Event Planner Paradox

Through every event planner runs a common thread – we enjoy being needed. Our clients come to us overwhelmed with desires and options, turning to us to comfort them and exert our authority over every minute detail. We give them piece of mind, while micro managing to our heart’s content. We adore their helplessness and naivety because it feeds our desire to be in control and wanted.

Sandbox event planning sketch

Sandbox event planning sketch (Photo credit: edmittance)

Unfortunately, this quality which can make event planners great, can also be our downfall. The larger the event, the more help needed. While we yearn for dependable, self-motivated staff, we secretly revel in the lack of suitable players. We can’t bear to think that someone else would be needed.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a credit thing. I would strongly doubt any event planner is out for the attention. If we were, we’d be planning events centered on ourselves. We just simply don’t know what to do if we’re not needed.

This weekend I came face-to-face with this very conundrum. Injuring my back, I was unable to fulfill my volunteer coordinator duties for a large conference. Three hours before curtain, I scrambled to contact my key volunteers and the event directors, hoping I could clean up my mess. But then, all I could do was sit and wait.

As I was informed later, the intern I had hired at Gangplank to help with events and promotion had stopped by and taken over the volunteers. After the event ended, everyone told me what a blessing she had been and how smoothly everything had ran.

Of course I was happy. I wanted the event to be a roaring success and I was even more proud my intern had been a key player. But in the back of my mind, I could hear a whimper. I wasn’t needed.

Rather than allow myself to entertain this whisper of pity, I pondered on what being a great event planner really means. Sure, we should be able to take control when necessary. That’s what a good event planner would do. But a great event planner sets others up for success. Since I had done my part organizing, contacting and scheduling volunteers, the event directors were able to assign volunteers without having to scramble to figure out who went where. I (hopefully) saved a few valuable minutes, and allowed others to focus on their tasks. And if the event directors hadn’t empowered me, the volunteers may have not been assigned correctly.

Though having my back thrown out has been a pain in the ass (literally and figuratively), I’m glad it happened. Hopefully I’ll be able to step back from more of my events and empower others to take the lead.

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  1. Totally get your feelings on this. And it is awesome that things went so well. You rock! (as we all know)

    With the Twestivals, Heather and I did a a ton of stuff ourselves & relied on family last minute. We got better as they went & had people who jumped in and helped a lot. We really never leveraged them as well as we should have though. I think a lot of the time, they were wishing for more involvement. My bent though is to just get things done. Not as good as coordinating.

    Learning with Ignite Food though because they have so many processes an so much infrastructure. Definitely a different experience.

    I can see how being a truly great event planner requires skills completely different from those needed to just make an event happen. Sounds like you are much, much farther down the track than I am. 🙂