I have written before about the importance of delegation in events management and having people to help and support you. However, what happens when too many people become involved and stop you from doing what you need to do?
All event managers have experienced it – the barrage of comments and ‘helpful advice’ from volunteers, colleagues or clients who think something should be changed last minute or offer their opinions on how the event should look or work. So, at what point do you have to get people to back off and let you organise an event the way in which you know it will work? This doesn’t include the tips and advice which help to build an event, but rather those ones which override the things you have already confirmed and have in place, or that go against those parts of an event which are essential but that only an event manager cares about (i.e. health and safety, fire hazards, etc).
Before it gets too much, the best approach is to thank the person for their comments and say “this is already in place, but in case anything changes, I’ll bear X in mind”. This usually helps to get them to back off for a while, but without offending them (good for clients and colleagues!).
You could also give them something else to focus their efforts on. Is there a part of the event which they could look after or take responsibility of? If so, send them that way…and away from you!
In my 10+ years of running events, I have come across this kind of behaviour on numerous occasions and find that one of the best ways of staying calm is to try and remember that the person’s intentions are good and they only want the event to be as successful as possible. Don’t forget that they usually think they are helping, and so are unlikely to realise what a burden they are becoming, so try to distract them or refocus their efforts without going into meltdown!
In my experience, I have found that people only ever remember two aspects of an event; the food and the toilets!
You can have organised the greatest event of all time, but if your guests had to queue for 30 minutes to use the loo, or it cost them an arm and a leg to buy a snack, that’s what they will tell others about.
So, whether your event is in the middle of a field, a brand new purpose built venue, or even your own wedding, spend some time checking the ‘essentials’ and you will ensure that you’re on the way to a successful event.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have attended and exhibited at a number of exhibitions and expos, and it was clear to see which stands received the highest levels of interest from those passing by. It wasn’t those stands with the best giveaways or most eye-catching banners, but those being manned by people who were willing to engage with the delegates at the event.
Exhibiting at business or trade exhibitions are a great way to promote your product or service to those you don’t know, and give people a hands-on chance to experience the product or to meet you and your staff.
I found it worrying how many people sat behind their exhibition tables and tapped away on laptops during the exhibitions I’ve attended recently. No-one will speak to you or ask you questions if you aren’t ready to say hello, start a conversation and capture their attention. You may as well not bother attending at all if you’re going to sit behind a table and ignore everyone passing by.
The best thing to do (especially if your exhibition stand is to be manned by your staff or volunteers) is to remove the chairs and move the table to the back of the pitch or space. Obviously, keep a chair available for when you/your staff need a rest (you can spend a long time on your feet at these events) but position yourself in front of the table and ensure you communicate to anyone representing your business that you want them to be ready to engage whenever the opportunity arises.
Often, the outcome of these events is what you make of the opportunity so decide how you want people to perceive you and your business, then make sure you embody that on the day.
On Monday, I gave a guest lecture at my local university in Bedfordshire for their event management course, on marketing and communications for events.
This was a great opportunity, and I really enjoyed sharing some simple tips on where to start in incorporating marketing into events planning – an essential part of events management if you want anyone to attend your events!
I thought it might be useful to include the slides I used here on the blog, as it includes basic advice which are of use to all small businesses, not just those organising events. That includes thinking about why you’re doing what you’re doing, the ‘big 5’ marketing tools at your disposal and when your marketing should end (or not, as the case may be).
If you have any thing you’d like to add to these, do get in touch.
When planning an event, you can make things much easier for yourself by getting a committee or even just a couple of volunteer helpers involved. No matter what the size of the event, whether a large scale fireworks night or even just getting a table of ten together for a local awards dinner, getting extra pairs of hands involved will help you to avoid missing any details and stop the organisation becoming overwhelming or too time consuming.
When selecting who will help you, look for those who are enthusiastic or have particular skills. If you are planning a ball, you will definitely want people with good contacts on your organising committee, to help boost table sales. If you are planning a charity walk, someone who is good with administration will be helpful to make sure that paperwork and applications are handled efficiently.
If you don’t know of anyone who can help you, don’t forget that you could ask for a couple of volunteers from a local college or university. Students on event management courses need experience to help them in the future, so in exchange for a reference, you can find enthusiastic and willing support.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or support – no matter what the event, having other people involved will make it easier for you in the long run.
You may have seen the news over the weekend about Milton Keynes’ “Winter Wonderland”, which was closed down just one day after it opened for being below the standard you’d expect for a festive-themed event, with complaints about a Santa in a cheap suit, an ice rink without ice and reindeers without antlers.
It isn’t the first time that an event aimed at families and Christmas-lovers has sunk below the bar and generated a storm of complaints and bad publicity, so you have to wonder why organisers open events which are bound to meet upset and complaints.
The best way to make an event memorable is to go the extra mile in the small details. People will remember those details that make them smile, whether it be bales of hay at a barn dance, or flower garlands given to guests at a Hawaiian summer party. Some details on their own may seem cheesy, but when they are part of an event which has been well thought out with the theme running throughout the event, these touches will go a long way to generating positive word of mouth publicity for your event.
The outcome of Winter Wonderland’s failure as an event on the company itself is largely financial – a loss of earnings during this Christmas period, the missed opportunity of repeat bookings by the Milton Keynes Council for future years, and the unlikeliness of being hired for an event in the near future without some serious improvement to their operations.
If you are planning a festive event this Christmas, whether it is for a public audience or even just your company party, put some thought into the details, go the extra mile, and make sure people are talking about it for the whole festive period.
Don’t forget to set up a #
Twitter is everywhere, and the majority of your audience will most likely be using it. Many will have it on their phones and be using the social network at your event. So when you plan an event, set up a hashtag from the outset and ask everyone to use it if they are commenting on the event, i.e. #Mktg2013
Keep it short – you don’t want to reduce the space they have to make comments about the event, and try to respond to as many of the comments as you can, depending on the size of your event and number of tweets received.
Having a hashtag in place will make it much easier to group all of the relevant tweets together for assessing the reception of your event and will also catch the eye of non-attendees who may be sufficiently intrigued to sign up for your next event.