Creating an experience for thousands of people has put event professionals on Top 10 lists of the most stressful jobs.
And as organizations produce more hybrid and virtual event experiences, event planning has taken on even new levels of complexity … and perhaps stress.
Stress is commonly defined as the body’s response to pressure, triggered when we experience something new, unexpected or that threatens our sense of self. It comes on when we feel we have little control over a situation. It is that feeling when we start thinking our capacity for doing the tasks at hand is too low to complete them all.
For a lot of organizations and event planners, they are still learning and transitioning to virtual and hybrid experiences. Post-pandemic, we are a digital-first world and attendees continue to scream out for virtual options. As a result, organizations must step outside comfort zones and design full scale events digitally, creating more stress than ever before.
How can stress be reduced?
We sat down with CEO of Endless Events Will Curran and JUNO’s Peter Hodgen to talk about stress within the industry.
“I think one reason why there's so much stress in what we do is also because we are an industry that prides itself on deadlines. Everything leads to this; the week of the event is okay to work 20 hour days, things like that,” Will Curran, CEO of Endless Events said. “I don’t know many industries where we would get named the fifth most stressful job in the entire world and wear it like a badge of honor.”
“Lack of confidence and clarity are the things we see creating the most stress for our clients. Technology layers in new challenges, and it’s causing stress when conversations are not being held to share feelings and clarify needs,” said Peter Hodgen, VP, Enterprise Partnerships for JUNO.
Association professionals have found themselves stranded in many cases and are now seeking stronger partners in production companies and event platforms.
“Event companies in general should always be pushing clients a little bit to try something a little uncomfortable. If you aren’t doing one thing that scares you, you’re not really pushing the envelope for your entire event. We’ve put so much growth into the industry over the last year, don’t just stunt it by doing the exact same thing you’ve always done before. If your vendor isn’t pushing you, or you push your vendor and they don’t seem to react with positivity, it's either time to change what you are doing or change the team you bring around you,” Curran said.
“Partners need to deliver a hands-on approach, be available to answer questions, and provide training,” Hodgen said. “There are a lot of platforms out there, including a lot of DIY platforms, that put event planners under a tremendous amount of stress because they are building something by themselves.”
When vendors are partners, the team grows and more can be achieved. Everyone can work toward the vision together.
“You’ve got to build a freakin’ awesome team around you,” said Curran. “Make it where you have a team that you love to work with that you not only are looking forward to working and producing an event together, but you actually feel like you would be comfortable getting a beer with this person afterwards"
“We want to build those relationships and that makes the stress drop dramatically because when you’re working with a friend or someone you know and really trust, you’re able to be more confident with them.”
Another critical stress inducer for any association is not really understanding terminology or requirements for virtual and hybrid events. One of the best ways to learn is to experience it.
“The sooner we can get organizations into a live event or into a demo site where they can start to experience it, the more they can quickly see and understand how this works. Once organizations get a sense for the platform, an event company can then dive into your goals, work back from there, and find the right solution that works,” Hodgen said.
Many times when people don’t know how to do technology, the first instinct is not to Google it and figure it out, it's to call in the people who can show you how to fix it. But when talking about more complex solutions, business acumen helps.
The biggest challenge can come from jumping right into tactics, rather than starting at the why. Stress is reduced when we all come together and start with strategy, said both Curran and Hodgen.
“A lot of times stress comes from planners is because their stakeholders (bosses, CMO’s, whoever the stakeholders are in the conversation) aren’t a part of that planning process and that strategy process from the beginning,” Curran said. “All the weight of the world is funneling through the planner and then that planner has to push all that pressure down on the vendors, their employees, and their direct reports.”
Endless Events is an event production company that has the ability to help event planners produce in-person, virtual, and hybrid events. With over 1,000 customers, Endless’ event services are designed to bring simplicity and excellent execution to a client’s event technology stack.