It’ll hardly surprise those at the front lines of the live event industry to learn that event producer was listed as the fifth most stressful job in the world, after only jobs like soldiers and pilots.
Being at the helm of a sprawling, dynamic organizational structure which has to move and respond in sync with the challenges that arise is stressful. The event producer role demands a very particular kind of crazy and takes a willingness to lead a team of people headstrong into the storm and to remain calm, focused and smiling, even as the hail and sleet lash down around you.
Join us as we look into some of the defining traits of a successful event producer and offer some simple tips on how you can hone the process and the structure around you to minimize stress and maximize impact.
Your success as an event producer will hinge on your ability to stay organized and composed in the face of chaos. You need to maintain clear systems in order to stay afloat in a choppy ocean of spreadsheets, contracts, meetings, calls, radio interruptions, etc. All the while, the clock is ticking mercilessly towards game day.
You will have long and short-term goals all vying for fraying strands of your attention, and you need to be able to juggle these simultaneously whilst remaining focused on what needs your precious attention most at that moment.
Organizational skills for an event producer is an enormous topic in and of itself and is deserving of its own blog post. But you should be looking to optimize your workflow and be able to access the information you need easily and quickly to make the best decision with a moment’s notice. This is all about organization.
Quick Decision-Making Skills
You’re going to be expected to make decisions on a minute-by-minute basis, and, while a slip up may at first appear innocuous, its compounding effect could be huge. Every decision counts, and so does the clock.
Assuming you and the people around you are organized, you should be imbued with the tools to make snap decisions with confidence and brevity.
This article from Lifehacker breaks down the mindset and step-by-step process for making snap decisions and is essential reading for any event producer that flies by the seat of his or her khaki cargo pants.
While some consider it an illusion and a process that actually stifles productivity, event producers need to be able to multitask on some level.
The best you can probably hope for is to learn to seamlessly gearshift between problems, departments, personnel and hemispheres of your caffeinated brain without disorienting yourself.
In a perfect world, you’ll be the absolute master of your time and focus, but in reality you’re going to be juggling, while riding a unicycle, through a ring of fire.
Strong, Concise Communication
Loquaciousness is not an attribute of an effective event producer. You need to be able to say what you want to say as clearly and quickly as possible, across a diverse set of channels and—most importantly—directly to someone’s face.
Sometimes this can be interpreted as being cold, or bossy, but it takes a certain awareness on your part to ensure that your team understands that this is the nature of the game and that they shouldn’t get butt-hurt if you’re a little tart with them. You’ll be helped along if you have a flair for empathy, as this will help to keep your staff motivated and feeling valued as the sky is falling out above you.
The Capacity to Delegate
Sure, this event might be your baby. You might have first dreamed it up, have every tiny detail mapped out in your head, and have meticulously staffed every key role according to your ideas of success.
But here’s the kicker: you can’t be everywhere working on everything. And if you try to, you’ll completely overwhelm yourself, alienate your team and jeopardize your dream.
Being able to spot and hire talent is a vital skill, but it’s just as important to allow them to take ownership over their roles. If you are a great leader, you’ll be able to honestly identify your own weaknesses and strengths (in that order), delegate accordingly, communicate what you want and touch in when necessary.
Nobody likes a micro manager. Nobody.
Eye for Detail
Spotting the details and sweating over them will ingrain this ethos into your staff. They will feel your looming attention on all of their decisions whether it is there or not, and they should. Why is that light broken? Who’s responsibility is it to clear this random pile of wood? There’s a spelling mistake on the website; who’s fixing it?
If you establish and maintain initial attention-to-detail it will quickly self-regulate and allow you to step back and focus on doing what you need to do. This will require consistent touching back in to ensure that everyone’s staying sharp, but it’ll pay off when you see how meticulously well-organized your event is.
Warning: this can veer into micromanagement territory very quickly, so be careful.
Your brain is going to need to be the eye of the storm. You’re absolutely no use to anyone if you’re stressed and overwhelmed to the point of incapacity. If someone comes to you looking for a fast answer on game day and you’re engulfed in some existential dread, things are going to start falling apart very soon.
This is going to take a lot of work and a lifetime to master. But you should always strive to handle stress better and take ample care of your body and mind to put you in the best possible position to achieve calm.
Look, things are going to go wrong. You will be tested. The wifi will go down. The headliner hasn’t arrived yet. There is a 5,000-person bottleneck at the front gate and people are getting mad.
You are going to find yourself being scrambled to make a decision on something that you really don’t want to be thinking about at that moment. This takes a combination of organization, zen, leadership and quick decision-making skills. Your capacity to effectively lead your team largely hinges upon your ability to have sure footing in the face of adversity.
Faith in Technology
Technology will make your life easier. It’s as simple as that. Using Slack will improve communication. Google Drive will help to organize and share documents. Event management tools can help you to centralize your event’s nervous system and hopefully bring your own into a state of relative calm.
The tools are out there to make you and your event operate more efficiently. Figure out what works for your team, implement them and strive to keep tweaking and optimizing your process.
Finally, Have a Sense of Humor
Events are supposed to be fun, so try to keep the emotions high from the top of the castle.
Transmit positivity and instill a sense of fun and humor into your operation, and you’ll be able to keep your staff upbeat and ready to fight in even the most testing moments.