by Samantha Hoffer, metroConnections
• Ways to manage when things go wrong
• Utilize your team and resources
As you read in Guide to Less Stress in the Winter 2016 issue of Midwest Meetings® magazine, the career of event coordinator was rated fifth in CareerCast.com’s annual list of top ten most stressful occupations for 2016. It was stated that even the most organized event coordinator may struggle to manage their stress effectively from time to time, but there are specific ways to handle the strain of the job that make it ultimately rewarding, both personally and professionally.
Previously we discussed the ideas to ‘List It’ and ‘Keep Calm and Plan On,’ you can revisit those in Guide to Less Stress - Part 2.
Here are a few more ideas to help lessen your stress.
Planning an event is a team activity. Not only do coordinators rely on their colleagues, they also need to be able to depend on clients, vendors, and any other involved parties. When all goes according to plan, the project is carried out efficiently and effectively; yet, it’s entirely possible that those other people can become a source of stress themselves.
Vendors and clients promptly responding to emails and phone calls can make all the difference to an event coordinator. If messages or emails go unanswered for too long, coordinators may fret; they are forced to keep this item on their mental backburner while they work on other things. Plus, unresponsiveness can create a logjam for the timeline and to-do lists, creating a lot of stress for coordinators and vendors affected by the pause.
Another way vendors and clients can ease the burden on a coordinator is to understand that there are likely other events being planned or executed concurrently, so the attention may not be on them and their event 100 % of the time. Being patient with a coordinator and trusting them to balance all of their work can go a long way in dodging the more stressful aspects of the program; insisting that they spread themselves too thin can lead to a decrease in the quality of their work. For the coordinator, going over timelines and to-do lists with every client through occasional check-in calls can prevent things from becoming disorganized and overwhelming.
When Things DO Go Wrong…
In an ideal world, the timeline and to-do list would be followed to the letter and result in a perfectly executed event. Unfortunately, the real world isn’t as forgiving, and it’s crucial to plan for things to go wrong. Even when they don’t, it’s prudent to have a contingency plan in the event of bad weather, bad traffic, unpredictable clients, unreliable vendors, or other unforeseen incidents.
One such incident is something that many coordinators and planners are likely familiar with: last-minute changes during events. A client may not read their contract, for example, and not fully understand the scope of the work being done. This can pose a problem on the day of the event, when suddenly they’re asking for something that was never agreed upon. It can be immensely stressful, but panicking over these unpleasant surprises will only make things worse; do your best to determine the priority of the new requests and attempt to deliver on everything that is essential to the event. Let a cool and calm demeanor prevail, even if you feel terribly frustrated. Turn to others if you need to – working through a stressful situation as a team will ease the burden on everyone and create a better experience for those involved.
If things do become overwhelming – and it’s likely that it will happen at least once in your career – take a step back and breathe deep. While it may seem like a waste of time when you are scrambling to get things done, studies show that breathing exercises have been proven to reduce anxiety and tension within a matter of moments after you start. It’s vital to give your mind and body time to slow down so you can work with a level head. Communicate any worries you may have to a team member or a supervisor, who at the very least can lend a sympathetic ear. Perhaps they have experienced a similar situation in the past and can help you break down the stressful elements into manageable bite-size pieces.
So You Want to Plan Events
Even though it seems to be steadily climbing the ranks of the most stressful jobs, being an event coordinator is an incredibly fulfilling experience. If you communicate well, are detailed and organized, enjoy working with others, think logistically, and are willing to have a flexible schedule, you will thrive in this position. Though people outside the industry may look at the job title and assume it’s all fun and games, you know it’s number five on the stressful jobs list for a reason. However, executing a successful event is extremely rewarding, and all the planning, effort, and stress are most certainly worth it – and even more so if you arm yourself with these stress-busting techniques.
Read our ‘Quick stress-relieving activities that fit even the busiest planner’s schedule’ in Midwest Meetings Winter 2016 publication.
Samantha Hoffer began as a coordinator in the Event Services division at metroConnections in March of 2012. Specializing in teambuilding and event décor, Samantha is part of the event process from start to finish. In her current role as Senior Program Manager, she focuses on researching ideas for proposals, formulating contracts, handling budgets and financials, coordinating all logistics, and managing on-site – all while ensuring client’s expectations are exceeded. Samantha is dedicated to bringing the client’s vision to life, creating a fun and seamless event experience.