Practice Makes Perfect: Why Event Planning is a Performance Sport

Updated: May 4, 2020

I spent the majority of my time on the Spirit Squad at Bow Memorial and High School team (go Falcons) as a base or in my Junior and Senior years, as the back. For those non-cheerleaders this is basically the person who the flyer fell on or helped keep the bases solid during stunts. Cue almost losing a tooth and a minor concussion. Thinking back on it now that was basically a prelude into my adult life. I was and have always been the support. But as is with many things, our experiences in our childhood influence us as an adult and the professionals we become.

I remember like yesterday how badly I wanted the recognition of the Falcon Award. This was basically the award of being MVP for the season. I never got it, which at the time was a massive disappointment, but fueled me to always try harder and go that extra mile to achieve my dreams. Thanks for all those life lessons, Coach Karen.

In any performance type sport, you practice for months and months all to perform once. No redo’s, no timeouts, only one time and one impression on your audience.

As hard as we practice, the truth is we can never fully prepare for our performance – outside factors always come into play to rain on your parade. Like the time Deborah broke her nose in warm ups, or the time Alyssa tore her ACL during our performance, there was absolutely no way to plan for that ahead of time during our hours and hours of practice. Just like event planners, we are trained to remain calm and do the best with what we have. It is no coincidence that all full time members of EOE were in fact cheerleaders. Even most interns that cross our doorstep. The traits that are learned as performance athletes are undoubtedly translated into our everyday work as event professionals. (thanks for signing us up, Moms!) As event planners, although we don’t necessarily get to “practice” our event, we do spend hours and hours (and hours) preparing.  Any seasoned vet will be the first to tell you,

IT IS ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE TO AVOID EVERY BUMP IN THE ROAD WHEN IT COMES TO EVENT PLANNING.  What we can do, is minimize the giant potholes in the road, and plan to deal with minor cracks instead.

Here are 3 ways we practice to make it perfect:

1. DETAILED ON SITE AGENDA Once we have all the event details determined, comes the birth of the on-site agenda. The on-site agenda lays out every detail of the event and its owner. For example, a sign is purchased for the event. What time will it be set up? Where is it getting set up? Who is setting it up? What time is it breaking down? Does someone need to take a photo of this before guests arrive? One sign sparks all of these questions that can be easily planned for ahead of time for efficient planning and smooth sailing on event day. With our on-site agenda, every team member knows exactly what they should be setting up or checking every minute of pre, during, and post event all at the glance of this document. It’s the event planner version of watch game tape.

2. CONTACT LIST OF IMPORTANT PEOPLE This includes event staff, vendors, speakers, anyone who holds a role in the event where if they are not doing their job, the show will flop. Ensure this is their cell phone number, office phones won’t be of help for emergency situations! For vendors, ensure it is the on-site contact, not just the sales rep you’ve been communicating with, because when the truck driver carrying florals is lost and needs directions, they won’t be much help.

3. DOUBLE, NO, TRIPLE CHECK IT ALL! We can’t stress this point enough. Check everything, in every phase of its “creation”. For example, when creating name cards – check the art file against the original guest list, and after it is sent to print, check the physical cards again to the original guest list. You would be amazed as to how one name tag can mysteriously go missing somewhere throughout this process, and TRUST me, you’d rather figure this out the night before than 1 hour before the corporate lunch. Is this solvable without any suspicion from our client? Yes, of course. But saving the stress and sprint to the local printer for a rush job (thanks again Nashville FedEx) is worth the double check.

People ask us everyday what our actual job is on event day. The simple answer – to make sure the things that get messed up – like forgetting to forward roll in the high school cheerleading championship performance – get brushed under the rug and our clients (and the event attendees) are none the wiser.

Want to see how we stick our landing?  Check out www.eastofellie.com or contact us today to get a preview of how we perform on event day.

This article was written based on the original article by Cindy Kapp.  Check out our Event and Marketing Manager at East of Ellie on LinkedIn.  https://www.linkedin.com/in/cindykapp

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