Why Expecting the Unexpected Saves Your Event (& Your Hair)

event organiser For planning-obsessives like myself, when putting on an event for a client, nothing makes me happier than working through a plan of action and ticking each item off as it gets sorted. But no matter how detailed the plan (and believe me, if it was an Olympic sport, I’d definitely be a contender), the one thing I can be sure of is that something unexpected will happen that is not on the list.

To take a recent example, I arranged for a client to exhibit at a major food and drink festival. Everything was going swimmingly until it wasn’t. A change of heart by the organisers at the last minute meant our main stand activity was no longer possible and we had to rethink what we were going to do – and quickly. Suffice to say all turned out well in the end, but it did give me a few more grey hairs.

Reflecting on this and the many events I’ve organised over the years, there are a few simple golden rules of event planning I’ve found will help you keep your hair colour intact:

Write it down
List out everything that needs to happen and by when. This will mean priority items get dealt with first and avoids key deadlines being missed.

Get a second view
It’s hard to spot your own mistakes. Ask a colleague to look at copy, signage, visuals and materials before signing off. Read out telephone numbers, email addresses, twitter handles and URLs – these are often the easiest places for mistakes.

Delegate but don’t abdicate
Working as part of a team is one of the pleasures of a successful event, but one person still needs to steer the ship. Be fussy about the detail and insist on regular updates to make sure everything is on track.

Accept something will happen that isn’t in the plan
It may be a minor glitch or a bigger issue as with my recent event, but either way, part of the skill of good event management is accepting that problems will arise. The important thing is to keep flexible and work around them.

Ask for feedback
If you get the opportunity, find out what others involved thought of the event – what worked and what could be improved for the next time. After all, there are no mistakes, only feedback – or so the saying goes!

Image: D.Cheshire