Live events can last a week with days of 10 hours or more. Think about summer festivals and industry conventions.
In order to stay healthy and focused for the whole time, you need to start the preparations long before. We have some tools and tips to help keep you going during the event.
Preparing for the days during the event is not so different to training for your first half marathon: you need to train your body as well as your mind, and it takes time and planning.
Some events take months to prepare, while others come and go in a couple of weeks. The closer it is to the first day of the event, the more strategic you need to be.
The week before
Explore the venue
Ideally, you should know the venue like the back of your hand so that you are able to quickly work out the fastest way from one spot to another. Even if you are only stationed in a certain area, it’s necessary to know your way around the whole venue as you might need to, for example, fetch something for your station or give directions to a guest.
While walking around the venue, you can check the event flow as if you are a guest. If, for example, you plan a big conference with fifty talks in ten different rooms, you want to make sure all guests have enough time to move from one room to another for all the talks they might choose.
MapMyWalk – iPhone screenshot
It’s also useful to estimate the distance you would have to cover on one day of the event so that you can prepare yourself physically. Use a fitness tracking watch with a built-in GPS or step-counter, such as the Fitbit Surge or the Garmin Vivoactive, to show you the total distance and your average pace when you walk. Alternatively, you can opt for a cheaper solution such as a walking (or running) app on your smartphone. MapMyWalk is a highly recommended walking app, free for both iOS and Android. The app is elegantly designed and simple to use. Another example is Runkeeper – a reliable app to track the distance you walk, run or cycle though it is only available on iOS, and it requires a monthly fee if you want to unlock certain features.
Stay fit and healthy
Even though being active and fit often comes with your career as an event planner, it is important to up your game before long event days. Don’t “accidentally” forget the evening workout, even if your workday already seems too much. By the same token, skipping the morning run for an extra hour of sleep might not be as dreamy as it sounds.
When choosing the type of workout, you should focus on exercises that improve your endurance. Go for a long distance run twice a week or jog for forty five minutes every other day.
No matter how busy you are during the week leading up to the event, eat regularly and healthily. Pick the food that boosts your immune system because a crowded event is, unfortunately, a place where you can easily pick up germs.
Strengthen your immune system with a diet high in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat to minimise the chance of catching a cold from one of the contractors or guests. Some nutrients including selenium, zinc, vitamin A, B2, B6, C, and D help boost your immune system. They can be found in ingredients like fish and shellfish, beef, and sweet potatoes. Garlic and mushrooms also have an infection-fighting capability. If it’s challenging to prepare a diet that provides you with all your nutrient needs, you can take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. Additionally, get more calories in your diet to prepare for long event days packed with physical activities and mental challenges.
The period approaching live event days is the best time to healthy habits. The Productive app can help you build good healthy habits. The app’s intuitive interface helps you create simple routines in a low-stress way. You choose a few healthy habits that you want to develop, and set a time of the day when you want to do it. With the app, you receive daily reminders and can track the perfect days when everything gets done, so you stay motivated.
(Productive – Screen shots)
The day before
Check your gear
You should plan what to wear at least a day in advance so that you have enough time find missing items and get dirty ones washed.
Try on the outfit to make sure it’s suitable for the event. Put on the shoes to see if they are comfortable enough for a lot of walking. Here are some tips regarding clothes:
- Wear fabrics that stretch so that you can move around at ease and lift boxes when needed.
- Choose breathable material if the weather forecast says it’s going to be hot.
- Carry an extra layer, especially for an outdoor event. You don’t want to shiver with a cold because the weather changes suddenly.
- Material like merino wool is built for extreme weather, yet lightweight and exceptionally soft so it’s ideal for outdoor events in the height of the summer or winter.
Check into a hotel near the event venue
You definitely do not want to add an hour of driving back and forth to a 10-hour long event day. Check into a nearby hotel the day before to avoid the hassle of the traffic. Besides, staying near the venue is convenient for any last minute arrangements.
The evening before
Get ready for the morning
Lay out your outfit and shoes. Iron the shirt and buff the shoes if necessary. Hang your badge next to your bag. Pack handy things to keep you going are energy snacks, a portable USB battery for your phone, and a refreshment kit.
Write down the following day’s agenda in detail, with any backup plans. (Check number 10 of this article for more about this habit).
Take the time to check and make sure you have all information in one place and at your fingertips. You can use Workflowy to organize lists of documents and contacts, which you can access from everywhere via its mobile, iPad or desktop apps. For example, you might be organizing a beer festival and want a list with links to all brochures and leaflets of the breweries participating, as well as a list of the types of beer, a list of contacts from all breweries, contacts of the agencies you can go to if you need a last minute replacement and so on. You can arrange them all in Workflowy and use keyword search to quickly look for information.
(Workflowy – Example)
Dropbox is also another useful app for keeping all your guest lists, photos, notes and other important documents synced across your devices. Before the first day of the event, you should check if your Dropbox organized, and possibly accessible to your team. Make sure you have enough storage left for syncing all items properly.
