We’ve dealt with quite a few event planners in our many, many years of corporate and agency marketing experience. As corporate clients and as event planners ourselves, we’ve been exposed to some hiccups that we learned from and integrated as part of our private and corporate event planning SOPs.

Now that we’ve been managing events for a few decades, we feel like everyone needs to know what to expect when planning an event. Just go ahead and add these to your checklist.

Need a laugh? Here’s another event planner’s recap of 20 years on the job. We haven’t dressed up in cow costumes… yet. It’s always a possibility.

An Event Planner’s “Funny in Retrospect” List: 10 Rules You Must Know

OK, some of these are funny NOW, but they weren’t at the time. Planning and managing an event is stressful enough without having to deal with the unexpected, so that’s why we’re sharing our experience. You need to expect this stuff so you have a plan in place to handle it.

Remember: Always have a plan B. And maybe a plan C. Contingencies and redundancies are your friend.

event planners near me image rule 1 watch the weather

Rule Number 1: The Weather Laughs at Your Plans

We’re in Texas, and Texans LOVE to joke about the weather. That whole “wait five minutes and it’ll change” trope plays out everywhere, because it’s true. If any part of your event is outdoors, or if it’s indoors and has floors that could get wet and cause a fall hazard, you need to keep an eye on the skies.

Add these to your list:

  • Wet floor signs
  • Doormats
  • Umbrella stands and/or bags
  • Actual umbrellas
  • A completely new plan for outdoor events, in case of rain
  • SHADE… all the shade
  • Enough bottled or infused water to fill a waterbed, per person

Corporate event planners Fort Worth rule 2 cute shoes are not comfortable

Rule Number 2: Comfortable Shoes Are Not Cute

We know you want to look fabulous and completely professional, but you also will need your feet after the event is over.

Every year, we manage a sizable conference on a university campus. While the actual footprint of our venue isn’t huge, we always manage to walk 14,000 miles by the end of the day. Fitbits don’t lie, my friend. (Or maybe it’s steps. Whatever.)

Event planners, beware cute shoes. They will cripple you.

Add these to your list:

  • Backup shoes that are somewhat cute
  • Tennis shoes for when your feet have given up
  • Band-aids for blisters
  • The confidence to care not one bit about fashion

Event management rule 3 no one reads emails

Rule Number 3: Your Pre-Event Emails Are a Distant Memory

They’re so beautiful. All those emails event planners slave over, full of brand-appropriate design and easily digested bullet lists, are pointless. Not one attendee will reference your landing page or website. Your helpful pre-event checklist will go unread.

Add these to your list:

  • QR code signs for the event website and any third-party links
  • Printed FAQs with scripts for your staff and volunteers (we suggest sparkly binders to make it more fun)
  • The patience of Job
  • A handy repertoire of breathing exercises

Conference management rule 4 you will have to speak

Rule Number 4: Be Prepared to Speak. On Stage.

Oh, we know you like to run things like a pro in the background. But rest assured, you will be required to make announcements, pinch-hit for emcees, and warn guests about parking violations. Your agenda may change in an instant, and you must be prepared to speak in front of an audience (especially for virtual events).

Add these to your list:

  • Printed speaker bios and emcee script
  • A printout of the day’s agenda (HAHA! Read on…)
  • A mom voice that will stop a toddler from running into traffic (for when the microphone fails)

Professional event planners rule 5 AV equipment will fail

Rule Number 5: Technology is Always Sus

About that microphone: always have a corded mic as backup to a battery-powered one.

About that AV setup: pay extra to always have an AV expert available. Then, learn everything they know so a bio break doesn’t wreck a presentation. Easy peasy.

Add these to your list:

  • A bullhorn
  • A projector and screen
  • Extra microphone batteries
  • Flares to signal your AV people (Tell them to watch for orange smoke)
  • 10 different ways to say, “Minor technical glitch.”

Corporate events rule 6 vendors will get lost

Rule Number 6: Vendors Can Make or Break the Whole Thing

Oh, man. We’ve had some excellent vendors that are professional and make us look great. Some of them, however, were directionally challenged. Be prepared to look like a traffic cop as you flag down your lost vendors.

Hopefully, yours are as great as ours have been about knowing their role and delivering service that’s above and beyond. If not, you’re going to need some backup.

Add these to your list:

  • A printed copy of your vendor contract
  • A printed copy of your deposit receipt
  • A blaze orange set of hand flags for directional visibility

Meeting planners rule 7 know thy PowerPoint

Rule Number 7: PowerPoint IS the Boss of You

We don’t want to make any enemies here, but when it comes to the ubiquitous PowerPoint presentation, you need to always be prepared for the worst. As if PowerPoint isn’t already the worst.

Add these to your list:

  • 15 thumb drives with copies of speaker presentations
  • 2 extra computers with the presentations pre-loaded (plus connection cables)
  • Printed copies of presentations, for speakers who read the screen (when the AV system breaks)
  • Extra screen remotes with batteries (at least four)
  • A PowerPoint and AV expert, for troubleshooting embedded videos and links the venue wi-fi won’t load

Fundraiser planners Fort Worth know special diets

Rule Number 8: You Will Become an Expert on Dietary Restrictions

And really, you need to be. Some people have dietary preferences, and some people have actual food allergies. Event planners don’t have the discretion or the bandwidth to assess the difference, so treat every dietary restriction as a life-threatening situation.

Pro tip: Pre-packaged salad dressings are RARELY gluten-free.

Add these to your list:

  • Plain oil and vinegar for gluten-free salads
  • A copy of your catering request list/contract
  • A team member who can evaluate every special-order meal like a dietician
  • A deep knowledge of special diets, not-allowed foods, and cross-contamination
  • An Uber Eats app for ordering special meals when they’re missing

Corporate conference planning tip 9 adjust your schedule as you go

Rule Number 9: Your Schedule of Events is a Suggestion

As Murphy’s Law would have it, your minute-by-minute breakdown of your event will become obsolete within the first 16 minutes of the day. Event planners with any experience know this, and understand that these rigid timelines are seriously just a “pie in the sky” ideal that no one can ever expect to stick to.

Except your guests. They will not understand deviations from the schedule.

Add these to your list:

  • Red pens for writing on your printed agenda and rearranging as the timeline changes
  • Extra bio breaks, because of all the water you’ve provided guests
  • A big smile and extreme patience for those agendaphiles who will invariably ask why something isn’t happening “on time”

Cowtown Creative event planners Fort Worth rule 10

Rule Number 10: It’s Worth It. Trust Us.

Seriously, all these lessons we’ve shared have been learned with a growth mindset. We were able to laugh about them (and so, so much more) within a few minutes.

You can’t really plan for everything, so the most important thing you need to pack in your event planner’s magic bins is a sense of humor. Oh, and a personal assistant.

Write that down on your list, along with these items:

  • Paper and pen for noting things you’d do differently, or lessons learned
  • A post-event meeting with your crew of event planners/volunteers to discuss those lessons
  • The phone number for Cowtown Creative

You don’t have to do all this on your own. We haven’t seen it all, but we’ve seen a LOT. Let experienced event planners take your event and run with it… in our sensible and fashion-challenged shoes.

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