Not All that Glitters is Gold, but She Wears A lot of Black
Updated: Aug 16
Like a swan graceful and calm gliding above water, yet frantically paddling underneath. What your audience sees and what goes on behind the scenes are two very different stories...
If you haven't got ready in front of a random mirror five minutes before your guests arrive or used your phone camera to slap on your event face, are you even an event manager?
Event Management: Why is it So Stressful?
I hope for many of you reading this you have had a much-deserved rest from your event management duties over the Festive season, as event professionals, we have a duty to deliver the most exceptional experiences to our attendees and for our clients, but we also have a duty to preserve ourselves and to take good care of our mind, body, and soul no matter how much we love what we do! So that leads me to take a deeper look into why #eventmanagement is so stressful and how you can rid yourself of some of that stress.
Event planning has been ranked continuously as one of the most demanding jobs with Forbes having it listed as #5 on their list of most stressful jobs noted as only slightly less stressful than running into a burning building or protecting the public - Go figure!! Most people are surprised to know that event coordinator is so high on this list, and really of all the lists, we could be on we would probably prefer not to be on this one!
Whilst we may not be putting out literal fires, we do deal with plenty of potential 'disasters' the majority of us are responsible for the end to end planning of a multitude of events throughout the year, some of these events may be once-in-a-lifetime special occasions - The stakes are high and the pressure can be intense, even the coolest of clients can be deceiving and change quicker than the #Melbourneweather
Late nights, long hours, living out of a bag it takes its toll.
We cannot deny that it's a high-stress, high-reward environment, with the travel, being away from home, liaising with stakeholders, dealing with clients, working in the public eye, creating experiences and meeting those ever-demanding deadlines to some extent it is no surprise that event planner is ranked as a tough gig. You've worked hard to bring together an experience and there is always the chance that the last thing you want to happen happens.
How can you conquer the stress of planning an event?
Its an oldie but it's a Goodie, Break it Down.
Break the event down into tasks, get it out of your head and written down, it sounds so simple and it really is, even pulling apart the small tasks is an effective practice in reducing stress. When you imagine your event with all the tasks as one it can be overwhelming, everyone will depend on you and the knowledge you are holding hostage in your head - Writing things down, creating lists and action plans will help you to empty this potential anxiety trap and establish a plan of attack with help at hand.
Just Accept It, Not Everything Will go as Planned.
I've said it before you need to be more than just organised to be an event planner, you need to be meticulous and detail oriented, choosing to work in events is a career made for us control freaks. I am speaking first hand because I am one and I can never see myself doing anything else. That inner freak lights up when you see a project unfold exactly as planned, but let's be real that is not always the case. Events go wrong, sometimes even fail and it's better to embrace that concept sooner rather than later.
A weathered events planner knows the score and with that, they immerse themselves and those around them with calmness and sensibility. For those rising through the ranks something as small as an AV issue can cause a meltdown, the last thing you want is to be caught off guard creating a back-up plan for a number of scenarios will help in avoiding any major issues, but keep in mind you can't plan for everything so be prepared and learn to embrace failure. I promise you it will make you stronger, understand the impact of the failure and what you can do in the future to avoid it happening again.
Never, ever blame yourself for things not going as planned.
You Need to Set Boundaries.
With a continuous calendar of events do you ever really finish work for the day? I really hope you are saying yes to yourself right now, but we all know the scenario too well it's 8pm your chilling with a vino in hand, and then your hear the alert on your phone, 1 new message illuminates the screen its a client, do you check it or not, if you have set those #boundaries then it's a not. I know we all want to make sure our clients are happy and our events are an outrageous success, but being stressed is not a key to success. Setting when you are and are not on the clock from the get-go is imperative in setting expectations. Let everyone know your 'office hours' and stick to them, your boundaries are important and being clear from the start will stop them from being overstepped and you being overworked and stressed!!
The inescapable Event Day Stress.
Event day is stressful, you are on high alert and that is absolutely normal!! Your fight-or-flight response is peaking but embellishing in your mind what could go wrong Vs what actually could go wrong are two different things. No matter how perfectly thought out your event, when mistakes arise on the day, do not panic, you need to establish if it is even an issue, to begin with, and if it is you need a clear mind to focus on how to resolve said issue. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches on the day, Could you be unnecessarily placing stress on yourself? is the issue something minor that you can brush off and everything will be ok? Timelines may be slightly off schedule, are the florals a slightly different hue to what you were expecting, will these items really ruin your event? I can honestly say your attendees are 99% of the time not going to notice, but if you start flipping out you can bet your arse they will. #Letitgo
Stress affects the way in which we perform, our clients and attendees do notice it...
Hope for The Best, but Prepared for The Worst.
In the short-term, it may seem like you are creating more work for yourself but having a plan is worth the effort to avoid risk. In the lead up to your event make it a task to work through every detail of your event, consider what could go wrong with key elements, elements that would have a real impact on your event if they didn't go as planned, and keep your irrational fears out of the mix. Some things may be reviewing the roles and responsibilities of your team both immediate and wider, who is handling what and when? do you have a point person assigned to various tasks so you have one contact base and someone with your authority to take action if needed? Do you have contingencies in place? importantly do you have a contingency fund written into your budget, I usually allow 10% of the overall spend as my just in case fund.
On the day having your communications plan rehearsed with your team will stand you in good stead if things should take a turn for the worst, know with your team the plan for escalation and resolving in what happens if scenarios play out in reality. Do your venue walk-throughs, know potential weak spots, know the areas that require additional attention, being on top of these potential issues early doors will be a stress eliminator on the day.
A key to managing event planning stress; Don't sweat the small stuff, events always find a way of working themselves out!
These are just a few tips in helping you to conquer the stress of planning an event, time and experience will also help you to build a repertoire of go-to methods that will ensure the success of the events your organise.
Please share any other tips you may have to help readers curb their event stressors...
Anyways welcome to a #NewYear and a new calendar of events to fulfill