The Art of Juggling: What Event Planners Can Learn From CEOs, Moms and Politicians

As an industry professional, I am often asked about what I view as the critical skill sets of a successful corporate events planner. Not a simple question! Event planners must be right brain and left brain, detail oriented and strategic, forecaster/planners and operational “in the moment” reactors. But without a doubt, all effective event planners must know how to artfully juggle their priorities, deadlines, resources and relationships. That in fact, may be the most critical talent of all for event planners moving forward and upward in their careers.

How do you learn to successfully juggle? Three tips: simplify, delegate, communicate.

Simplify

One of the most successful strategies I’ve seen CEO’s use to “move the needle” as they tend to say, is to break down a challenge or problem solving opportunity to the simplest possible level. Creating a very clear bulls eye and focus for their teams allows every member to come on board, understand the imperative and unite behind a simple, distinct mission. This applies in spades to event planning. By creating models and templates for events, event planners can simplify the entire planning process, more efficiently use their resources and not “reinvent the wheel” for subsequent events.

A recent example in practice, our creation of “festival themed” events for a technology product launch celebration and for a teambuilding event at Great America. Both events incorporated a festival theme incorporating “events within the event” with simultaneous, entertainment and activities kept attendees engaged and enthused. By creating a festival model for our AME team, we were able to apply this in each case covering all the necessary resource acquisition, logistics planning and production requirements for each of these unique events.

Photos by Colson Griffith Photography – www.colsongriffith.com
Photos by Colson Griffith Photography – www.colsongriffith.com

For our technology team, we created a celebration for their engineering and product teams which was themed around the electronic music festival “Tomorrowland”. Food tents were interspersed with participative lawn games and outdoor activities while a DJ spun tunes and trampoline performers entertained.

Photos by Colson Griffith Photography – www.colsongriffith.com
Photos by Colson Griffith Photography – www.colsongriffith.com
Photos by Colson Griffith Photography – www.colsongriffith.com
Photos by Colson Griffith Photography – www.colsongriffith.com
Photos by Colson Griffith Photography – www.colsongriffith.com

For our Silicon Valley tech group, we used the pavilion at Great America to host a family-friendly company teambuilding event. Specific teambuilding activities were balanced with multiple and simultaneous interactive games in a festival atmosphere including photo booths, hula hoops, parachutes and other elements complete with competitions and prizes, adding entertaining pizzazz to the day.

Photos by Colson Griffith Photography – www.colsongriffith.com
Photos by Colson Griffith Photography – www.colsongriffith.com

Delegate

Another key to the ability to successfully juggle, used by many politicians, is delegating. Learning to delegate is essential for all successful professionals. What do you do if you have 3 events all scheduled on December 2-3rd? That very situation happened to us at Anna Marie Events just last year and trust me, it also might happen to you!

As a leader, you simply can’t be everywhere, all the time. Developing bench strength and also some redundant capabilities within your team so that different team members can handle the same responsibilities when required, is critical to juggling multiple, simultaneous events. But you need to invest time and attention to setting your delegation up for success. Taking the time to have regular staff meetings, train your trainers, do event post mortems, document processes and team actions, review vendors according to strict criteria after events all really matter. Delegating without these important interim steps will only leave your team confused and underperforming in the absence of clear direction and understanding.

A great example of delegation in practice was at our recent VIP corporate offsite.  Our team worked across six venues in four cities over the course of a 5-day program.  No one person could be everywhere at every moment, so communication, planning, delegation were critical to our success.

Communicate

Our last tip comes from watching moms in action, the ultimate jugglers in most families. All moms learn early on that communicating is an essential “must have” skill if you need to achieve multiple objectives with limited time and resources. Fortunately, with today’s smart phone technologies, we have more options than ever to make better communication possible.

This became more important than ever in our latest January Startup Health event held in January 2017. Approximately a week before the event happened (long after most logistics and planning activities were locked in), the organizers learned that Vice President Joe Biden would be able to attend the event as a keynote speaker. Suddenly, we needed to be in rapid communication with not only the SUH event organizers who had to shift their entire event format around, but also with the Secret Service. Venue set-up changes, the timing of event activities changed, vendors needed to be apprised, deliveries rescheduled, security measures put in place in various locations, almost every detail had to be re-juggled and communicated across a wide variety of players. Orchestrating all of this required our team to over communicate, over communicate, over communicate via phone, texts, and email to confirm everyone was on the same, new page.

What are tips you use when you need to juggle multiple priorities? Tell us on Facebook!

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