10 Tips for Planning a Low Stress Event

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OPP: You are already busy, and you’ve been asked to organize/host an event for clients/customers.

Several months ago, I was invited to an event hosted by Greenville Office Supply. They were having a lunch and learn opportunity at their office/warehouse and invited their customers to come by and enjoy a free lunch, tour, and other fun.

I had developed a relationship with this company while I was filling a part-time office administration position for a full service marketing firm. I was impressed with how they treated us and the event only added to that positive impression.

What also appealed to me was the relative simplicity of the event, which (I hope!) made it easier on their employees to host, yet made the guests feel well cared for. So here are some tips for hosting an engaging event without getting overwhelmed!

  1. Keep it simple. GOS offered a straightforward lunch and tour of the facilities in their invitations, and from what I understand, they do similar events throughout the year, which means tried and tested elements can be carried over. Events don’t have to be elaborate or stress-producing to be meaningful.
  2. Set up wisely. The event took place in the large lobby area as well as a conference room. Having served as a receptionist myself, it makes sense to me that the check-in area was the reception desk, allowing the receptionist to do double duty during the event and not have to be away from the phones.
  3. Keep presentations short. If you are going to speak during a networking or social event keep your thoughts concise. A couple of GOS staff spoke but they did not go on and on. Instead, they had a scrolling slide presentation quietly running in the conference room where most of us ate.  That was a reasonable amount of promotion.
  4. Share the load. A number of employees helped with the event, from checking people in, to giving tours, to pouring iced tea. Each person had their job to do, keeping any one person from being overloaded.  Many hands make light work.
  5. Keep people guessing. I was surprised and delighted at the lunch spread. I expected a boxed lunch and instead we got a Thanksgiving meal! We also each received a tote bag filled with a collection of usable supplies.  Lunch was catered, making it easier on the staff. The bags were the type that could be used for a variety of events or customer service initiatives. It would not surprise me if they just keep a supply of these filled bags on hand and fill them during routine/quieter times.
  6. Streamline. GOS was very respectful that this was a lunchtime commitment for most guests. It was kept to an hour, benefiting both the guests and the employees involved in running it.
  7. Keep things moving. While we never felt rushed, we did keep moving along between the tours, getting lunch, and then listening to brief presentations and having the door prize drawings. (I won one!)
  8. Serve and smile. All involved seemed happy to help and we were waited on, making us feel special. Involve some of your quieter employees in the serving and clean up aspect to help ease everyone’s load while involving your team.
  9. Keep improving. I imagine that the GOS staff debriefs in some ways after their events, so that they can make improvements for the future.
  10. Stop and celebrate. At the end of the event, give yourself and your team a pat on the back for a job well done. Take a short break before debriefing (especially if everyone is tired) but make sure to stop and think about it within a week while the event is still fresh.

I don’t know how stressed any of the GOS staff were for this event–maybe they were, but if so, I didn’t sense any major “hurry-scurry” atmosphere, which is what you want when hosting an event. I truly enjoyed the event and my connection with them. Now go plan a great event for your clients and customers–without getting stressed out!

Your turn: What event do you have coming up? What tip would you offer?