Just breeeeathe….If only it was so easy to do when you’re in the middle of the event planning crunch. Event stress is like the proverbial monkey on an event professional’s back – hard to shake it off but so necessary to get things done for your event or meeting. By now you have heard that event planners have one of the top 10 most stressful jobs (landing at #5) according to CareerCast.com study “The Most Stressful Jobs of 2017” (http://bit.ly/2oFXvED ).
If you are an experienced event professional, as I have been, this is not surprising – you have experienced – or are experiencing event stress first hand. Getting a grip on and reducing event stress as best you can is critical not only for hosting a successful event or meeting; it is essential for keeping you cool, collected and stress free (ultimate goal!) throughout your event planning and management process.
Doing an event takes a lot of careful planning, coordination, and management of time and resources – money and people in particular. But in talking with other event professionals, there are some tricks to manage event stress and even ways to reduce or avoid it completely. Let’s check out 7 steps to reducing event stress that go beyond taking those deep breaths.
- Making Time and Being Prepared
- Making Back up Plans
- Learning to Love Your Checklists
- Working with a Strategy in Mind
- Working Collaboratively with Your Team and Delegating
- Taking Care of Yourself
- Using Event Technology to Help You Plan and Manage
Make Time and Be Prepared to Reduce Event Stress
Stress often comes from not being ready for something and event stress is no different. It creates feelings of panic, loss of control and being overwhelmed. To prevent event stress, think of the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.” When you are prepared and something unexpected occurs, the situation is handled more effectively because you are prepared for the possibility of an unexpected event.
How do you prepare? Start planning early. Sounds like good common sense but it’s surprising how some event professionals will see a long lead (a rarity in itself) time as an opportunity to put things on the back burner. Even if your event target date seems far away, do not delay and wait until it is closer to that time. Time has a way of passing quickly and life gets busy so plan as soon as possible.
If your time has passed too fast or work life took a turn to chaotic and busy, consider pushing your target date back an extra week or two to give yourself more time to prepare. Devoting extra time at the early planning stage helps you review all the event’s necessary parts in ways you might not do if you are more pressed for time. It also reduces event stress. Remember this is the time to think about your event as a whole writing down ideas for venue, theme, program, speakers, menu, entertainment, and invitation style. Think big picture and start your planning!
Back up Plans Reduce Event Stress
And part of “being prepared” is having a backup plan. Things can, and often do, go wrong or at least not as you envisioned. Speakers can drop out, people change their minds, venues don’t work out, and marketing strategies aren’t delivering. Always ensure you have a backup option for everything and not relying on just one. Talk about event stress when your first option falls through. It’s best to prepare yourself for the worst possible outcomes and this will reduce your event stress as you’ll know you can overcome everything with ease.
Having backup plans and preparation also applies to the actual event. No matter what you do, there will always be unexpected things that happen, no matter how planned or organized you are. You just have to work under pressure and that’s why having you and your team ready and able to deal with the unexpected on site is important.
Although having a backup plan will help avoid major fallbacks and reduce a lot of event stress, it’s not always possible to have a backup plan for everything, especially on site. An experienced event professional – you – will keep calm and carry on, infusing a sense of tranquility to those around you. At times as an event professional, you need to accept and embrace failures when they occur. You need to understand the impact of a failure and what to do to avoid it in the future.
Learning to Love Your Checklists Reduces Event Stress
There are a lot of different components that make up an event – are you planning on keeping track of all of them in your head? Not a good idea, especially if you want to keep your event stress low. You could cause a decision making bottleneck because your team and vendors are looking at you for decisions. Juggling all the different parts can be challenging. Visualizing all of them on a checklist (and not numerous Post-Its around your office or car) can be incredibly helpful.
Think of all the tasks you need to do before, during, and after the event and create an event checklist to keep you organized, on schedule and to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Write down everything that needs to be done for your event and when it needs to be done and by whom. This may include setting a budget, sending out invitations, selecting speakers, ordering food and beverage, and hiring vendors.
Don’t be too vague about describing the tasks you need to do. Breaking down your event into small individual tasks is one of the most effective practices in reducing event stress. Seeing the smaller steps helps you remember all the parts better and not worry you are going to miss doing something. Also, there is something very therapeutic to crossing tasks off the list as they get completed. Humor yourself even if the list is very long.
Looking for help to make that checklist? Sometimes emptying your head of what needs to be done is not as easy you think. If so, try a couple of online tools such as Evernote, a powerful cross-platform tool that helps you “dump” what is inside your brain. Another option is Basecamp, a web-based project management tool as well Asana a web and mobile application designed to help teams track their work.
Reduce Event Stress by Working through Tasks with a Strategy
A lot of people cringe at the word “strategy.” Sounds hard to do and above my pay grade. It’s not and it shouldn’t be. It’s part of organizing your planning, forcing you to stop and think things through clearly before you take action. If you think about it, doing events without an approach or strategy results in poor performance and only makes additional event stress for you. So slow down a minute and think before acting.
