The Tortured Event Planners Department

Remember, you bring more to the table than well-organized logistics. Events are a platform that can further goals and advance the industry you serve.

Author: Beth Surmont       

A planner’s work is so varied, there is no shortage of song titles that strike a chord with their role.

beth surmont

Beth Surmont, CMP-Fellow, FASAE, CAE

Event planning is like a really good love song. There are nights with very little sleep, extreme highs and frustrating lows, and moments of awe. It leaves you in pain but somehow still satisfied at the same time. Sometimes there are tears.

As I’m writing this, Taylor Swift’s latest album just dropped and it got me thinking that we could use some anthems of our own. Here is how I would approach writing new lyrics for some oldie goldies.

Under Pressure

A glam rock banger about how to stay on budget in the era of rising costs. It shares the story of the vendor relationship and how you can work together to make better decisions. Sometimes just asking the question about how to hit a number can lead to the sharing of creative solutions. I also love the break with the detail about developing best / most likely / and worst-case scenarios to keep budget goals realistic without panic.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

An alternative rock song about crisis management. It’s time to take another look at your crisis plan — it should be updated every year. We live in a time of uncertainty and protests, weather events, and communication challenges are prevalent in our day-to-day planning. A strong crisis plan is more important than ever, and it should include contingency plans, go/no-go decision points, contact information, and a communications tree.

I Wanna Be Sedated (24 Hours to Go)

A punk rock pre-event jam that pumps up the ramp-up to on-site registration opening. Cross off your to-do list items as early as you can, because the best way to start iterating on your event is to observe how your attendees arrive. Are they excited, confused, frustrated? You’ll get a quick list of event improvements just by watching your audience behavior.

Signs (Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign)

An early ’70s throwback tune about removing friction from the attendee experience. Quell questions and anxiety with well-placed signs — including human ones. It also adds a bonus welcoming touch to have a smiling face directing people, which elevates the emotional experience.

Opposites Attract

A dance pop hit about creating intentional networking for your audience. There’s a great hook about how leaving attendees to network on their own is a wasted opportunity and you level up the ROI by facilitating valuable connections through meetups, conversational sessions, and cohort groups.

With or Without You

A soft rock ballad about the shuttle schedule.

We Built This City

A synth rock ’80s-style song about the power event planners have to make local impact. When we bring so many passionate people into a location, we have real opportunity to give the city a bump. Create a list of local women- and minority-owned businesses, or host pop-up shops in your venue. The attendees get an authentic souvenir, and the local economy gets a boost. Or consider presenting a challenge to raise money for an issue that is related to your organizational values or go into the community to provide relevant workshops and skills-building.

We Are Family

A disco bop about all of the partners coming together to make a great event. From the sales rep to the banquet captain to the stage manager, all events require a strong team. It is more important than ever to make and keep these relationships strong.

Closer to Fine

A folk rock anthem about post-event recovery. Event planners thrive under pressure but it’s not sustainable long term. Give yourself the grace and space for deep rest, both mentally and physically after the event.

This Ain’t My First Rodeo

A country-western tune that encourages planners to embrace their strength and smart strategic thinking. Claim your seat at the table by elevating how your work directly impacts the strategic initiatives of your organization and your audience.

Beth Surmont, CMP-Fellow, FASAE, CAE, is vice president of event strategy and design for marketing, strategy, and experience agency 360 Live Media.

Become a Member

Get premium access to provocative executive-level education, face-to-face networking and business intelligence.