The big day has arrived. You wake up earlier than usual and before heading over to the event venue, you check your email for possible planning updates. Everything seems fine.
No last-minute changes, delays, or cancelations. The speakers arrived yesterday, the number of attendees who confirmed their attendance is more than satisfactory, and all the logistic details are 100% confirmed and settled. You drink your coffee and walk out the door, confident about the imminent success of your event. Yet, when the guests start to arrive, the first problems appear. You realize that the system failed to register all the attendees and there are no badges for most of them, some of the audiovisual equipment is missing, and the Wi-Fi connection doesn’t work.
What should you do? Stop for a second, take a few deep breaths, and try to survive the event as graciously as possible. Why? Put yourself in your attendees’ shoes. You pay to attend an event; you come to enjoy a great environment, meet new people, and learn cool stuff. Instead, you arrive for registration and see the event manager cursing or running all over the place with a panicked look and the event staff throwing clueless looks at each other.
How do you think this would influence your overall experience? Panicked and stressed event managers and staff may leave your attendees with a negative impression of your event. So no matter what goes wrong during your event, always keep in mind the following rules.
Rule #1. Hide your panic
Here’s the harsh truth: while you know that your event may collapse, your attendees shouldn’t notice. After all, being a professional doesn’t mean foreseeing and eliminating every potential problem. Being a professional means accepting the fact that you don’t have absolute control over how things will unfold, yet knowing that you’ll have the ability to deal with possible challenges. So remember that every time something “catastrophic” will happen. Keep your despair out of your public’s eye and be quick to solve the problems.
Rule #2. Don’t forget to smile
Sometimes when you’re in the middle of juggling several issues (cancelations, delays, bad event services, technical problems, etc.), attendees will approach you with trivial questions. Please, don’t be rude. Always put a smile on your face, listen to what they have to say, and be polite while redirecting them to a team member who can assist them.
Rule #3. Never lose your temper
What’s the worst thing that can happen? Your event will fall to pieces? No. The worst thing that could happen during an event is for the attendees to see you lose your temper with a staff member or even another guest. Although it may get on your nerves or you may be panicking on the inside, always be polite and never express violence or aggression!
Rule #4. Display easiness
You may think that hosting an event means to dissimulate and hide your real feelings. True. Attendees don’t want to see you struggling while running the event. It’s your job to give the impression that everything is smooth and easy. Don’t worry; this will come with experience. But until then, try not to lose your poker face in front of your guests.
Rule #5. Assign people to help attendees navigate through the event
If you want to have space and time for solving issues that will (most certainly) appear during the event, instruct a few members of the staff to help the attendees. This way you’ll be able to focus on resolving the problems at hand.
Call to action
Remember the last time you panicked or lost your temper during an event? What was the reason? How did you solve the problem that provoked you to react this way? What did you have to lose?
Analyze your previous behaviors and identify the triggers that made you panic or be rude to others. Then, try to understand how you can avoid repeating this pattern going forward. Always be aware of the image you project and the behavior you display with other people. And never forget that the success of your events greatly depends on the human factor and the work environment you manage to instill.