, but can save you an immense amount of stress! Verify that you can still get into the venue at the time you had originally booked, the venue may have had another booking prior to your event. Be polite and understanding if things have changed, this is why you contacted them at this time.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for another copy of the contract, or event order, particularly if anything has changed; make sure that everything is still in order.
  3. On the day of the event be prepared.
    • Arrive early, nothing gets you more stressed out that running up against the clock, often you are able to get in to the space early if it is available.
    • Have everything clearly labelled, and delegate tasks prior to arriving, that way everyone can get down to the task at hand.
    • When you first arrive on site meet your contacts for the day. Confirm again that everything is in order and on schedule.  If you have third party contractors, introduce yourself to the head representative on site.  Knowing who your contact points are, and having them know who to contact is extremely valuable, particularly as the event time approaches.
    • Staff appropriately. If possible the event organizer should be able to float and supervise the different tasks.  This allows you to feel comfortable that everything is getting done to your specifications, and you are available to answer the small questions that come up.
    • If you have a physical set up, bring a change of clothes, set an alarm on your watch or phone for when you need to go change, and actually go when it sounds.
    • If you are going to leave the venue, let someone know.  Leave a business card with your cell phone number on it with your key contacts, not only does this allow them to contact you with pressing concerns, but it also allows you to network with them in a no pressure manner.
  4. Relax. This is probably the most important thing for the organizer to do the day of the event.  Nothing ever goes completely to plan, but if you are relaxed and in control these hiccups will be easily dealt with, and those around you will be able to function better.  Stress is contagious, so is being calm and assertive.
  5. Plan for teardown. — This is so often overlooked! 
    • Know ahead of time what you want to do with your supplies, are they being packed up to be reused at future events, are you giving the items away as door prizes or to a charity, or are you simply going to throw the items out.  Make sure that if you are keeping items that you have kept the boxes from setup.
    • Make sure you have staffed this appropriately, if you had four people help you load in; make sure you have some help for the load out.  The more hands you have after the event to help out, the sooner you get to go home.  You can’t have too much help!
    • If you are shipping items from the venue, what is their policy on storage? Better yet can it be picked up immediately?
    • Say “Thank You!” Being polite and courteous to the venue staff can go a long way, if they like you, and feel appreciated the more they are willing to help you out in the future.  Never burn your bridges!
  6. Post-event evaluation. – Learn from your mistakes!
    • After the event review what worked well, and what almost sank the entire event.  If it was your fault, determine how to avoid it in the future.  If the problem was with one of the service providers, communicate that with them.
    • Give recognition where it is due.  If you received good to great service consider tipping, or write a thank-you letter.  If you don’t have budget for tipping, if you have extra swag (marketing material, pens, bags, hats etc.) give it to the staff (this is of course if you would want to receive it yourself! But it would be if you were giving it to your clients!) Simply writing a note thanking the venue for the services is often more powerful than money.  If you received stand out service from any one employee write a letter to them or their supervisor.  If you develop a good rapport with the event staff, they will be happy to go above and beyond during your next event.

 Events are always a challenge, but with a little planning and a calm and assertive attitude you would be surprised at how easy and stress free they can be!

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This entry was posted by Adam Kouwenberg on Monday, November 15th, 2010 at 11:44 pm and is filed under Events. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.