Eight Tips on Organizing a Great Event
7. Stay Cool
Whether you give every speech or none at all, you set the tone for the gathering. Like I said, something will go wrong (and if it is only one thing, you are doing quite well). How you respond can make or break the meeting. If you freak out, so will others. Instead, keep a cool head, empathize and calmly think through your options. Then communicate, rely on your contacts and contingency plans, and solve the problem.
Fortunately, nothing disastrous happened at this meeting last week but there was a crazy situation at my old job. The shipping company switched and sent the wrong exhibits when we had two trade shows one after the other, so our materials arrived at the LAST moment. The venue had a rule that you had to be set up by 11:00 a.m. or you sat in an empty space the rest of the day. To make matters worse, my boss was driving up. We had 20 minutes to set up a 20-foot booth (normally a two-hour process). I enlisted the help of the other folks from my company, whipped out some duct tape and started cracking jokes (works a lot better than crying and giving up). When my boss arrived, he probably noticed a few missing pieces or odd bubbles in the graphics but never said a word about it. And I wasn't the least bit flustered (at least on the surface!).
8. Follow Up
Once your event is over, there is sure to be a need for specific follow-up activities such as distributing the agreed-upon action items and timelines, and scheduling subsequent meetings. In terms of the event planning function, be sure to collect all your final invoices and update your budget while everything is fresh in your mind. Keep your checklists and make notes on what you would improve upon—this is your starting point for the next event. You could also send out a brief survey to gauge what attendees thought and get their suggestions (as well as to benchmark your performance). It's a nice touch to send out photos to remind folks of their experience and how much they enjoyed the event. We usually feature the Affinity Express strategy meeting in our quarterly newsletter. Most importantly, you should send out thank you notes to all your contacts and, if they went above and beyond, offer to provide references to other meeting planners.