Go to bed early enough so that you have at least 8 hours of sleep. For many people, especially less experienced event planners, the anticipation of a long day full of excitement keeps them awake at night, so it’s important to switch out of work mode first. At least an hour before bedtime, start doing something totally unrelated to work, like stretching or exercising lightly or reading a novel.
Don’t forget to set an alarm (or alarms if you are to get up at the time much earlier than normal). Setting alarms gets rid of any last concern that you might have and that keeps you from falling asleep. Your brain knows that the alarms are now in charge of waking you up on time, so it can finally go to sleep.
Top recommended apps and tools
You have prepared for the event very well, and now it’s show time: the day of the event.
When you set alarms to get up in the morning, remember to count the time for a proper breakfast. Go for a healthy one, not just a cup of coffee and a croissant. Slow-releasing food like porridge is a good choice because it ensures blood sugar levels remain steady through workout-type activities while providing enough energy to keep you going.
Be kind to your feet
You will need to be on your feet a lot, so plan in advance to minimize unnecessary trips and standing time. Here are some tips:
- Set up a few event boxes containing tools like scissors, tape, screwdrivers, etc., throughout the venue so you don’t have to walk for 15 minutes for a small fix.
- Before going anywhere, ask yourself if you can call or radio someone instead. You can also use apps to communicate with your teammates. For example, the Heytell app turns your smartphone into a walkie-talkie. All you need to do to open the app, choose a contact and push to talk.
- Before setting off somewhere, draw a map in your head and choose the shortest route.
- If you can take a lift, take it. There will be other times when you can be extra environmental friendly.
- Sit down whenever you can.
Hold good posture
Good posture creates a favourable impression for guests to see you and talk to you. Besides, they prevent you from having muscle pain later. Here is the rule of thumb for holding good a posture:
- When standing, hold your upper body straight, shoulders open and relaxing. Avoid crossing your arms.
- When sitting, keep your back straight. Avoid crouching.
- Lift heavy objects with your knees. Start lifting by lowering your body using your knees, lifting up using your leg muscles while keeping your back straight.
Don’t burn yourself out
From the minute you walk into the venue, you are on the clock, and could be like that for more than 10 hours. Take care of yourself because you might not be able to work well for days or weeks following the event if you get burned out by the long event days. Here are things you need to pay attention to, regardless how busy it seems:
- Take regular breaks, if only for a few minutes.
- Keep yourself hydrated: Don’t forget to drink water. If you take coffee and move around a lot in hot weather, drink more than the standard amount of 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day.
- Eat even if you don’t feel like it. Keep energy snack bars handy for emergency top-ups.
- If your event lasts for more than one day, avoid being out and socialising too late at night. Sleep is your priority during that period.
- Ask for help as soon as you see that things are getting too much. Don’t wait until things get out of hand, and don’t try to do everything yourself. If none of your team members is available, call your emergency contact to get help from the outside.
The easier it is for guests to find information online from their phone, the easier it is for you and the more likely your event will run smoothly.
Use social media to communicate with your guests, for announcements as well as for Q&A. Hootsuite is a highly-rated app for managing all your social channels with ease. Create streams and stay up to speed with tweets, posts, likes and check-ins. The app also enables you to schedule posts in advance to reduce the workload during peak times. For scheduling posts, you can also use Buffer – a tool enabling users to share same posts on various platforms quickly and easily. The five social platforms available for a free Buffer account are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.
(Buffer: An example of Post Scheduling and Sharing)
Make sure you have your social feeds shown on the event website as well. If you are not convinced that you need a website for your event, check out this article. Making a mobile app for your event can also be useful if you have the resources to do so.
Keep track of your progress
Take notes of what you need to do or change as soon as a thought comes to mind. Best thing to use is a note-taking app, such as Evernote. By the same token, when you finish a task, tick it off and take it out of the event’s task list and to keep your team informed. Trello is a popular app for planning and tracking tasks for an event. Read more on using Evernote and Trello for event organizing here.
Enjoy the event
It’s important that you enjoy your own event. Don’t think that you need to focus on work for the whole day. If you are organizing a music festival, go to a stage and join the crowd for a song or two now and then. Take the time to talk to colleagues and people visiting your event. Be merry!
Improvise if needed
Things can turn sour suddenly regardless of how thorough your plan is. If the event is outdoors, you will always be dependent on the changeability of the weather. You might also have to deal with last-minute cancellations. You just never know! The key is to stay positive and be ready to improvise. Learn from this example to see how MO POP music festival’s organisers regrouped, reorganized and improvised when facing both an unexpected weather disaster and problems with the closing band.
Top recommended apps and tools
After the event
Don’t beat yourself up if certain things didn’t go well. Congratulate yourself for the hard work. You deserve a pat on the shoulder. A glass of wine and some good rest are in order. The next day or the next week, sit down, look through your notes on Evernote and tasks on Trello to reflect on the whole event and learn from the experience so that you can do even better the next time.