• Don't panic
• Ask questions
• Be confident
Due to unforeseen circumstances last summer, Erin Bowers of Training Resources found herself as a new employee with an event in her lap that needed to be planned. Erin and her team did an excellent job providing a seamless transfer of duties and taking care of all items for the event.
Afterward, Midwest Meetings® spoke with Erin to see what she learned from the experience and any tips she might have for others that find themselves suddenly in a similar situation.
• Change is inevitable and happens everywhere. People may not be happy with a last-minute change, but they understand it happens. They will give you time to find answers and will help you out if you ask for it. And if they are rude or upset about it, show them you are capable and keep a smile on your face. Know that some people just really don’t like change. Prove to them that you can do it by putting on a great event.
• Your attitude is extremely important! If you show the people you are working with you are confident and ready to take on this event, they will feel more comfortable and the event will go a lot smoother. If you are stressed or frustrated, or rush to give an incorrect answer when you aren’t really sure, you create more work for yourself and change the dynamic of the whole event and group. Stay calm and confident. Smile and be available for people.
• Be flexible. There were also last-minute changes with the hotel and speakers and some technical difficulties. Those things will always come up. If you are prepared and have a back-up plan, you won’t panic and you can just roll with whatever comes up. Remember, the participants of the event don’t know everything that was planned so they won’t always know there was a last-minute change. And if they do know, smile, apologize for the inconvenience, and move on with plan B. The show will go on and it will be okay.
MM: What tips do you have for others that might be in a similar situation?
• First off, don’t panic…know you have the ability to do this.
• Contact the people you are working with to plan the event to introduce yourself. You won’t feel like a new person for very long and will be more comfortable asking questions when you need to.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Confirm answers to questions so you are sure you are giving the correct information. People are willing to wait for an answer, and saying “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you as soon as I can,” is a perfectly acceptable response. Everyone knows you are new and doing the best you can.
• Once you are the main contact for an event, own it! Even if you didn’t do all the planning to prepare for the event, you are the person everyone expects to know the answers and the person they are hearing from. No matter what event it is, if you are the person people hear from or see, it is important you don’t show them your frustrations or confusion. Show them confidence and prove you did your research, made the event yours, and are taking responsibility for making the event great!
MM: What will you take with you from this event to help you plan future events?
• Be organized! It really helped that the person I took over for had a spreadsheet with all the speakers’ information so I just had to confirm with them.
• Save everything – whether in a binder, your computer where others can have access, or on a flash drive. Save emails and other documents for your reference later or to help someone else, if they need to find out information from the work you have done.
• Be confident and personable. Even though I didn’t have all the answers or know everyone, since I came in later in the planning, it was important for me to show confidence to those I was working with so they felt comfortable with me and the event. I tried to make sure I introduced myself to everyone and checked in on them throughout the conference so they knew they could come to me if they needed anything. I think that was one of the most important things I will take with me, because it made for a positive environment and everyone seemed to feel at ease.