What happens when a bunch of people run amok doing nothing really, and yet fuss over microscopic things that lend no value to a successful event, but hamper its success? What to do to ensure a successful event instead?
Sometime ago, we helped a wonderful client company reach out to the media for an event that involved a personality to grace the event.
The personality lived up to his public persona, every bit a true gentleman and tremendously helpful in every way to make media interviews we arranged a success. He was a delight to work with and we applaud him.
Conversely, the external team managing his time was a total frustration to work with. Every thing we flawlessly planned were often short-circuited and we had to re-arrange things just to fit these meaningless changes which lent nothing to the event. This promotion team frustrated everyone also with manners unbecoming in a commercial arena (to put it kindly).
Even during the media launch, they would rudely step forward to brush the media and our client aside, betraying a complete lack of upbringing. It was embarrassing to themselves especially, since the media's attention zeroed in on their poor manners.
Nonetheless, our client and us, as professionals, worked around all the unnecessary hurdles and simply prodded on cordially to complete the media event successfully. It was a great success given all the hard work our client and our firm put in.
The project was actually really simple. The personality's arrival date was fixed. His departure date was fixed. He had a small agenda to promote his brand and an obligation to fulfill. The dates were to be filled with good media interviews. Any good event and project manager would have easily fixed the slots available and allow things to conclude. Event planning and promotional publicity are things best left to the real experts and people with good positive attributes.
What are the most important things to note in event planning?
1. Keep a macro view.
Events and projects are not necessarily linear, and may have branch events along the timeline, or have interlinked relationships. A poor event planner often zoom into microscopic details and forget the greater part of the event, lending to a total collapse to an event, or simply limp along with makeshift decisions which waste time and resources, and frustrate everyone. A good project manager must be able to elevate his vision way above the entire project, look at the broad details, timelines, resources, and then allocate people to complete the tasks independently. The role of a leader at this point is to motivate and inspire the team and stakeholders achieving the project, and to encourage and lend a hand simply to smooth the workflow along to a successful project or event conclusion.
2. Invest in a project management system.
All too often, some of these lackluster "event planners" fail spectacularly because they attempt to do things and make changes to an event or a project along the way without regard to timeline, resources, and people. They will fail. For an intelligently planned event, there is a need for automation. Invest in a good and simple project management system that can help your team lay out the timeline, what available material resources are available, what human capital can be used for what parts of the workflow, what dates and times are milestones, what targets and objectives are to be fulfilled. A good project management system should not be made for rocket scientists with doctorate degrees, but be easily learned and used daily by our people. I would recommend something akin to Basecamp, which I personally use, or the likes of Zoho Projects or Planio. With the popularity of tablets and smartphones, invest in the right apps to synchronize with a good project management system, and you can keep everything in shipshape wherever or whenever you are. No need to go crazy out there.
3. Choose competent and respectful people.
Events can be pressurizing sometimes, and there are many things that need to be arranged without emotions and stupidity damaging the workflow. Competence is key, and yet, for events, you need people who are respectful of others as people, and have social and communication skills. Competence is hard to find, so look carefully, look slowly, and decide judiciously when choosing event planning people. They can make or break your event. If you can't find all the competencies, choose people who have good social manners and positive personalities, and their people skills will be able to smooth small kinks along the project timeline. For people with nasty personalities that would rile feathers with clients, partners, media, or other stakeholders, remove them promptly. They would poison morale in the entire team or organization, and lend no value to your organization, and may damage your corporate reputation because people represents the company they work for. Choose cheerful, hardworking and positive people, and half the battle is won.
Events and projects can be dreary, or fun. It all depends on your mindset. Keep a positive view of all things, and you can have successful events and projects, and what's more, make more friends and allies. How you perceive the world is often a reflection of yourself. Why not gift a smile to someone else when you can, because it may mean a lot more to others?