When you were a child, didn’t you get tired of having your parents tell you the same thing over and over? However, as we have more “life experiences,” you have to realize the benefits of “over communicating.” This is because when small things slip through the cracks you cannot always cover them up. In fact, some small errors can lead to big problems, both professionally as well as personally. So make sure you think things through very thoroughly, question the details, and reconfirm more than once. It sounds very simple, but it’s not.

 

Here’s a case in point—when a potential client asks us to provide a team building activity for their group, we need to ascertain exactly what constitutes success for this client. For example, we once orchestrated an event for 1400 people in Europe. We had only three weeks to put every detail of the event in place, and participants had a great time. However, our client did not ask for our assistance in “marketing” the activity and we assumed that they were taking care of getting people to participate. Wrong. What little information given to attendees about the event plus very poor weather left many wondering if it was worth the effort or even necessary to be part of a team building activity. We ended up with very good attendance, but know that it could have been great if we had asked about this detail and questioned our client more thoroughly about what they were doing to generate excitement about the event. Lesson: Get your vendor partners more involved, and as vendors, be more involved in every aspect, because each part of the meeting affects every other part.

 

Don’t make assumptions! Just because you have an excellent activity for your meeting in place, does the space and venue really lend itself to the event? You need to consider what the best set-up is for the activity and can this actually be accomplished in the time frame given. If an air wall needs to be pulled or tables and chairs moved, is there time and will the venue’s staff take care of it when needed?  Ask the question. Sometimes hotel staff is not available to make these changes because of other meetings and commitments, and sometimes, what you are requesting is just not realistic (like turning a huge ballroom in 15 minutes).

 

Ask about every detail. Some of our activities require something as simple as a pen. Many hotels and meeting places provide paper and pens, but you can’t assume they will automatically have them for your activity. Ask them. If unsure, bring your own.

 

Don’t wait until the last minute and do push people for answers. Everyone is very busy, and sometimes people take longer than expected to return calls or answer questions. But you can nicely press them for answers. You do not want to find out that something can’t be done on the day of your meeting or event. You may step on toes if you have to go directly to the source for an answer (we all have to work through layers of people at times)—but it is better to get the answer and know what you have to work with when there is plenty of time to make adjustments rather than be scrambling at the “11th hour.” Apologize later for doing the “end around,” but assure everyone that it was in the best interest of the event’s success… and that reflects on all.

 

  1. Make detailed lists and ask questions about every aspect of the function.
  2. Recap in writing the conversations and agreements. Just because someone “said” something doesn’t make it so.
  3. Don’t make assumptions that someone else is taking care of it. Check and double check.
  4. Be supportive to all who are working with you (colleagues and vendor/partners). A positive attitude will get you more than finger-pointing.