whispering a secret
Photo by Personal Creations

I was recently told that event coordinators have the fifth most stressful job in the country, right behind police officers, firefighters, and military personnel. I believe it! Why? In my 20+ years of event management, I’ve learned that it comes down to serving the massive expectations and minding the minute details that go into events.

There is one nerve-wracking and high-risk time that comes with every event, and that is the event itself. All the planning, time, and event resources come together in that moment to (hopefully) produce a successful event. If it doesn’t, the event manager’s name is on the line.

If I had a magic wand that could improve just one thing for event managers, it would be communication. So many details are lost in the communication—or lack of—between Event Managers and their clients, event suppliers, and venues. Good communication is vital to the unity of everyone involved with the event. Poor communication can lead not only to a divided team of event suppliers but can also create tremendous liability concerns and expenses.

As the event manager, the leader that everything and everyone points to, strong and effective communication must be learned and practiced through the whole event process.

So what are a few do’s and don’ts of communication? How do we reach a level of communication that leads to the best event results while reducing stress, building stronger relationships with clients and vendors, and staying under the event budget?

First, what not to do:

  1. Never, ever assume anything. Take the time and effort to work through every event detail, every event goal, and every event concern. In other words, don’t get lazy or leave it to someone else to figure out. This applies to dealing with event clients, event suppliers, and event venues.
  2. Don’t just email and text. Yes, these are good forms of communication, but there should always be one-on-one time over the phone or in person at some point during the process of coordinating the event. Email and texting leave so much to be desired when it comes to truly having a relationship with your event client, suppliers, and venues.
  3. Don’t do all the talking! In other words, ask questions of everyone involved and then listen. If you are not listening then you are doing all the talking. Allow your team of suppliers to express their expertise and experience to the event purpose and goals.
  4. Don’t forget to be grateful and thankful for what the event suppliers bring to the event. In other words, stay humble! Communicate your gratitude to your event suppliers. They do a lot of heavy lifting. If you stay humble and thankful, they are more likely to provide great service for your event in the present and future.

Now, what to do:

  1. Practice makes perfect. In other words, meet and plan with your suppliers as much as possible.
  2. Clarify the event purpose. Make sure, at the outset, that the event vision and purpose is clear and understood by the event suppliers. If there is any confusion in the beginning, it will lead to big surprises and errors later.
  3. Put it in writing. After planning meetings and conversations, put everything in writing, share with all involved, and ask if anything was missed or not understood.
  4. Develop trust in all your relationships as this is the foundation to strong communication and event success.
  5. Confirm commitment. Make sure the event suppliers and event clients are all committed to the event, its purpose, and working together.
  6. Ask for feedback. Allow opinions of all to be shared, and do not shy away from potential conflict. Some of the best ideas and team unity result out of conflict.
  7. Stay accountable to the purpose and event goals. Once everything is put in place and the plan is established, hold all accountable to their contributions in a timely manner. Yes, this also includes the event manager!

The above do’s and don’ts are just a few helpful practices in the event communication process that will help reach unity with suppliers, minimize expensive mistakes and surprise, limit liability concern, and ensure overall event success.