Planning: My Secret Sauce
Updated: Nov 12, 2019
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Have you ever heard of that quote?
Events are no exceptions. There are so many moving parts that you have to get adept at anticipating everything from equipment failure to inclement weather to no-shows.
Oops. I said it. No-shows. The term is enough to send shivers down every event coordinator’s spine. Me included. In my opinion, it is almost impossible to wing a sizeable event. Sure, it’s possible for your nephew’s birthday party but not for a road race or a street fair or a gallery opening. You can’t wing it when there are key people involved: guests of honor, vendors, participants and yes, volunteers.
Planning is the key. Planning is EVERYTHING. That’s my secret sauce.
Ideally, I start planning three to four months for an event I’m working on. In a bind, I can do one to two months, but it’s not my preference. I dislike taking shortcuts for important stuff.
Here are some not-so-secret ingredients to my secret sauce - feel free to add more to taste:
Google Drive is my best friend. I store everything there, including checklists and packing lists. I downloaded the app to my phone so I can easily reference it when I’m on-the-go.
Needless to say, when you have an event, you need to know who’s coming to volunteer. This is not the time to be laid-back and say, “whoever will show up, will show up.” You are leaving it up to chance too much. Print out a roster or save one on your phone with everyone’s contact info. Come game time, you can check off those who showed up and thank them after. Or you can also use the roster to call those who are late or nowhere to be found.
Maps and floor plans
Not every event has one but this will save you some time if you have maps and floorplans ready and in multiple copies, or emailed the day before. You probably won’t have enough time to walk everyone to where they’re supposed to be.
Stock your car or purse or backpack with the essentials of your trade. Some tools I always carry around include scissors, duct tape, stapler with extra staples, lots of pens, lots of highlighters, sunscreen, protein bars (for those long days) and a portable battery bank for my cell phone.
It doesn’t hurt to have a back-up to your back-up. Let’s say you think you will only be needing a flashlight for the wee hours of early morning set-up, it doesn’t hurt to have extra batteries or an extra lamp, just in case. Trust me. Murphy’s Law can be a huge pain when it strikes. I wouldn’t want to be caught unprepared.