Mastering the Juggle: Tips for Special Event Planners

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This week, over 600 wedding and special event planners are gathered together in Zacatecas, Mexico at the Congreso LatinoAmericano De Bodas y Eventos Especiales for a few days of inspiration, education, networking, and to experience some of Mexico and Latin America’s most beautiful event venues. Last minute personal reasons prevented me from attending the conference, so I wanted to share a few tips here for event planners on mastering the juggle.

Event planners, you have no choice – you must learn to juggle! The task of coordinating many moving parts – catering, decor, entertainment, transportation, the list goes on – can be overwhelming. How can you keep all these balls in the air with more grace and ease and maintain some level of balance and sanity?!

Step One: Adopt the Juggler’s Mindset. The strategies are simple, but not easy. Like physical juggling, they require focus, practice, perseverance and patience to execute.

The ball is the basic building block of learning to juggle, so let’s apply my B.A.L.L. Formula for more balance, productivity, and fulfillment in work and life:

B – Break it Down

Create a step by step action plan to achieve your goal. “Plan the Event” is too broad and overwhelming! Break it down. Divide tasks into categories like catering, decor, entertainment, transportation, photography, etc. Then break them down further into tasks…obtain sample menus, present to client, schedule tasting, etc.

Focus on one action step at a time, prioritizing important tasks first. Which is more important to the success of the event – the menu and music or the way the napkins are folded? Details are important, but don’t get caught up in little “busy” details first that prevent you from creating and executing an amazing and engaging experience.

We learn to juggle by adding in one ball at a time. And sometimes we can’t juggle all 10 balls, so prioritize and focus on the ones that can’t be dropped!

A – Ask for Help

Connect with others. Build a support team and nurture relationships. You can’t do it all alone. Build trusted relationships with vendor partners, venues, etc. You will generate new and creative ideas through collaboration.  Innovation happens in an environment of trust & respect where all feel comfortable contributing.

Congreso Challenge – While you are in Zacatecas, connect with 10 new colleagues. When you return home, send each new connection a personal note about a shared moment at the conference. Nurture those relationships.

Build your personal support team by communicating your vision. Understand how each member of the team learns, works and communicates best. Then assign specific tasks that utilize each team member’s unique strengths.

When you get stuck, seek advice from a mentor or advisor. Someone else in this business has experienced similar challenges. Learn from their experience.

L – Learn from the Drops

Be bold! Take a risk. Mistakes are stepping stones to success and can lead to creative solutions you may never have considered. You can’t learn to juggle without throwing the ball.

Be observant throughout the planning process and during the event. Note any hiccups and brainstorm ideas to prevent similar situations at future events. Don’t re-hire a band that arrived late…or perhaps give them an earlier arrival time…or designate someone to pick them up and transport them on time. There is more than one solution. But don’t expect them to show up on time at the next event without modification to the process.

Build a library of typical situations for future reference – what worked, what didn’t, and why? Each event is a learning experience and should be viewed as a teaching tool for the next project.

L – Let it Go

Delegate to empower others and multiply your efforts. You don’t have to do it all. Juggling is easier with more hands!

Find a trusted colleague to take over social media marketing, web design, etc. You may have to give up some control to grow.

Move on. Done is better than perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist. Perfectionism is really about fear – fear of making a mistake or disappointing others. Let it go. Guests probably won’t remember whether the up-lighting was blue or pink, but they will remember how the event made them feel and the people they interacted with. Focus on the big picture.

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Have an amazing time in Zacatecas and go forth and juggle, my friends! Hope to see you at the next fabulous event.

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