I’ve spent the last two years running WebEx events for the US Department of Labor. I learned in a trial by fire with large, national events being normal. I worked with the Secretary of Labor, the various Deputy Secretaries and I assisted with software rollouts, policy changes and training initiatives.
I ran meetings for small groups of high-level officials and large sessions with hundreds of members of the public attending from all across the US. I facilitated some international VOIP calls putting people in as many as four countries together virtually.
In that time, I’ve learned some rules of event planning. They served me well and in my time running events, I can count on one hand the number of failed events I had. And in all of those situations, one or many of the things we planned for went wrong.
There are some issues you can recover from and others there is no coming back from. Sometimes an issue can be as unforeseen but fairly minor as a speaker putting the clicker to advance the slides in a pocket which caused the slides to jump sporadically around in front of a packed Auditorium.
There are other, bigger issues such as a phone line dropping mid-presentation or a computer rebooting due to a crash or software installation. The world of event planning and tech support mean never assuming you have everything under control.
I have 10 Rules for Event Planning Success
- Expect the unexpected. (And have a backup plan.)
- Test. Retest. Re-retest everything.
- Be ready to fail. (You will. It is inevitable.)
- Know your trump cards (who can push meeting or take scheduled space.)
- Write things down. (You think you can remember everything. Right up until you can’t.)
- Organize yourself. (Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.)
- Be flexible. (Things will change. Usually on short notice.)
- Don’t be afraid to be wrong. (You will be wrong. You will make mistakes.)
- Be honest. Never lie. (The truth will come out. Don’t let it contradict you.)
- The microphone is always hot. The phone line is always open. (Be careful what you say. Private is public.)