Rule 5. Write things down. (You think you can remember everything. Right up until you can’t.)

Every event has some details I need to remember. I started out thinking I would always know have them at hand. But the more events I ran and the busier I got, I was forgetting things. Every event is the sum of its parts.

The Parts

  • Event Date
  • Event Time
  • Local or Remote Event
  • If local, room number
  • Which account was hosting the event? (Of the four WebEx accounts I had)
  • Phone number for teleconference
  • Host Access Code
  • Participant Access Code
  • Closed Captioning link (optional)
  • Is the event being recorded?
  • Are we using a webcam?
  • Are we including remote video?
  • Is there a slide deck? (Do I have it?)
  • Is there any video or audio content? (Did we test it?)
  • Will there be a Question and Answer session?
  • How will remote participants ask questions?
  • Is anyone from senior leadership going to attend?
  • Is this event open to the public or agency-only?

I had to remember everything I needed to run the event successfully and answer questions the organizers would ask as we were starting. I also needed to work around any late changes or additions. Which included saying no to people who weren’t usually told no. (Which is a whole different topic in itself.)

Writing Is Remembering

I always carry a pocket notebook for any note-taking on the fly. But I also kept an event notebook with pages dedicated to the current events I plan. And yes, there was always more than one. Sometimes in the same day I’d have three or four to manage. From running the meeting to starting and handing it off, each event needed time and attention.

I also make good use of Post-It Notes. They were easy to keep phone numbers and codes on. I could jot down which camera angles I had preset to this particular event. I could write notes to people helping me. Those little sticky notes are a vital part of my work.

When I forgot something, the event suffered. If I needed a webcam and didn’t have it we’d have no live video. If we needed closed captioning for a transcript or reasonable accommodation and I didn’t book it, someone who needed it wouldn’t be able to enjoy the event.

Memory Fails

It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking you’ll remember anything. I won’t forget the phone number. I will remember to make the change you asked about as I was leaving my desk? Sure, I’ll take care of that edit to your slides and fix that typo?

But I won’t. I’ve forgotten to fix your typo on every version of the slides we used. I forgot you were going to have someone else speak mid-way through the event. I didn’t remember to book closed captioning despite you requesting it. Were we recording this event? The last thing I have in my notes was wrong. I’m sorry.

Memory is fallible. I write everything down I want to get right. And I want to get it all right. I want to get it right every time. I’ve talked about all the ways you can fail. I don’t want to be the source of failure.