As Mental Health Awareness Week draws to a close, I feel so encouraged by the potential for improved stress management in the event sector.
It feels like the delirium and (let’s be honest) trauma of the recent event sector transformation has also finally opened up the conversation about stress management.
Gone are the days of ‘keep your head down and just suck it up’ and finally we are having regular and healthy conversations about protecting our head space - both our own and that of our teams - as we move forward with the hybrid events of the future.
The total change in the way we are now (almost all) working, in a hybrid fashion with time split between home and the office, is not only opening up conversation about mental health, but also about hybrid event planning. So here are a few thoughts from leaders involved in the events of the future, on how to keep stress in check:
1. "Learn when to say no." Chris Hughes, Editor-in-chief, Unbound
Indeed, learning when to say no isn’t just a way to reduce stress in hybrid event delivery, it’s a life skill that many find hard to master and I certainly include myself in that statement. Hybrid events open up more potential components than a single event will ever need, so identifying what potential hybrid components you should say no to, or even abandon after attempting them, is crucial. It also segways nicely into keeping things simple...
2. “The single most important part of hybrid event development today, is ensuring you embrace simplicity and avoid introducing unnecessary layers of complexity.” Ed Poland, Co-Founder, Hire Space
And you know what to do when you find you are getting bogged down in unnecessary layers of complexity… you just say no. Easier said than done, but still essential. Once you’ve got your fundamental design simplified and in place, keeping stress levels down comes down to preparation, preparation and yep, you guessed it, more preparation.
3. "It's all about the prep; much more required in the build up to your virtual & hybrid event for speakers, commercial partners and attendees." Claire Tulloch, Director, Tembo
I’m fortunate to be working with Claire on an upcoming project (it’s a mammoth effort, it involves hybrid events, a venue in New York, a venue in London and a host of speakers there and all over the world!) and having her and her experience at the helm with this deep understanding of just how important preparation is, is a great comfort to me in stressful moments.
Preparation should also be a source of comfort to you, but it only will be if you give your teams the bandwidth to genuinely prepare and not just wing it. Event professionals are the true experts of winging it, but that really shouldn’t be Plan A.
Having trusted and proven suppliers is another key way to keep your stress levels down and of course leads us perfectly onto our next quote:
4. "Hire a good production partner for a start! Try and do it all yourself for hybrid and you're going to have a meltdown." Ralph Cochrane, Co-Founder, event.video
I don’t think this needs much explanation, only agreement. It leads us to one of the challenges around hybrid event management that where there are more moving parts, and maybe more suppliers, that there is a greater need for strong project management than ever before...
5. "We mustn't underestimate the power of good project management.” Arvi Virdee, Founder, Hybrid Event Solutions
This can be challenging as how do you manage a project that you have never experienced before? Most event planners are soon to be project managing their first ever hybrid event so revisiting the core principles of project management is highly recommended.
This will also help determine ownership and accountability across your team, and in particular I recommend considering the separate ownership of the in-person event attendee experience and the virtual attendee experience.
6. “We‘re already allocating independent project managers for the virtual and in-person elements of hybrid events so that there is full accountability for delivery to each audience group.” Dina Green, Managing Director, ORANGEDOOR
I learnt this from Dina very recently and it’s so obvious that separating out this ownership will almost certainly lead to better results as both attendee groups receive equal attention and commitment.
And finally, coming in at number 7 is a great, raw and honest comment on how to manage stress levels that was recently recommended to me by a conference producer, who’ll remain anonymous, from the world’s largest commercial conferencing company…
7. "I have a screaming pillow. When I must scream, I get the screaming pillow."
To me this is a reminder that all the best advice in the world doesn’t matter, unless you keep it real and remember when to poke fun at the situation.
To learn more on this topic, download our eBook - The Insider's Guide to Stress-Free Hybrid Events.