Why is Event Planning the 6th most stressful career?
As someone who has been in the event industry for over 13 years, I have seen events from every angle and experienced the stress of delivering on expectation. I have learned that a great event is about engaging guests, getting a reaction and moving them through experiences that create emotion. I have encapsulated my thoughts into a witty look at how one gets through the day in what is now considered to be the 5th most stressful career in the world today. Walk with me through my process and the humor of my world, the good the bad and ugly. It’s madness every day… and I LOVE it!
I am sure you can relate!
In the beginning
Wake up, drink coffee, check emails (sometimes even during our morning constitution), shower, beautify, get kids, spouse and dog out the door and finally we are ready. Drive to the office, and pick up your first on line contact form. Respond with basic questions and wait until you get an answer back. Answer phone calls, so many emails its like constant drip that never ever stops. Work on proposals, service agreements, invoices, contracts and then on a good day, or maybe a most days new business comes in the door. You begin communicating, brain storming, proposing ideas on paper until the first draft is complete and you press send. Now you wait anxiously for a response. You email the next day to find out if they’ve received it? Sometimes its a “YES” followed by nothing else. Just “YES” and you sit there staring at the screen bewildered and possibly questioning “do I want to deal with this”? You have no idea if it was good, bad or indifferent. Or maybe they like your ideas and its a good email with content and questions and the ball starts rolling. However, it can also be the dreaded, right turn- they tell you that they are moving in a “different direction”
“Where have I heard that before”?
Once you land the opportunity, the challenges begin and you take off your proposal hat and you put on your producer hat. Ready to go, armed with your team, your tool box and your processes, you are strong, innovative, powerful, collaborative, proud and ready to take on the world – even if the budget is not what you were expecting.
So you begin to find the right pieces or as I like to call it, the right accessories. You begin to build the heart of the event, the showpiece. You find your partners and create your own DNA. The modeling is starting to happen, the ideas, the passion, the excitement of having a blank canvas and so many colors to choose from, its like being six and FAO Swartz or Carrie with 5000 at Manolo.
Now that the walls are up, what color will we paint, what are they going to sit on, eat on, drink at, and dance on? Should the lighting be high, low, colorful, LED, moving or digital. Do the AV guys know what they are doing? You follow their lead in hopes that you will arrive at the same place. What will we feed the guests, vegan, gluten free, organic, vegetarian, meat, fish or chicken? Do we have a standard bar or premium bar? What about the cocktails, branded, shmanded or wildly sexy drinks with custom names? So you align yourself with other event architects who are in the know and you fly by the seat of your pants holding on for dear life. Your magic carpet is about to take off.
From early morning you walk the gauntlet, like a gymnast you twist and turn to ft into the many contorted roles you need to play in one day. Running, walking. bending, reaching, pacing, waiting, coffee, more coffee, “where is my cell phone” texting, walkies, all going off at once. Deliveries keep on coming until the space is so full it is about to burst. People are yelling your name over and over and over again until your hearing goes or you think you are hearing things.. you are sweating, face it you are sweating and maybe a little flushed, the caffeine probably. You go to the bathroom and put yourself under the dryer for relief. Like a member of the special forces, you pop a Tylenol, continue to direct traffic, put out fires and mend any broken pieces before the big moment. Eventually the crew disappears. Drained, nervous, excited and caffeine inspired you change into your black uniform and get ready to welcome the your client. You stand at attention until the white glove treatment is complete and your smile is glued in place. They arrive, they look around and they smile “hopefully” and finally you exhale. Now… where is that red wine?
As you look around the venue, you lift your collar in pride and say to yourself, Thank god, the gods of events were looking down on me. Job well done, hunt for the red wine,
Stay tuned for part two; the after effects.
Janice Cardinale is an Idea Hunter and editor at large for the Canadian Special Event Magazine.