Lindsay Taylor details five simple steps to take the pain out of planning and ensure you deliver the best event.

For many Assistants, an integral part of their job is to organise and run events. You can ensure every event you organise is a great success by following a simple step-by-step technique which uses questioning and creative visualisation as its basis.

The foundations of this technique are rooted in the belief that ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ – a saying I’m sure we’ve all heard before. But how often do we live by this saying? How often do we ignore it, park it to one side and rush into ‘doing’? With increased pressure on our time it might feel like we are ‘wasting’ our time by sitting and thinking. And by ‘jumping straight in’ and doing something physical (rather than mental) we have tangible evidence that we are indeed undertaking the project. However, by leaving out the planning (mental) part of organising and running events – failing to plan – you could indeed be planning to fail.

Before organising or running any event, putting aside time for quality thinking, asking great questions and putting into practice creative visualisation, ensures that every event you organise and run can – and will – be a success.

Let’s assume you’ve been given the task of organising and running this year’s sales conference. You want to ensure it’s a real success.

Schedule a 45 minute slot (ideally with your boss and team) to work through the model and spend some quality thinking time to really be clear and motivated about organising and running this successful event. Arm yourself with coloured pens and a large sheet of paper. The large sheet will act as a record of your thoughts and answers to the questions we are going to ask. How great would it be to put this sheet at the front of a file dedicated to this event? At a glance you will have a motivational ‘picture’ of all the things you have considered to make sure you organise and run a successful event.

The Steps

Step 1 – The Tigger Bit: Identify what you WILL do

Write down ‘I will organise and run a successful 2012 sales conference’ and say it out loud. Being able to articulate what we do want, what we will do or can do is what I call ‘Tigger thinking’ – moving forward with Tigger-ific energy and bounce. Tigger thinking is energetic and motivating.

By using the word ‘will’ and verbalising it, you are committing to do it and have ‘put it out there’ as real and definite.

Step 2 – The Tardis Bit: Ask great questions and use creative visualisation

You’ve used the word ‘successful’ in your outcome. With that in mind, think about the following questions and write down your answers:

– What does a successful sales conference mean to me?
– What does a successful sales conference mean to my boss or the team?
– What is the measure of a successful conference?
– What is the purpose of the sales conference?
– Have you or someone else run this event before? If so, what do you or they know already works well?
– What can you learn from previous event(s)?
– What open and honest feedback would you give about previous event(s)?
– If the previous event(s) was a success, what would make it even better?
– What things will you repeat and replicate? Do more of? Less of? Take out? Include or introduce?

Now use creative visualisation. This is simply the technique of imagining what you want by using all of your senses – it creates a ‘future memory’ as a reference point for your mind to work to. I also like to think of this stage of the model as entering your own Tardis to do a bit of ‘Dr Who time travel’.

So, imagine you can travel forward in time in your very own Tardis. It is the end of the successful sales conference which you have organised and run.

– What can you see happening around you?
– What tells you this event has been a great success?
– What are you saying to yourself?
– What are others saying to you?
– How do you feel now this event is over and has been so successful?
– How are you being congratulated or congratulating yourself for a job well done?

Step 3 – What’s it all about?

Next let’s consider what this event is all about. If you were able to articulate to a complete stranger what this event is, what would you tell them? If you could write a press release explaining what this event is, what would you write? Be sure to ask yourself:

– Who is involved?
– Who will be invited to this event?
– When is it taking place?
– If a date hasn’t been set – what possible dates are there?
– What do you need to do to get the ball rolling on fixing a date?
– Where is it taking place? If a venue hasn’t been set, what are the possibilities?
– What do you need to do to get the ball rolling on fixing a venue?

Step 4 – What do you need?

What do you need to organise and run this successful event? We’ve already identified that your time is precious, so if you need assistance, can you delegate some of the organisation and running of this event to another team member? Who? Be clear about the expectations and allocation of different tasks to other team members.

– How are you going to need to be to achieve this – for example organised, focused, motivated?
– How does organising and running this event fit with you at the moment?
– What kind of things do you think you will come up against?
– How are you going to overcome these?

Step 5 – Identifying your First Step : The Tigger and Tardis bit again!

Now identify the very first step you can and will take to achieve this successful event. This is something you can do in the next 24 hours. State your first step in Tigger-language – for example ‘I will {the thing you are going to do} by tomorrow’ and say it out loud. Jump in your Tardis, step forward in time and imagine you have taken this first step:

– What can you see happening around you?
– What can you hear?
– How are you feeling now you have taken this first step?

And that’s it! You’ve just spent some quality thinking time considering all the things that go into making sure the event you organise and run is a huge success. You’ve answered some great questions, used Tigger thinking and Tardis time travel. And you have one illustrative, motivational picture that you can refer to throughout the process of organising this event.

And now all that leaves me to say is ‘here’s to a successful event!’.

Lindsay Taylor is the Director of Your Excellency Limited. A former EA herself, she appreciates the challenges and diversities of the role. Lindsay is a preferred training provider with The Institute of Administrative Management (IAM), one of the oldest ... (Read More)

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