The Worst Advice I’ve Been Given About Event Coordination…
We’ve all been there. We’ve all had that look on our face when we’ve been given unsolicited advice. Sometimes the advice was spot on. But what about that feeling you get when the advice you thought was helpful turns out to actually be horrible? It happens more times than you think in the event industry and it can actually make your event turn into an absolute nightmare. Because of this, I have put together a list of the worst advice I’ve been given during my time in the event industry.
- “Expect great things to come from spur of the moment ideas.”
While this may seem like it’s not horrible advice, especially for the few procrastinators reading this, it’s actually the worst advice I’ve personally EVER been given as an event coordinator. In high school and college, I was the queen of procrastination. All my best work came from last-minute test cramming and essay writing sessions. I learned the hard way when I began working within the event industry, the key to success is brainstorming. You can never have too many ideas to bounce around with your team and your client. And it’s more than okay to have ideas that are total opposites; this is how you can help your client narrow down what they really want. I still work off of my spur of the moment ideas right at the beginning of my brainstorming sessions, but refining them and staying focused has helped me have successful events.
- “Always know things go wrong and deal with them as they arise.”
The idea of this is too laissez-faire for what I have learned over the past four and a half years. Yes, things can and will go wrong… it’s inevitable, but we already know this. That’s life. Things go wrong; however planning and anticipating are fundamental for when things go awry. When I first started working at Atlanta Event Center, I came from the wedding industry which I had anticipating and planning for all the wrong that could occur down to a science, and my first few months here I was amazed at all the new things I had to learn. It was a completely different ballpark. We were hosting a prom from 6:00pm to 10:00pm and flipping into a club by 10:30pm all the while plans that were made could no longer work and there was a back-up plan. Some days, there was even a back-up plan for our back-up plan. This amazed me. I learned from one of the best logistics coordinators in the industry that if you don’t stop and think about all the areas in which things can go wrong, you will be blindsided and not know the best way to deal with it. Long story short, look for areas in which you can anticipate things going wrong and create back-up plans; then create back-up plans for those plans (you can never be too prepared).
- “Have the thought, ‘I can do it on my own,’ and you’ll be okay.”
I wish I could remember who told me this so I could tell them they were crazy for thinking this was great advice. Wake up call for all of you who think you can do it all… YOU CANNOT!!!!!! If you think you can, stop and ask yourself these questions; can I be in two or more places at once? Can I smooth over an unhappy client while making sure the catering staff is plating the food properly? Can I set up the entire venue while having breakout sessions with all the other departments? Can you put out a fire with gasoline? The answer for all of these should be no and if you answered yes to the last one, then remind me to not call you when there’s a fire. The old saying, “there’s no ‘I’ in team,” hasn’t been around so long just to help kids with spelling. It’s a tried and true statement. You cannot do it all on your own. You need your team. Without a strong group to help you, you will not succeed. Put together a team of individuals who are great in different areas but can work together and learn to delegate. For the longest time I thought if I asked for help or didn’t do it on my own, I was a failure. FALSE, thinking that way made me a failure. I can attribute most (if not all) of my success to my amazing team. Learning to have that support system and outside prospective has changed the way I work, for the better.
- “Focus on the big picture and the details will just fall right into place.”
Details are essential to any great event. I am a huge advocate for making lists. On any given day, you can walk past my desk and I will have a to-do list, a timeline list, a list of all my planned marketing and social media for the week and day, a floor plan list and a list of potential ideas for our company. I’ve learned if it’s not on a list, then it more than likely won’t get done or it’s not of any importance to me. Making a list of details help you avoid overlooking things and keep the production/logistics running smoothly. Yes, the big picture is very important but without all the details how can the big picture even happen? It can’t! Focus on the details in order for your overall theme to fall into place.
Hopefully this helped to shed some light on the faux pas advice which I’m sure hasn’t only been shared with me. Overall as long as you know you can’t do it all on your own, expect the unexpected, be detailed oriented and brainstorm (a lot), then you will have success in every event you do.
Written by Mary Hutson – Marketing Director and Logistics Coordinator at Atlanta Event Center at Opera