Last Updated on October 7, 2021
In the events industry, time is of the essence.
As an event planner, it’s fairly clear you need to master managing your own schedule. With all the tasks, challenges, and logistical issues you juggle on a daily basis, failing to keep organized ultimately means failing at your profession. Time management is a vital skill for any event planner – knowing how much time to allot to each project and how to schedule related tasks is paramount.
Time management is about understanding your own capabilities, and leveraging those to great effect. It’s about setting goals, laying out tasks, and ultimately accomplishing the things on your list in a predetermined order and length of time. Now, take the skills required to manage your daily work routine, apply the same approach when you’re managing an event.
Rule: effective time management is all about prioritizing and scheduling.
The difference from your daily routine, of course, is at the event stage you’re not just working by yourself. You’re managing entire teams of volunteers and partners; you’re shuffling keynotes, vendors and merchants, and laying out the flow of the entire venue and everyone involved. Without a well-timed schedule, it’ll be next to impossible to coordinate volunteers, speakers, attendees, etc. and execute your plan without a hitch.
Remember: no one will know where they’re supposed to be and when unless you tell them. Without clear itineraries, things will quickly descend into chaos.
When it comes to working out proper timing for an event, the trick lies in balancing organization and flexibility. You need to have a schedule that makes it absolutely clear where everybody needs to be, but you also need to leave a bit of wiggle room for unexpected circumstances. A good program will allow for a presentation running late or for technical problems during setup, for example.
Trick: schedule 10 minute buffer slots throughout your schedule. Lag time can be absorbed if an earlier time slot runs longer than anticipated.
(See our previous post for additional scheduling or “mapping” tips.)
Lets discuss setup. One of the most common mistakes in event planning according to Strike Productions Managing Director Leah McCrae – lies in not allowing volunteers enough time to get things ready. According to McCrae, this generally happens if event planners leave approvals and rehearsals to the last minute. Last minute setup and inadequate rehearsal time leave little room for changes, compromising results and risking leaving clients dissatisfied. This tarnishes the reputation of the event planner, but more importantly, the brands they represent.
“You can have the best caterers, the most wonderful venue, amazing artists and magnificent décor, but unless a practical time plan is followed, the result won’t meet the expectations of the client,” Leah explains. “Once an event goes live and the crew is running the show according to the rehearsed show schedule, a professional team can cope with the guest speakers running overtime and the caterers learn how to monitor the food being brought out according to the timing of the show. But if not enough time is given to setup and rehearsals, this is where it all starts getting messy.”
Often, she continues, the problem lies with the clients, who might display a lack of understanding as to what goes into running an event. “Clients must enquire about how much time the technical company will need to load in and set up, as this is this critical. This includes the health and safety aspect as well as ensuring that there is enough time to run full rehearsals and technical cues. Clients cut back on venue set up time in order to cut back on budget and it proves to be disastrous in most cases”.
Rule: involve your clients in the planning process, and help them to understand time requirements and constraints.
“Clients forget that event professionals plan these events for weeks and months in advance – they eat, sleep and live these events. They brainstorm and present the concept, they write up production schedules that describe how the show will run; they have days of rehearsals with artists and directors. Clients need to realize that keys players need to walk through an event a few times.”
As an event management professional, you already know full well that time is of the essence. Without proper time management skills, you’re pretty much guaranteed to run into trouble. As I’ve shown here, however, managing your own time simply isn’t enough: the best event planners realize just how important timing is to a successful event, and as such; they involve clients, volunteers, and speakers, helping everyone both understand and keep to the clock.
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When planning an event, regardless of size or industry, it is safe to assume that you have visions of greatness dancing through your head. You expect everything to go as planned.
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