The stressful job of an event professional

I was asked my GEVME a great event marketing and management platform to contribute to an article about relieving stress before an event. The advice from the experienced planners is very useful in removing pre event  stress from the stressful job of an event professional. Try and relax, picture a good event and try and get a good nights sleep. All solid advice.

However for many #eventprofs the day before is a very stressful time indeed. Unfortunately the lead up to an event can be very hectic and can almost be part of the culture in many event businesses. But as an experienced event professional of over 20 years, I ask, does it really have to be that way?

The stressful job of an event professional

In one commercial organisation where I cut my event teeth the very idea that staff wouldn’t be working until 10pm the night before an event was impossible to imagine. This “work ethic” was in the water. It was crazy. Several staff staying late working away on stuff that, in most cases, could have been done ages ago, or didn’t need done at all. Other staff just staying late to be seen to be staying late. And I know this still goes on.

It isn’t just the commercial world where this environment thrives. Working for an association I was called in to the office the day before a big event I was running (1000 attendees, 100 sessions, 40 stand exhibition and 500 person gala dinner) by a panicky Head of Events. “William I am really worried about tomorrow” “Why?” I asked. “Well, because you don’t seem to be worried AT ALL and all the staff have gone home!”

The reason I wasn’t worried was that everything had been done. The reason all the staff had gone home was because everything had been done. Is this not just good event management?

It’s not an overly stressful job – it’s an overly stressful environment

Unfortunately I know that many of the #eventprofs reading this will work in a stressful environment. It is a stressful job. There are so many things that “could” go wrong on the day, so many in fact that you really can’t imagine them all. We know that it is a stressful job, therefore, the role of the “boss” should be to create as stress free environment as possible.

When I was managing teams I saw it as one of my main roles to make sure that staff arrived on site relaxed and ready to concentrate on what was going to happen. The last thing I would have wanted was the team going to bed late after working in the office until 10pm!

I know that many of the #eventprofs reading this will recognise this stressful environment and may think, “it’s just part of the job”, but it’s not.  I really believe we should all have an environment in which we work that is supportive and managers should do all they can to remove any stress from our jobs.

Want to work in a stress free event organisation? Then ask these six questions

I’ve worked in and completed event consultancy in over twenty different event businesses. I have experienced the pressure cooker environment of some and the much more relaxed environment of others. Here are the six questions that any event professional could ask that will help them in this “stress test” about their work environment:

  1. Would you say the organisation focuses on the quality of their events rather than the number of events?
  2. As an event manager am I empowered to plan and execute my events on the timetable I set?
  3. Does the organisation use technology to remove administrative tasks from the event team?
  4. Has the organisation, or would it be open to, removing “traditional” elements of an event (for example inserting flyers, slipping card into badges, stuffing delegate bags, printing and distributing paper evaluation forms etc)?*
  5. As an event manager will I be supported to attend an external event perhaps once every two months?
  6. Does the organisation view their events as a product or a service?

*My “top four time wasters pre event”

And the answers you want to hear:

  1. Quality above quantity.
  2. Event Managers are empowered.
  3. Tech is used to remove as many tasks as possible using automation where it can.
  4. Yes! Re-evaluate every task. Look at what it adds rather than asking “have we always done this”
  5. Yes! Go to as many events as you can.
  6. A service. And as such we know that more resource has to be dedicated to each event.

I hope this list of six questions is useful for any new event planner or anyone who is looking for a new job and there’s no reason you couldn’t ask all six of a prospective employer!

But the list should also be useful for any event planner. Take a step back and look at your current work environment. If you feel stressed ask these six questions. If you are not seeing many of the “answers you want to hear” then perhaps you can challenge your manager to de-stress the work environment.

Every good organisation and every good event manager should want to create a healthy and supportive environment for event professionals. Life is stressful enough, #eventprofs should avoid a stressful work environment.

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