‘Event coordinator’ has once again been identified as one of the world’s most stressful jobs. According to Forbes’ 10 Most Stressful Jobs list for 2016, it’s the 5th most stressful profession, falling just behind ‘police officer’.
What makes the role of event planner so stressful? According to a recent survey of 215 organisers, the top planner stressor is ‘last minute changes and requests,’ cited by 66%.
Because, here at Eventbrite, we’re always working to make your life easier, we have compiled 9 effective ways to avoid those last minute changes and bring down your stress levels.
Related: How successful event organisers stay calm no matter what
Set better deadlines
Use your previous experience of last minute changes to make a list. What are the things that cause you the most problems? Is it names of attendees coming in at the last hour or changes to the catering?
Wherever possible, at the start of a project, establish final deadlines for these items. But because we all know deadlines are so often missed, keep these to yourself and set a second set of earlier deadlines to be communicated to others.
This way, if the first deadline is not met, you can still remain calm knowing things will be finalised in time for your final cut off.
Establish expectations that work for everyone
Many last minute changes occur because of poor communication. For example, if you are working on behalf of a client, and they don’t realise that adding an extra session to the conference will cause you a big headache they’ll have no qualms in asking you to do so.
Therefore it’s necessary to establish expectations at the outset with all of your event stakeholders so they know what is and what isn’t acceptable.
Set out a project management process that everyone agrees to, including a timescale for decision-making. Revisit the plan regularly with those involved to check progress and ensure there is a sense of urgency for decisions to be made.
Related: Get our RACI Event Management Template to help
Leave wiggle room in the schedule
When planning the agenda, don’t stuff in loads of back-to-back sessions with a tight 20-minutes for lunch. Events hardly every run exactly to plan. Sessions overrun, speakers arrive late, attendees wander off during breaks and have to be rounded back up.
If you’re running against the clock, these little things can quickly become disasters, but if you have a generous schedule that allows for a bit of fluidity they can be accommodated without a problem.
Related: 5 Common Event Schedule Templates to Follow
Arrive at the venue super early
Think about how far in advance you need to be on-site and then double it! Although it might seem excessive, being early and having plenty of time to deal with any glitches is the best way to ensure a smooth running (stress free) event.
If the event is at a hotel and you can stay onsite during preparations, do so. The more time you have to familiarise yourself with the venue and the team the better. Make sure you get the chance to conduct a pre-event briefing with everyone involved, from the service staff, to the caters, to the AV technicians in order to make sure everyone’s on the same page and any issues can be flagged up early.
Related: An introduction to mindfulness for event planners
No matter how much pre-planning you’ve done, and how perfect everything looks on paper, sometimes it’s necessary to physically have a go at staging something to make sure it works properly.
Get everything set up as early as possible. You don’t want to discover the boardroom table you’ve hired won’t go through the door of the meeting room just before the delegates are due to arrive.
Run through all sessions and presentations, testing all equipment and technology. Stress the importance of arriving in time for rehearsals to all speakers and session participants.
Related: 5 Tips for reducing stress before an event
Hire reliable suppliers
Working with trusted partners reduces the likelihood that you will be let down and consequently have to deal with changes at the last minute. If you have used suppliers previously that did a great job don’t be tempted to switch just to save a fraction off the budget – it could be a false economy.
If you have to source new suppliers, ask for references and follow up with those past clients to be sure you can have complete faith in the company to get the job done.
Related: 17 EventProfs share how to stay calm and reduce stress
Have a contingency plan
The key to a stress-free event is preparation – this includes being prepared for anything. You need an adverse weather plan, you need a replacement speaker lined up in case of dropouts, you need to know additional staff can be drafted in if needed. All eventualities should be planned for.
Having this all in place means you have a clear procedure if changes do need to be made and it needn’t be a major stress.
If you’re using an event registration system such as Eventbrite, you will have access to real-time data that can help you better manage your event both in the run up and on the day.
For example, keeping track of registrations means you can proactively upscale or downscale meeting rooms, catering requirements or furniture hire orders and avoid nasty surprises on the day.
Meanwhile, you can access your data from any device and quickly print off up-to-date attendee lists and name badges and keep track of special meal requests or access requirements.
Use the Eventbrite Organiser app to check your delegates in when they arrive and you’ll quickly know if numbers are lower than expected and can react accordingly. Making use of real-time intelligence enables you to respond quickly, while doing things digitally lets you be more flexible.
Related: 15 of the best new apps for event planners
Have a way to communicate changes
Bottom line is you can’t avoid all changes. The trick is to have a process in place for minimising their impact when they do occur. Thankfully, technology makes it easy to communicate changes across your event.
Having a digital agenda that attendees can access through an event app means you can update timings, speaker details or room numbers in minutes.
You can also send out notifications to attendees’ smartphones to make them aware of any shift in the schedule, delays or complications. Knowing that changes can be communicated with minimal fuss will ease your stress levels.
Related: How to get a better night’s sleep before you next big event
Event planning will always have its stresses, but anticipating and heading off those predictable last minute changes can help you keep your cool when the heat is on.