3 Secrets to a Drama-Free Event Season
Events are an exciting, fun way to bring your staff and supporters together and celebrate your organization. They’re also exhausting! Until you’ve coordinated a fundraising event and experienced it firsthand, you can’t know how all-encompassing they are. Let’s face it…events take over your life.
Through all the planning, execution, and follow-up, one fundraising event can take months to pull off. Event fatigue is real. How can you possibly stay energized during all of this so you can enjoy your event as much as your guests?
One Night Only
In the world of theatre, your event would be a one-night-only performance. But a play doesn’t all happen in one night. Neither does your event. There are weeks of rehearsal, planning, and preparation before you go in front of an audience.
In event-speak, the weeks before your “performance” is the time where you’re securing your venue, designing and sending invitations, tracking RSVPs, recruiting volunteers, and on and on it goes.
In other words, it’s the calm before the storm. Even if everything is going according to plan, now’s the time to practice cautious optimism. Staying on top of these moving pieces will give you peace of mind. When you have that, you can see the questions before they become problems.
Secret #1—Setting the Stage
- Check and recheck your to-do lists.
- Have weekly team meetings to review your progress and bring up any areas that need assistance.
- Follow up with table captains, sponsors, and vendors.
- Contact past attendees who haven’t yet RSVP’d.
The week a show opens in theatre is called tech week—sometimes referred to as “hell week”—when all the technical and performance elements come together to “tech” or create the show an audience sees. Little does that audience know the many elements that have to fall into place to create a memorable experience.
The week typically begins with two “10-out-of-12’s” (back-to-back days of rehearsing for 10 out of 12 hours per day). This is crunch time to set all the sound and light cues, work costume changes, and rehearse moments over and over again in an effort to get as close to perfection as a live performance can be. The days that follow include rehearsals during the day and preview performances at night, culminating in the opening night performance and reception, when donors and press show up to be entertained, wined, and dined.
Events see a similar flurry of activity just prior to the big day. Last-minute RSVPs, finalizing seating arrangements, venue layout, catering, and program order gets set, changed, and reset minute-by-minute.
Secret #2—Preshow Nerves
- Trust your team. You’ve assembled people to help you create magic. Rely on their expertise.
- Delegate responsibilities. You can’t get it all done yourself. Many hands make light work.
- Take regular breaks. Union theatre takes a 10-minute break every 80 minutes. Find the schedule that works for you and stick to it.
- Keep breathing. No really. Deep breaths give you clarity. Try it, you’ll see.
- Go home at the end of a long day. You just spent 12 hours at the office. The work will still be there tomorrow.
“The Show Must Go On”
All of this is thrilling (and sometimes terrifying). Will everything come together in time? Will people show up? Will the weather be good?
You’ve triple-checked everything. You’ve talked through the event with your team. Everyone knows what they’re responsible for and confidence is high. Take a deep breath (yes, more breathing!). You’ve got this.
Secret #3—Event Day Essentials
- Load up your clipboard or tablet (for the mobile-savvy) with your day-of checklist and contact info. Just knowing you have it will put you at ease.
- Pack your bag the night before so you can just grab it and go.
- Get a good night’s sleep. You’ll need to be well-rested, so you can think on your feet.
- Wake up early enough so you’re not rushed. Do whatever centers you best—work out, run, yoga, meditate. Take this time for you because you’re going to be pulled in many different directions all day.
- Eat a good breakfast. It’s probably the only meal you’ll have today. Bring granola bars or fruit for quick pick-me-ups during the day.
- Drink lots of water. More water than coffee!
- Wear sneakers or comfortable shoes all day. Pack your event outfit and change later.
- Get to the venue early. Arrive 15-30 minutes before staff and volunteers are due to show up and do a walk-through of the space so you know where everything is when your team arrives. Your confidence and calm will make everyone feel the same way.
Take a Bow
Your event date arrives—and so do your guests. Everyone is happy and praising you and your team. “What a wonderful event,” they say. All the planning, hard work, long hours, and energy pays off. Your thank-yous and event follow-up will start tomorrow. Now that the guests have left and everything’s been packed up, there’s only one last thing to do…treat yourself. Whether it’s a glass of champagne, fancy dessert, or simply going home and putting your feet up, congratulate yourself on a job well done. Enjoy this moment. You deserve it. Then go back to the office and do it all again!