With hundreds of events of all sizes taking place at Shaw Centre every year, Event Manager, Cedric Lechat, is eager to share some of the lessons he’s learned as he has leveraged his own talents in addition to learning from other experts in the industry. Here are a few tips to help ensure the smoothest, most successful event possible.
- Create and respect your timeline
Working backwards from the end of your event to the present, create a detailed timeline with deadlines to incorporate every facet of the event itself as well as activities such as marketing, registration, suppliers, etc. Understand that this is a dynamic list which will require adjustments, but know that it will help you track completed and outstanding tasks and stay on schedule. Working through a timeline will keep stress down and give you time to make adjustments should challenges arise.
- Choose Reliable Partners
The venue and suppliers you choose will be real make-or-break decisions not only for the success of your event but also for your stress level. Find your own comfort zone: a non-traditional venue may offer an unusual experience or you may prefer a trustworthy, safe and easy-to-deal-with venue. Consider not only the basics such as capacity and catering but also A/V and IT services, environmentally-friendly elements, accessibility and more. Don’t forget to ask about any exclusive or preferred suppliers who will know the facility well and likely offer best value. In addition to liaising regularly with your event services manager who can be an invaluable ally, inquire about local ambassadors or event partners like our unique Think Ottawa program in partnership with Ottawa Tourism, which can provide great support in your planning process and save you lots of time.
- Multi-tasking without multi-tasking
In today’s busy world, we’re learning that multi-tasking often does not translate into being productive. With the hundreds or even thousands of decisions involved in planning an event, it’s easy to get lost in the details. Verify your timeline and prioritize your tasks then deal with them one by one just in time or even earlier if possible. One of my personal mantras focuses on being effective versus being efficient (and it’s the latter that’s most needed in the hectic event planning industry).
- Don’t get derailed by last-minute changes
By respecting your timeline you will avoid last-minute changes and the undesired consequences they can cause. Trust your original ideas and keep the new ones for next event. Another good practice is to set expectations up front with each of your vendors, determining a cut-off point for any changes. Being mindful of this when signing contracts is a successful practice (you can adjust the cancellation policy for artists and speakers, as an example).
- Be ready for anything …. and more
Whether it’s a little snafu or a huge calamity, make sure you have a contingency plan for any situation. Have a tactical plan in place for anything that might go wrong…because something will. Make sure you have insurance for your event and find out what emergency preparedness plans your venue has established. While you can’t have a backup plan for every single thing that might possibly go wrong, it’s good to have a process in place to give you room to adapt to situations should they arise.
At Shaw Centre, we’ve regularly observed that being ready to execute a well-orchestrated plan as well as roll with the unexpected will provide many moments where the teamwork between you, your event services manager and the operations team will help ensure that your event is an extraordinary one.