going to assume that I’m among professional colleagues and discuss
something you might think obvious: Getting it wrong, and how to avoid
In the last two weeks I’ve attended four events. In each case
there were blinding mistakes which the event organiser should have
easily spotted and fixed: silly things, obvious things, and above all no
It’s always the basics that trip you up: foot flow,
simple technology, joining instructions, the things we forget whilst we
are considering the interesting stuff. From my earliest theatre days I
learned the value of rehearsal, a chance to spot and correct errors.
I’ve always enjoyed working in events because, in some way or other,
this no blame process was in every production. Has it been forgotten?
I was given some early work advice: Panic when you are told it’s an ’easy job’. That means they have not thought it through.
what’s going wrong? Today’s business short lead times mean we are often
on alert at all times, and that’s when stupid slips through. I’ve
discovered that there is actually some interesting science behind it. In
the amygdala, the reptile brain, we look for basic lower level needs:
food, sex, shelter kind of stuff. The amygdala activates when we feel in
some way threatened. When we work in a constant state of high alert (or
panic) the higher functions are unable to function and so short lead
times lead to panic and it’s my theory that this is why so many small
mistakes are made these days.
The events I attended were
organised by experienced people in familiar professional venues but
their state of panic was stopping them seeing basic errors. Why can I
see what’s wrong when the professionals in charge are missing things?
It’s not my fabulous talent; it’s that I’m not engaged. Although
fabulous talent does not hurt either.
So the next time you’re
organising an event, take a step back, ask a friend, think like a guest,
and see what’s missing. The silly things, the obvious things will
suddenly stand out. Once you take the time, and it’s not a long time, to
ignore your plans which took so much sweat to produce, you’ll see
things that, at no cost, will transform your event and they’re usually
very simple to correct.
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