‘Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.’
– Abraham Lincoln.
We don’t know quite how many of you out there are avid lumberjacks, but fortunately, Abraham Lincoln’s rationale can be applied to many situations. One such area is event organisation. When planning an event, the sharpest tool in your shed should always be your communication. A great plan needs excellent communication to push it through to completion. Luckily, we’ve got some tips on-hand to ensure that your communication is as flawless as Beyoncé’s outfit on Superbowl night.
Be clear about your specifications
It’s important to find out whether your vendors are capable of the tasks you wish to carry out. Vendors are external companies that you rely on to undertake key parts of events management. They can range in skills from catering to event booking systems. A great working relationship between your and your vendors requires effective communication.You don't want any misunderstandings when defining your specifications for an event.
Always have a clear, written list of the important factors- the things you cannot do without. Need the funds from your ticket sales quickly? Then look for an event booking system that offers this as standard (we happen to be one of these). It pays dividends to know what a vendor can offer you. Ensure you get their information in written format too.
Divide costs into sections
Your budget will be both your best friend and your worst enemy. It must be realistic and you must stick to it. Try dividing your costs into categories. This streamlines information, making it easier to digest. The information and costs are more specific, giving personnel a better chance of catching any fluctuations before they spiral out of control. Do not overwhelm people with statistics that they do not need to know. Every piece of information should be relevant to the job that an individual is carrying out.
You should always aim to give yourself a small safety net. These are funds that you don’t want to use but have spare if need be. Prevention is always better than cure but sometimes, things happen outwith our control.
Set up a point of contact
Any company that values customer service will furnish you with a point of contact. This person will be your link to the company. It’s best to have one specific person as it negates confusion from multiple streams of communication.
Get to know your contact. Establish their preferred method of communication. Some of us love skype, some prefer to be contacted via email or on the telephone. Knowing these little bits of information ensures your message reaches your contact as quickly as possible with as little aggravation.
Establish a flow of communication in your own event’s team. Everyone should know what they are responsible for and who they report to.
Build your deadlines around realistic ideas right from the very beginning. Talk to your staff and your vendors. Find out exactly what is realistic and what will simply not work. It may mean that some aspects have to be cut, however, it will also mean that the finished product is likely to be delivered on time and to a standard you expect.
Set out a clear plan of action. Write it down or enter it into an Excel document then circulate it. If need be, it can be amended. Always make sure to track your progress using these deadlines. Spotting a problem at a first deadline can prevent it from becoming a travesty on the night. If you want to make communication even tighter, set up check-in times with your own team and/or vendors. These are quick, updates on the progress that let you know exactly where you stand.
Quick round up
- Make written copies of your specifications for your event
- Divide your budget costs into section
- Get to know your point of contact
- Talk to staff and vendors to ensure deadline are realistic
- Set up an Excel planning document and circulate it to your team
Communication is key in creating outstanding events. Successful organisations will provide clear and concise information ensuring you always know what to expect. Never be afraid to query vague information. A plan is important but what good is it if no one understands it? They say the biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. Don’t be left wondering, ensure miscommunication never upstages your special event.