Does your event need a lighter touch?
Kelvin Newman, founder of Rough Agenda and the BrightonSEO conference, sits back and learns to delegate tasks
If you’re a founder of an events company, or involved in a conference launch, then you’re used to mucking in and getting stuff done.
A final batch of badges need printing at midnight the day before the event: on it. Need some photos uploaded on Instagram: leave it with me. Last minute AV issue: time to get busy.
However, as your event grows, so does your team. There are now far more people involved in making the event run smoothly. If you’re doing it right it’s like a swan above the water, effortless, but nobody sees the craziness going on below the waterline.
The excitement of that chaos is part of what makes the business events industry such an interesting sector in which to work. Yes, it’s stressful, but a lot of jobs don’t give you the adrenaline and the same feeling of pride as well as a well-run event. I’ve got to admit it’s pretty addictive.
But if you’ve been involved in the early days of events it’s sometimes hard to let go of things. Often, you’ve got absolute professionals in your team ready to pick things up but it’s not easy to let things go.
I’ve struggled with this over the years. Keeping hold of little things that I’ve never quite had the wherewithal to hand over. Jobs that nobody else knows how to do, without which the event wouldn’t work.
I’m not the right person to do the job. I’m a generalist, not a specialist. The specialist can do a better job more quickly than me.
And all those little things place a huge demand on your mental energy, sapping you when you need to be 100% on the ball. If you’re worrying about someone’s messed up dietary requirements, then you are going to miss something. You won’t have that serendipitous conversation with a future headline sponsor. You won’t spot the emerging theme in a keynote that’s going to be a whole conference track next year-round.
It’s not about overloading your team and leaving yourself with no work to do. Reality is they would prefer you to get out of the way. They’re afraid to ask.
It’s about sharing the load. Taking a lighter touch. Knowing the less frantic you are during the event the more likely you are to spot something that’s going to impact your event for years to come. It’s not just about making the next half hour better.