One way to lay things out strategically is by creating an action plan with realistic timelines and goals. This step really should be done before developing your event task checklist. Without setting up your action plan and event goals and timeline, it’s difficult to breakdown specific tasks necessary to move your action forward and achieve your event goals. Having the plan, timeline and your event checklist helps you stay focused and see the purpose of your event for your company or organization. Add this as another event stress buster!
Foster Team Collaboration to Reduce Event Stress
Unless you are some Super Event Professional wearing a red cape with nerves of steel and moving faster than a speeding bullet (well I think we all do the latter a lot), you are usually working with a team of people to do an event. Working in a team and delegating tasks does help reduce event stress because it shares the event planning and management load. However, working collaboratively as a team without some sort of conflict can create a double-edged sword for you. You want the help but not the drama of conflict in a team. Articles on building team collaboration are numerous but one of particular interest is the 2007 Harvard Business Review study called Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams. And, as with most everything these days, there’s an app for that…see the Scoro blog 40 Top Team Collaboration Tools You Need Right Now.
Once your event checklist is complete, delegate event tasks to relevant persons on your team. Stop believing you’re the only one who can do the job right and need to do everything or your event stress will skyrocket. Sacrifice some time in the beginning to save time in the long run by teaching team members that you trust how to do the things you need done. Then embrace their autonomy to get the job done without you micromanaging their efforts.
Reduce Event Stress by Taking Care of Yourself
After a while, organizing an event can send you a bit stir-crazy and blunt your sense of reality so it is smart to take regular breaks and switch off. As a hard-charging event professional, you may ignore the signs and move forward but you do at risking your health and well-being. Stop! Breathe! Unplug! Even if you do this for a small amount of time, it refreshes and recharges you physically and mentally. You may have ways that help you switch off during stressful times so use them now. Going for a run or walk, exercise (my personal event stress buster), yoga, meditation, listening to music (yay!), seeing friends are just some suggestions for de-stressing. Whatever works to help you unwind and relax.
Some things you also need to avoid in order to decrease your event stress level. These include avoiding stimulants such as coffee (bye, bye Starbucks runs!) and alcohol. It’s only temporary so you will survive.
Probably the most important things to help you de-stress, and people take for granted or ignore, is getting enough sleep and eating healthy. Both activities seem to go out the window quickly for event planners, especially at the peak of event planning. Sleeping and eating healthy aren’t just for well-being and beauty, but are important to helping you stay energized, ready to work productively, and reduce event stress.
The better you take care of yourself, the fewer tendencies you will have to over react to everything. Event professionals tend to be prone to offering hospitality to others and ignore their own needs. Don’t fall into that trap. Here’s where just breathing is important.
Using Event Technology Helps Reduce Event Stress
Use event technology where it provides usefulness and cuts down on tedious work. In this day and age of tight budgets, fast-paced planning, and short timelines, this is critical to keep your event stress under control. You know it’s true. We discussed earlier the online technology for helping you create your event checklists – what else should be on your event technology list? Other obvious technologies include using safe and reliable online event registration and management software and get rid of the old fashion way of registering by fax or phone which is slow and stressful. Event registration and management software is a case of using technology wisely, saving time, and reducing event stress. Think about automating emails and social media posts, a feature which should be part of event management software.
Another example is to use social media accounts like Twitter for getting the word out and marketing your event – before, during, after -as well as creating a community for your event attendees. Sound like just one more task to do? Maybe, but it is amazing in how it can help reduce your stress of “how can I reach more people?” It’s also a wonderful way to engage your attendees and create a fun event.
Our Conclusions on Event Stress
As event professionals, we all experience some level of stress as we plan and manage our work life. We need to deliver great attendee experiences, make our bosses or clients happy but also need to preserve ourselves and stay physically and mentally healthy. Our stress deeply affects the way we perform. Our team, our colleagues, our attendees notice it. Using some, maybe all of these steps discussed can help keep your event stress in check, keep you healthy, and hopefully sane. Try them and happy event planning!
Online Event Registration Software: rsvpBOOK Reduces Your Event Stress
Using event technology to make your event planning and management easier and run more smoothly is really a no-brainer. Finding the right event technology to help you is another story. At rsvpBOOK we believe we are the right online event registration and management software to reduce your event stress. We believe we make the complex easier.
We can provide you smart, simple online event registration and event management software to save time, save money and allow you to work more efficiently to get things done right and on time in this era of increasing high expectations and event stress. And, the versatility of rsvpBOOK event management software meets your needs no matter the event type or size, from professional training meetings and workshops to large conferences.
Our powerful software brings together all the online registration and event management, marketing, email automation, social media tools, onsite check-in, evaluation and attendee feedback reports, database integration, online payment processing tools you need into a single place. We help you streamline your event processes from beginning to end. And if you need us? We’re here for you via phone, email, or online chat.
rsvpBook has you covered so your event can manage itself and you have less event stress. Smart. Simple. Efficiently.
Try us at www.rsvpBOOK.com. We make the complex, easier.