Murphy’s law in practice
Murphy’s Law states that anything that could go wrong will go wrong and sometimes it seems as though that quote was written specifically for Event planners. Planning an event, any event is an exercise in patience, diligence and Zen. Lots and lots of Zen because when one thing goes wrong it can set off another thing which can ruin the whole event.
I’ve never met an event planner who has not encountered a situation where it’s do or die, where everything depends on his or her ability to come up with a solution on the spot to a seemingly impossible situation. It’s just the nature of the beast. However, this is why it pays to have a good team behind you and of course, a solid plan. A back up plan and maybe even a backup for the backup plan.
The devil truly is in the details. The more detailed your plan the more likely you are to have a successful event. However even the best planners understand that having a well laid out plan doesn’t mean that everything will happen the way you intended it. Things can go wrong at any time but the trick is not to panic!
7 Things that can go wrong when planning an event
- Legal Issues:
Have you ever been invited to an event that has been postponed or cancelled due to legal issue? Or had to waste time moving your car into a cramped and impossible parking situation because you are not legally allowed to park where you have parked.
Legal problems occur all the time resulting in cancellation of tenders, loss of money and loss of reputation. Paper work can be a hassle, doing it waiting for it to go through. However all that paper work has to be done before anything else can happen.
You need to get authorization from the government and from your partners before you can even set a date. Firstly you have to set a few possible dates aside just in case your ideal date isn’t available.
The next best thing you can do is get your paper work at least two months before the actual event. That way you have enough time for the authorization to go through. It is not a good idea to start marketing your event before the authorization goes through.
- Venue Issues:
Problems with the location occur all the time. Many event planners have had to deal with problems like finding out that their location does not have sufficient indoor facilities, or does not have proper air conditioning or that the facility has been double booked. Or even more terrifying, there is no Wi-Fi!
This can lead to having to do something like shifting locations or even postponing the event which can create a lot of problems.
To combat this you have to be on the nose. The devil really is in the detail.
Double check the booking before the event. Create a checklist of essentials to check for such as number of outlets in the building, the number of extension cords and adapters that you will need, check the A/C, and even ask about the Wi-Fi if necessary. Don’t just agree when the manager says that the Wi-Fi is good, ask for specifics.
These are little details but they can save you a lot of work in the future.
- Issues with Coordination.
While planning is the key, coordination is the lock. If you have a great plan but absolutely no coordination between the people that are implementing the plan then you have a recipe for disaster. The way to achieve good coordination is by having a good competent, experienced team that has an idea of what needs to happen.
It doesn’t even have to be a big team but each person within the team needs to know and understand the role they have in making the event a success.
- Tech issues
Tech issues in event management are as common as banana farms in Mauritius. There is almost always an issue with the microphone suddenly not working or not being loud enough or with the projector screen.
The best thing you can do as a planner is make sure that you have someone who is competent in AV technology specifically assigned to making sure that the technology works without a hitch and will be able to solve any AV issues.
- Issues with Speakers/Performers
The speakers or performers that you have booked for the event may be delayed by things like traffic or a change in flight plans if the speakers are coming in from abroad. Sometimes speakers or performers can cancel due to illness or even internal disagreements. This can mean a gap in your program which needs to be filled.
Don’t panic! If you don’t have another act to fill in the slot you can always talk to the MC to try and engage the crowd a little more or and A longer Q and A. The truth is most of the time you have speakers that go a little longer than they should. As long as you don’t panic, the audience won’t either.
- Issues with registration
The registration process at event can be incredibly vexing. It can lead to long lines, dissatisfied clients and even possibly a delay in starting the event. This can set a bad tone for the rest of the event and make the audience less receptive to your message.
Having a good registration process also insures that you have enough space at your venue.
- Uncontrolled variable:
The truth is no matter how much you plan, no matter how much you anticipate things can always go wrong.
Written by Neheng Matsoso at Odysseus Public Relations