Planning An Event? Here’s How To Keep Calm & Carry On
Working in events is stressful. Rated 5th on the most stressful jobs of 2016, event planners share the top 10 with military personnel, airline pilots and firefighters.
It really does take a very unique person to be an event planner, because we deal in emotion and it is our job to be the calming force in the room. Irrespective of the scope or scale of an event, working with vendors, sponsors, clients, participants, deadlines, and expectations, all whilst staying – and looking – calm and collected is stressful.
Taking the time to step away for a few minutes while working to get outside of the event bubble is not only important, it is imperative because event work often means long hours, abnormal eating patterns and high stress. While most of us who love this type of work thrive on the pressure, we need to find ways to deal with the hardiness of what have to deal with – to disconnect for a bit to make it through without melting down.
I’ve developed a few ways to de-stress whilst working on an event that always help me:
If I need to be alone…
My go to option is to step away from the event (which often means staying on site, but getting out of sight away from the action), plug in my headphones and play some calming music loudly enough to block out any noise. It only takes me a song or two to allow my brain to just stop for a few minutes and de-fragment. The ability to not think at all allows me to calm down and continue with the million things required in the hours ahead.
If I’m in a situation where I can’t step away for a bit…
I grab my phone and check out my favourite news app and read about the happenings going on in the world – nothing puts it all into perspective like reading news from around the world – somehow the marquee build being behind me schedule or the missing key note speaker all seems a little bit more manageable.
If I’m with a group and it appears that all of us are a bit stressed out…
I will often call for a group timeout. Everyone must join and just relax together, the main rule? Talk about anything but the event!
When all else fails, I call my mum…
She is my favourite person on earth and hearing her voice generally calms me down and makes everything better. The extra added bonus is that just like all mums, she always has a handy bit of advice you had never considered she would know!
Now I know the above tips may not work for everyone or in all situations, so here are some further less personal tips that you might find useful:
Take a break for 10-20 minutes to meditate
Controlling your breathing, focusing your energy and taking a few minutes for yourself can bring your blood pressure down and centre you – a couple of herbal Kalms anti-anxiety pills help make this exercise that little bit more effective!
Take a mini break and do what you do in real life to reduce the stress
If it is working out, reading or listening to music take the time and chill out for when you get the opportunity even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Always try to sit down and eat a real meal — without communication equipment
Of course, sometimes whilst working an event there literally just isn’t time to sit and eat, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare your meals in the same way you have prepared for the unthinkable number of problems that could occur during your event. Carry a protein bar and/or a piece of fruit (bananas work best as they are already pre-packaged) with you or grab a full meal from catering if you can’t get off site.
When you do decide to eat, don’t answer the phone every time it beeps with a new text or email. Have a radio on? Ask someone to answer in your absence and turn it off for a bit. Remember to hydrate as well. Stopping and fuelling your body can do wonders!
Take a few minutes and talk with event attendees
Making that personal connection with a participant makes the craziness of the event work all worth it and give you valuable insights into what has worked very well or what didn’t and can be improved next time.
Watch a funny video online, find a co-worker who cracks you up, or do something silly. Laughter really is the best medicine.
Remembering to take care of yourself and finding the time to de-stress can certainly be a challenge when you’re an event planner. Making time no matter how little allows your mind, body and soul to recharge.
Not only will you benefit from the ability to perform your role at the highest level of your expertness, more importantly your teams wellbeing will further increase the chances of your event’s success; as the old adage goes – you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.