Events seldom go exactly as planned.

Things change. Something unexpected pops up. Or someone does something you hadn't planned.

That isn't always bad, but it can be frustrating for an event planner and sometimes the vendors.

When people not familiar with events plan things, they tend to add too much to the schedule. This causes a rush trying to get things finished.

People not familiar with the flow of an event don't always understand they are just a small part of the overall picture.

I'm going to share two stories of different events in this article. In both cases there is a single simple solution to help prevent this from happening to you.

The first event was a major party for a family run company.

It was New Year's Eve. The company had arranged an elaborate set up and hired an expensive caterer.

To open the event, they hired a magician who was to perform for five minutes. As soon as he was finished, the waiters would swoop in with trays of food for all the guests.

The magician did his five minutes, then said, “I don't have to be at my next show for another hour, so let me do one more trick for you.”

In his mind, he was “adding value” to the client by doing more than he was paid for.

But in the kitchen area, people went nuts.

The food was piping hot and on the trays. The staff was ready for the cue to swoop in.

The magician did another 20 minutes.

  • The food was no longer hot.
  • The caterer was angry.
  • The entire party was now 20 minutes behind schedule.

It caused the event planner to cut back on other entertainment & activities for that party so they could be ready for midnight.

The President …

I was the headline entertainment for an association banquet. My contracted show time was 8:00 PM.

After the meal, the president of the association wanted to wait a few minutes before he got up to give his speech. He wanted people to be able to go for a bathroom break and grab another drink at the bar.

He finally went on stage about 8:00 to give his welcome and introduce the speaker who was on before me.

His welcome included a quick story he wanted to share. It took him 25 minutes to tell this. Then he remembered something related to share, and the second quick story ran about 18 minutes.

His introduction for the speaker, who was a friend, went on for at least 6 minutes.

The speaker got up and did a 15 minute speech.

During this the event planner was apologizing to me and said I would be on immediately following the short video they had. I told her not to worry, I was her's for the evening. That is my policy.

The speaker finished and the President introduced the video, which was short as the planner had promised.

The event planner was just about to introduce me when the President stood and walked back onto the stage.

He wanted to introduce the division leaders and have them say a few words.

I talked to the event planner and asked how long they had the room. Her reply was 10:00, but not to shorten my show, she would handle it.

I went on at 9:45 pm. My 45 minute set ended at 10:30 to a standing ovation. The event planner was happy, the event ended on a strong note. She was less happy the budget now had to cover extra pay for the hotel staff.

In both of these situations, the magician and president, were too absorbed in their own part and didn't realize how it would affect anyone else.

That is why it is important for you, as an event planner, to make sure everyone is aware of the big picture.

Had the magician known the food would be plated during his act and needed to come out in exactly 5 minutes, he might have stuck to his time. (If he was a professional …)

Had someone talked with the association president, they would have probably remembered to include the division introductions on the schedule and created time for that.

They could also have discussed the importance of keeping things on schedule. Even if the president is long winded, he would keep his eye on the time to avoid additional expenses.

I've actually had people say, “Well, he/she is the president, so he/she can do what he/she wants.”

He or she is a person. Chances are, events are not his or her specialty. Share the information. I bet the president understands cost overruns and budgets.

It needs to be spelled out. Not just for the entertainer, or caterer or president/CEO – but for everyone involved in any phase of the event.

Show your people the big picture and they will take more pride in their contribution to the event's success.

An Additional Note:

Do you have delay clauses in your event contracts?

Talk to your vendors and entertainers to find out their policy before you sign.

Time is money.

Some entertainers charge extra for each 15 minutes of wait beyond their contracted show time.

I know some entertainers who book multiple shows on the same night. If your event runs long, they cut the show short, or leave without performing and still expect pay.

While I understand these reasons, I do not operate that way.

The night of your event, it is my only focus. I set and soundcheck before your guests arrive. That way you know I am there and ready to go.

It allows you to relax and not worry if the entertainer will show up.

If your event runs long, it isn't a problem.

I'm there to help you be successful. I can start when you need me. I can tailor my show to fit your time frame.

You pay for this level of service in my fee. There are no additional surprises to your budget.

If you are planning an event – contact me to discuss your entertainment needs. I'd be happy to help, or offer suggestions that may better suit your event & audience.