Relationships reign supreme in the events industry. When you work with a different event team each week, it’s important to build a strong network and know how to navigate a collaborative environment with ease.
Miscommunication is perhaps the most significant obstacle faced in event planning and production, so you must work on fostering strong communication skills with your network.
Here are a few strategies for cutting through the noise and honing your communication skills within your industry.
1. Connect regularly
Practice makes perfect, so focus on connecting with your industry peers often. Developing personal relationships outside of work constraints allows you to better understand a person and opens up more channels to communicate. Even if you’re not working directly with someone at the moment, you can still nurture your relationships for future success.
Engage your network on social media, meet up with colleagues for coffee, and reach out with referrals. By staying top of mind with your peers, you’ll be enhancing your connections and putting yourself in a better place to communicate during event production.
2. Employ virtual tools
Collaborative apps and programs, such as Basecamp and Aisle Planner, have transformed the ability to work together in an organized and cohesive manner. Email chains have a way of getting off-track and losing valuable details, so it helps to have a platform that provides everything a team needs at a glance.
The ability to work remotely and in real time allows a planner, a venue, a caterer, a florist and a rental company to remain on the same page and create a time line that works for each partner. There are lots of project management programs out there, so look for one that is affordable and intuitive for everyone to get on board.
3. Confirm contact information
There’s nothing worse than trying to reach someone on an event day, only to find that they’ve shared their only office phone number with you. Lead your team to share all relevant contact information with the group so everyone can be reached in a time of need.
An office number and email address may be sufficient for the planning process, but be sure to grab mobile numbers and even physical addresses for day-of purposes. Compile all of this into one working document that can be easily shared with the rest of the team.
4. Meet in person prior to the event
Virtual collaboration is an excellent way to work through the planning process, but it can’t measure up to the value of meeting in-person to ensure everyone is on the same page. If possible, meet on-site at the event venue to coordinate a walk-through and discuss emergency plans.
Run through the time line to identify potential red flags before they become problems--it will be far easier to address them with everyone in one place. Ensure that each team member has a printed version of the floorplan to take notes and plan setup. This meeting is also a great time to hash out the finer details of deliveries and drop-offs, since you’ll likely have a representative from the venue present.
5. Be clear and concise
It’s always important to be mindful of the words you’re using, but it’s especially critical on event day. While an email worded wrong a few months out can still be amended, you will be running against the clock on the day of--you don’t want to spend precious minutes trying to get your point across multiple times.
In your everyday work, practice being clear and concise. Get to the point that you want to make and double-check it to make sure it’s easy to understand. Again, practice makes perfect, and the more you refine your communication skills, the stronger they will be when it really matters.
6. Prepare for crises
Event crises are inevitable--it’s usually a matter of when, not if. That’s why it’s so important to be proactive and prepare for a crisis ahead of time. While you might not be able to control a surprise hailstorm, your team will be far better off if there is a plan in place, instead of scrambling to make something happen.
Bring your team together to talk emergency protocols and crisis prevention. This is a discussion that should include everyone involved in the event production. For each potential crisis, be sure that all team members know their role. Maybe it’s the planner’s job to help the DJ move all of the AV equipment in case of flooding. Perhaps it’s the caterer’s job to supervise the bar in case of unruly guests. Every event will have a unique crisis plan, and it will become more cohesive as you work through it together.
Miscommunication is no joke and, at the end of the day, it can potentially damage the client relationship for everyone. The team’s goal should be to produce the event without a hitch and, if any obstacles arise, to tackle them together. Personal dynamics aside, keep your eye on the prize: a successful event for your client that will win great reviews and potential referrals for all.
Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, Calif. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE and current international president for WIPA.