I just read one of those blogs that makes me want to stab myself in the eye, I was truly suckered. The article was a tease; comparing a well-planned and organized event to one that was poorly planned, had no ‘customer service’ elements, signage or follow up. Which one do you think the attendees enjoyed and remembered?
I would have to file that answer under, well, duh!
The title of the blog was “Have an Amazing Event Every Time”; okay, I’ll bite. Having done lots of events, and being one of the more anal planners I know, I live the details, as they are the make or break, believe it or not. And no matter how I sweat the details, more times than I’d like to admit, something goes wrong, or something surprises me.
The point is how to figure out what those details are and how to manage them, so they don’t manage the event. Superior planning is:
- knowing what is a big idea
- what is a detail
- what are logistics
- what stuff is totally decorative, and most importantly, how to tell the difference
With strong planning, the inevitable problems and glitches are manageable and not part of a cascade of issues that could have been addressed earlier. Have one too many people at check-in, be sure the name tags are legible, make the signs to the restrooms big.
We were hosting a classic dinner/silent auction/honor- the -doctor event at the one of nicest hotels in town and our biggest fundraiser of the year. The mom of one of my best and most generous donors pulled me aside, she had a problem. In head -to -toe gold Chanel, no less than $25,000 worth of clothes and jewels, she whispered that the house lights in the banquet room were too bright and she felt they made her makeup look garish, and what could I do?
The real problem was that the house lights were totally off, already. The only lighting was candlelight, stage lighting and the footlights at the base of the walls. I turned down the stage lights by a tick or two, and then went back and told her we had turned the house lights off for her.
Her donation was quite generous.
With good planning, my ability to respond with calm and alacrity to the little things that crop up is improved; even for things that I don’t believe anyone could have reasonably planned for. Knowing that you have planned for as many eventualities as possible is a comforting feeling.
It is easy to know that you need to plan thoroughly and thoughtfully, a little tougher to actually do. If you need some guidance that will allow you grace under pressure, get in touch here or call us on 310 828 6979.
Cindy Lauren is the Principal of Lauren Associates – non profit consulting
As well as advising Executives and Boards on all aspects of nonprofit management, the firm specializes in developing fundraising solutions for all sizes of organizations.