Things I would tell my younger self….

Authors: Andrea Hennel, Manager Specialized Services;  Chelsea Rule, Event Logistics Coordinator Events and Conference Services; Jennifer Brading, Event Logistics Coordinator Events and Conference Services, Mount Royal University Events and Conference Services

Our team was having a rather nostalgic discussion around events and how we approach events management now versus when we first started in our careers, which inspired the writing of this post.

Things I would tell my younger self that would have saved me buckets of stress and sleepless nights…

1. Comfort is key

Never EVER wear those pretty high heels when running an event. It never fails that it will always be the day you wear those beautiful new shoes that you suddenly find yourself running a half marathon at work that day.  You can spot a newbie a mile away by the shoes they wear.

2. Do a “mind dump” at bedtime

Rather than waking up all night with the “don’t forgets and to do’s”,  keep a list beside your bed and take 10 minutes at bedtime to decompress and write down whatever comes to mind for to do’s.  This “mind dump” can be very freeing when you can’t shut your brain off the night before a big event.

3. Don’t play the blame game….

Things happen and you may want to pull your hair out BUT… focus on troubleshooting rather than whose fault the situation is.  We all work very closely with our internal service providers and while things generally go wonderfully, there are times when things can fall off the rails.  The “how we can avoid this situation in the future” discussion can happen after the event, but in the heat of things, its “all hands on deck” to ensure smooth flow.  This leads us to part two on this note- be prepared to pitch in and help out with anything and everything.  This may involve being a caterer, parking attendant, custodial and housekeeping person within the first hour of an event.  At the end of the day client satisfaction is what really matters.

4. Always come in earlier than your client.

Give yourself at least 30-60 minutes lead time before you expect the client to arrive- in this time frame rooms can literally be moved around, speakers green rooms have “mopped”, all with the client being none the wiser of the disaster that could have been.

5. Never agree to something if you’re hesitant that it can be delivered on successfully.

While we all feel pressure to deliver on very high targets, we should all be asking ourselves if there is a concern with a particular client request what is causing this flag.  It is much easier to advise the client of alternatives or caution them on particular choices rather than agreeing to things that logistically or operationally you aren’t fully confident you can deliver on.

6. Always remember to thank people.

Gratitude goes a long way when working with internal service providers as they play a key part in the success of each event.  Knowing how each area/provider likes to be recognized will go a long way on the goodwill front.

7. Stop saying “I’m so busy”.

You are an event person and by virtue of this will always be busy.

8. You’re only as good as your last event

This is the best advice for any event planner. No matter the details that stand out for the Coordinators, guests always remember the details from the previous event. If there were major disasters that weren’t contained behind the scenes, your organizer and guests will remember. By the same token, if you wow your guests with unique event features, themes, entertainment, food & beverage, etc., your event will stand out in their minds and they’ll look forward to attending your next event!

9. A smile is worth a thousand clients

Event Coordinators are the ones who oversee damage control at their events. The oven could break mid-service. The weather could blow over the outdoor food tent. There could be a need for 20 extra tables 15 minutes before the event. All that matters is that the client sees you in a constantly calm and controlled state with a smile on your face. Of course inside you may be throwing a tantrum like a 4 year old and desperately wanting to chug the bottles of wine behind the bar, but an event’s success greatly depends on what you can manage behind the scenes and how you handle all of the mini (or major) crisis that arise.

10 There’s no such thing as a repeat event

Talk to anyone who attends annual events (but who isn’t involved in planning them) and they’ll say that coordinating recurring or annual events is an easy feat. It must be a great ease to just refer to last year’s notes and plans and hit the copy button every year, right? Think again. No matter how many times an event has occurred in the past, the event will be different every year. Coordinators will agree this is actually part of the fun when planning recurring events – there’s always something to troubleshoot and always things that you can’t plan for, no matter if it’s the 14th year of a standard Stampede pancake breakfast or a small annual corporate holiday party.

11. Have fun!

Despite the chaos that may ensue at times in our environment, we always need to be able to share in a good laugh at the end of the day.  Events can be crazy but they should also be positively challenging and fun. If you lose sight of this for extended periods of time, it may be time to evaluate your role in the event world.


Andrea Hennel, Manager Specialized Services at Mount Royal University

Chelsea Rule, Event Logistics Coordinator Events and Conference Services at Mount Royal University

Jennifer Brading, Event Logistics Coordinator Events and Conference Services at Mount Royal University

Mount Royal University Events and Conference Services

Tel: (403)440-8890


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