I love checklists. As an Event Planner for over 15 years, there is nothing I enjoy more than a well-organized checklist. It makes planning and executing events a much smoother process. We use checklists for every type of event, from our Academy Summits where we have hundreds of people in attendance to our coaching meetings where we have a dozen attendees.
Why have a checklist?
- Chaotic and fleeting thoughts are captured on paper. A lot of time, stress comes from thinking of all the things that need to happen. When thoughts are swirling around in your head they will continue to bounce around until you write them down (or type them). Once you capture them, the sense of overwhelm is reduced as you work your way through what needs to be done.
- Organization. Everyone knows the saying, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Make sure you’re setting yourself up to have the most successful event possible by creating a list or timeline of how the event needs to run to be successful.
- Create headspace to tackle onsite obstacles. I can assure you that something will go wrong. Regardless of your planning, there will be a hiccup. That is the nature of events. Knowing that your list has everything on it, allows you to focus on problems as they arise. So while things are coming at you from every direction, you can focus on the issue at hand, instead of being distracted with handling the preparations.
- For example, with events, there could be an issue with your audio-visual equipment that needs immediate troubleshooting, an upset attendee, or even a missing educational speaker.
- Use your checklists! This may sound ridiculous, but I’ve noticed when people are newer to running events, they can get overwhelmed and leave their lists behind. If you’ve spent time preparing a checklist, use it!
While you may agree with me, perhaps you are unsure about how to get started creating a checklist that will be effective and thorough. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Spend time walking through EVERY step that needs to be handled. To be fully prepared, imagine yourself as the attendee walking up to the event. What do you look for? What do you expect? What questions would you have?
- Write down every detailed task. For example, if your attendee approaches the event and needs to use the restroom, how easy is it to locate the restroom? Is the restroom clean and well stocked? Add things like “check to make sure the restroom is clean and well stocked” to your checklist!
- Don’t leave it to memory. If you think to yourself, “Of course I’ll remember to do _______ (fill in the blank) because I always do that task,” you’re not setting yourself up for success. Don’t leave any piece of the event to chance. You’re more likely to forget even the most routine tasks when you’re faced with lots of questions from your team and your event attendees.
- Does your list make sense to someone else? If an unexpected problem or accident arises, you should be able to pass off your list to someone on your team with confidence knowing the event will continue on while you handle emergency situations. Will it be done with your same finesse? Maybe. Maybe not. You will know, however, that your team is prepared and won’t be flailing. The show will go on, even if you aren’t there looking over every little detail.
- Review your lists often! Just because you have completed an event that doesn’t mean your work is done! Review your notes, recap what worked and did not work and then update your checklists for next time. Even if you don’t plan to have a specific event again, you’ll want to recap so you can document your lessons learned. Be honest with yourself about what worked and didn’t. I also recommend asking your team for candid feedback. Let them know their comments will help the team grow and improve for the future.
The idea of having checklists is not just event specific. What procedures do you have at your office for day-to-day tasks? Are they documented? Do you have cross-trained staff? If there was an emergency and you had to leave tomorrow, would your business be able to continue? If you have doubts or are unsure, it’s time to start thinking about what systems you need to put in place at your firm.8
Director, Projects and Event Planning
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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