Event planning is a hustle and bustle type of job. There are a lot of moving parts, and everyone and everything needs your constant attention. The intensity can make anyone want to run screaming to the hills. But isn’t that life? Forrest Gump said “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” And Forrest spoke truth. My life as an event and meeting planner has given me some great lessons that I continually apply.
1. Be nice. One of your first lessons as a child was to “play nice.” This holds true from childhood to adulthood. Unfortunately a lot of organizations have a “cut-throat” attitude, where playing nice is for “wimps.” Not so. It does pay to be nice and to play nice. In the world of events, it’s all about making connections and doing the big asks. Being genuine, exuding kindness and being someone a vendor wants to work with lays the foundation for an event. How? When you are nice and kind, your negotiations will likely go much more smoothly. Ask and you shall receive - if you are nice. Your goal is to create and foster relationships. You are winning when you are being nice.
2. Make them feel special. I have a knack for remembering names. I will meet someone briefly and if I encounter that person again months later, I will remember his name. The reaction is always surprise and a little bit of delight. Names are very personal. It is our identifier from the crowd, and some names have a personal meaning, which oftentimes, suite the name-bearer. Always find a way to make people feel special, known, attended to. That “specialness” goes a long way (see #1), and can create great professional relationships and clients and vendors clamoring to work with you or send events your way.
3. Integrity always wins. Say what you mean and mean what you say. When working with a client on their event, there are a lot of unknowns and elements that can not be measured at the beginning stages of an event. There are also unforeseen things that occur during an event. Handle those situations with integrity and honesty. If it was a planner mistake, admit it, but resolve it. Finger-pointing and hiding will only get you into trouble.
4. Don’t get fixated on nonsense. Don’t stuck in nonessential details! Even though event planning is about details, there’s the hidden danger of obsessing over the little things that ultimately don’t matter. The aesthetics are very important and as a planner, you want a “wow” or “ohh, ahh” factor from guests and participants. You want them to feel important and served and for the event to flow, however, whether the serving spoons face in or out is NOT a big deal neither is the world going to end if there is a fuschia rose among a sea of red ones. Perfectionism is no bueno.
5. Relax - it will all work out! You’ve designed and planned for months. You’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s, double-checked your event list and have your team and vendors in place, poised and ready to start the event. Press “go” and keep going! Don’t sweat the unimportant details (see #4 above) and don’t fret over things that aren’t in your control or grip. Resolve any glitches or problems, but stay relaxed. A relaxed energy will keep your team and staff relaxed and trusting your leadership. And above all, if you can, try to have enjoy some of the party that you created.