I decided to pick one of old my old articles that appeared on Rediff.com a few years ago. This is really one of my favourites for the simple, fun format in which I wrote it for the younger audience it was meant for…
The piece was actually written via sms prompts that I saved for myself, driving to work a day after an event we were managing. The event, a virutal book launched was itself the culmination of a series of mad things on that project – a commemorative book that took long to complete; leading to the idea of a multimedia presentation, as the virtual unveiling of the book; a presentation that was executed in less than 48 hours, from concept to completion, and with brilliant effect; and then, files that went corrupt and other assorted electronic disasters even as the countdown had begun! And then, it all became smooth again, just a few MINUTES before start! :)
The event itself is another story. For now, hope you enjoy the piece – got an event to promote?
Driving back from a small event that we managed recently, I was reminded again of a few rules that apply irrespective of how long you have been handling events or their size.
So, here’s a call to all event managers. This is my checklist of things to remember. See if it matches yours and let me know!
Think of it as a designer shirt with a loose thread or an open seam. It is important to have an eye for detail. When I say ‘eye’, I actually mean detailing out the entire experience — sound, light, colour, touch, smell. I have seen great concepts destroyed because of tacky detailing.
It could, of course, always be a case of someone lacking aesthetics as much as a case of poor costing. It is just not possible to live up a grand design without the budget to back it up.
So, be meticulous in your planning for you are just ‘as good as yesterday’ or ‘as good as your last event’. It doesn’t matter how many successful events you have under your belt, you will always be remembered for the one that wasn’t.
Events are like a jigsaw puzzle that you need to put together against a stopwatch. Timing is not just important, it’s critical.
Delegate. It is important particularly when the event is large or spread over multiple geographical locations.
Merely doing all this however is not sufficient. It is important to work backwards and get your timelines in place. Prepare checklists and ensure they are actually followed.
Keep things ‘idiot-proof’. Make your checklists simple to follow. Leave no scope for doubt. If followed properly, these checklists usually ensure everything is okay. Some ‘idiots’ however are sent on this planet to get you fired. That was predestined and cannot really be helped.
We cannot do without electronic equipment these days. Otherwise, I would simply advise you to NOT use them.
Several of Murphy’s laws were written specifically keeping electronic equipment in mind. They will ALWAYS go wrong.
Do I have a mantra for it? Yes, it’s dedicated to my favourite deity.
And I say it many times.
Nevertheless, go ahead and test it — as many times as you can, please — thank you, thank you, THANK YOU; oh, just testing!
Life doesn’t operate in ‘test conditions.’ It’s great to strive for perfection, but sometimes things are a little less than perfect. It’s important to take them in your stride. However, ensure the same mistakes are not repeated again.
At an event we organised some time ago, the venue partner did not realise ‘back-projection’, which is quite different from ‘front-projection’, needs a different kind of screen. He organised the latter. A last minute change was not possible.
Seemingly a small issue, but everything was planned around the presentation (see the first point again). Also, our projector showed the image upside down. We went ahead with front-projection finally, with another projector, but not without some tense moments.
But the executive in-charge learnt from that mistake. I don’t think that particular problem will ever occur again.
Organising events day after day is a high-pressure job. Find a reason to smile. While there I was standing there, anxious about the back-projection screen I mentioned earlier, I did tell myself, “Maybe we will get the guests to bend over and watch the film roll upside-down!”
I remember other occasions when we have cracked jokes as we talked to each other on walkie-talkies amidst tense moments, managing large events with thousands of guests.
Did I say five mantras? Here’s the 6th: When in doubt, go back to the basics. ‘B’ always follows ‘A’ and ‘C’ always follows ‘A and B’. We don’t use our common sense often enough. Most things — including managing small or large events — are quite simple. Really!
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