There’s nothing more daunting to me than braving the stores during the holiday shopping season. Especially on Black Friday, when high levels of anxiety and aggression are almost palpable as consumers push and shove to get the best deals on the coolest new gadgets. Seeing the holiday rush first-hand over the past few weeks reminds me of the pressure and stress that most often accompanies planning a special event, trade show, or media engagement. To avoid getting trampled by your own fear and trepidation, follow these three guidelines that will help make your next event a little less stressful.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time – The more time you have to plan your event the better equipped you’ll be to handle any unexpected hiccups. Therefore, it’s important to give yourself a timeline with key deadlines. This will allow you to focus on just the items that need attention in the moment and will give you the opportunity to pat yourself on the back when you've accomplished milestones along the way.
Making Lists and Checking Them Twice – The best way to decrease stress when planning an event is by staying organized; and what better way to stay organized than making a list?
- The Run-of-Show: To me, this is most important and helpful list of all. The run-of-show runs through an event’s timeline from start to finish and details all the activities that will occur during key time-frames. Creating this document enables you to take a deeper look at how you want the day/night to play out. For example, if you’re planning a speaking engagement, your run-of-show could include the times speakers will be presenting with details on what topics they’ll be discussing and materials they will need.
- The Roles and Responsibilities List: At the top of your run-of-show is a great place to list all parties involved and what their roles and responsibilities will be before, during, and after the event. Documenting expectations of all team members is critical because it allows everyone involved to be clear about what’s expected of them and of others. For example, if you’re planning an out-of-town trade show you would want to include who’s responsible for booking travel, which team is working on creative materials, and who will be managing media.
- Checklists: Checklists can be used to keep track of all your to-dos: what items you need to purchase, what media outlets you still need to connect with, important milestones in your planning process, etc. Getting these items out of your head and organized on paper really goes a long way.
Sharing is Caring – Planning a special event alone is not only daunting but can also lead to a poorly planned event. It’s important to share your plans and ideas with colleagues to make sure you’re not forgetting any details. One method I find helpful is going through the run-of-show step-by-step: first with the team-members collaborating on the project and then again with someone not involved. This will help you get perspective from several angles to make sure all i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.
All of these tips will help to make the planning process a little less stressful, so here’s to your next event being less like Black Friday mayhem and more like a smooth sleigh ride to grandma’s house.