As an event manager you will probably be making some kind of event planning decisions every day. Some small: a little detail change. Some BIG! – the consequences of which will have a significant bearing on your events’ ultimate success. Getting the big decisions right matters. You will be judged on these decisions.
So is there anything we can do to help us make difficult event planning decisions. Make the process easier and more reliable. If you are wondering whether this is based on personal pain then yes, I have made mistakes: but I pride myself on being a fast learner and the incidences have reduced with time and experience. Remember you need to practice events in order to learn to be an event manager.
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How to improve your event planning decision making
Big decision: Sleep on it – yes really
As an event planner you will always have to take some ‘big’ decisions. These are important decisions with consequences! I think it is therefore vital that you don’t rush into taking them: don’t be impatient. So, a pause in proceedings can be a good thing.
Don’t get me wrong here: I am a big fan of event planning meetings where decisions are consistently taken and not where we sit around chatting about taking a decision but not take it!
So, you have a major event decision to take. You have all the right people in the room and all the latest information you need. You discuss. You disagree. You compromise. You have consensus. Before you press the send button or sign the contract, I suggest pressing the ‘pause’ button. In this case sleep on it. Let it brew overnight. Then the following morning – send out a quick round robin email to all the key players and see if you are all still in agreement. Sleep is a powerful tool for sorting things out, getting a new perspective or getting clarity that it is indeed the right decision.
I believe it pays to reflect on important decisions.
I can’t hear you – speak up
Writing great event promotional copy is hard. It’s years since I have had any help writing this type of copy. Like many of you its up to us to create the words which (when done well) will attract attention and sales. Agreeing this copy is also a big decision, as there is simply no margin for error. Pressing the send button prematurely could spell disaster for your event.
My suggestion is to READ the email copy, campaign, event web site text out ALOUD to someone whose opinion you trust. It is a very powerful process which will often result in changes: some subtle or some wholesale but mainly end up with a different version of the same text but a better version. You are looking for honest feedback and from someone who understands events and can put themselves in the audience’s shoes. The whole process can be a little bit embarrassing (like being back at school) but worth it.
My other rule of thumb is that I will always edit my copy at least 5 times before letting it go live. Sometimes it’s more and yes, the odd typo still gets though…hey ho!
Yes, it’s a great decision – everyone agrees with me…well the one’s I have asked do!
In the trade it’s called confirmation bias. You’ve already taken the decision and now you are looking around for things or people that confirm this fact. Your judgement is perhaps coloured: as you really do think it’s a great idea and you can be quite difficult to persuade off your chosen path.
Try to be self-aware here – keep an open mind: are you being blinkered and not wishing to recognise opposing views?
Event planners need to be confident in their own skin. It’s not a job for the shy retiring type. But you need to be careful of what might be termed over confidence about the future… you just know in your gut…your event is going to sell out. Going to be great!
Ask yourself where are you drawing this confidence from. Do you have evidence your confidence is well founded or is it just wishful hoping! Please check.
Too narrow a focus
Many industries – do what they do in the way they do it. I hear this time and time again on my event travels…well this how we do it our industry. Fine if it works 100% of the time. Not fine if your narrow focus is preventing you from exploring all options. Also, not fine if your intention is to get noticed and to stand out from the industry crowd. Doing what everyone in your industry is doing…is NOT much of a business strategy.
Oh **** event day decisions
On event day you will undoubtedly have to make quick unplanned decisions. At best, you have minutes: at worst seconds and you’ll then have to live with the consequences.
It’s part of job. So, my advice when confronted with this situation (it’s going to happen) is listen very very carefully to the messenger. Don’t speak. Listen hard. Pause – repeat what you have heard. Think – are there any follow up questions you need to ask to get a full picture of the incident or situation. Consider your options and if possible articulate them to someone on your team whose opinion you trust. What are their thoughts. Consider them and review your decision, if required. Take the decision and then actively monitor the situation. If it works great, if not reconsider the options again and do something differently. Don’t leave it and hope for the best. It won’t go away!
Taking event planning decisions will always be hard but it’s part of the job. Something you have to do. With time and experience and by surrounding yourself with experienced colleagues or a network of events professionals to sound out, you ‘ll find it becomes easier and less daunting.
Do you have any decision-making tips. Had any major disasters you are happy to share? I’d love to know your thoughts
How do I help event planners like you?
- I provide a range of in-house event management training courses and masterclasses covering all types of public and business events each tailored to clients’ specific needs.
- I have two on-line events courses “So you want to be an event manager?” and my How to organise successful events course – for those who prefer the on-line learning environment. This course is more geared to those new to events.
- I create and deliver subject specific workshops and talks
- I provide a range of event consultancy services and on-going support to those who have a specific need e.g. the writing of an event management plan and or want somebody who has been their many time before to help and advise them through the event management process
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About Chris Powell, The Event Expert
I run an event management training and consultancy company (The Event Expert) delivering In-house and On-Line event management training courses and event consultancy services to accidental, occasional and professional event managers. My objective is to give them the confidence and skills to design, plan, promote and deliver their own successful and rewarding events.
My courses are based on 20+ years of practical event management experience. I practice what I preach!
My clients come from the world of business, education, sport, the public and charity sector, training companies, tourism, creative agencies, universities and festivals.
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