Okay, maybe I am stretching the truth a bit. There is no way to have a completely stress-free event and most of the time, a little stress is a good thing. However, since the job of Event Planner is considered one of the most stressful jobs you can have, I thought it might be a good thing to try and identify some of the ways you can create a calmer environment as you move into the new year.
Here are 4 tips that help me keep my work and personal life in balance and I hope they can help you.
Tip #1: Be Honest and Realistic with All Your Stakeholders.
The first thing any meeting planner needs to do is find out when the client wants to hold the meeting and their budget range for the whole event. If they want to hold a national sales meeting and are only giving you 90 days to pull it off, you need to either convince them you need more time or walk away from the business. In addition, if they are not willing to allocate the proper amount of dollars for meeting space, renting audio visual equipment, and a marketing campaign, the event will come off as half-baked.
After all, you are the expert. Be confident in your assessment and be willing to walk away from the business if it will affect your personal reputation.
Tip #2: Make Certain Your Time is Valued and Compensated.
It doesn't matter if you are a corporate, association or independent planner — the old saying "time is money" is very true. Often times when I am planning an event, 5 or 10 additional items need to be executed that neither the client or I anticipated. However, if I complete those things, I need to be compensated for them. Put a true value on your hourly rate and go back to the powers to be and say the following:
"I will be happy to complete the additional tasks. However, I will need to increase my fee by $____. Is that alright with you or would you prefer to…(have someone else do the work, skip these steps, etc.).
"I will be happy to complete the following tasks. However, it will take me ____ hours to complete which will push the timeline for (another meeting, project, or day-to-day stuff) out further. Is that alright with you?"
Tip #3: Don't Blur Boundaries.
As much as event planners would like to, we cannot plan and execute events by ourselves. We need to count on several partners to pull them off including: hotel and conference services staff, event audio visual rental companies, the client, sponsors, and exhibitors. The beginning of the planning cycle is a great time to be clear about the responsibilities and expectations of each partner. Trust that they will carry out their respective responsibilities and don't try to tell them how to run their business.
Tip #4: Keep Everything in Perspective.
Even if you think everything is going wrong, just remember it probably isn't as bad as you think it is.
I was knocked into reality this week when I was talking to a colleague about one of the meetings I was planning and how I was having a difficult time with the client because attendee numbers were not what they expected. I asked my friend how she was doing — when she burst into tears and told me she had lost her job the day before. In a flash, all of my problems seemed insignificant in comparison to what she was going through.
It is important to remember that it is just a meeting or event and yes, you will do your best to make it work. But executing a little patience, sensitivity and trust with all your partners will help build long term relationships with them.
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