It’s interesting for me to find out that working in events (especially being event coordinator) is considered as number 5 (from 10) of the most stressful jobs *research by Forbes, 2017. Some of the jobs in the list are like the police officer, pilot, firefighter, military officer, etc. Most of the said jobs have things in common which are it has consequences related to death and life, also it requires quick decision making. On another side, working in event industries implicates high stress mostly because it requires working under deadlines, requires taking quick decisions within a short time, working in public eyes, and not forgetting also it involves lots of physical works and sleepless nights for the last minute preparations.
Before the current job I am having now, I previously worked (for 2 years) in an event management company. The company provides systems through RFID bracelets to (mostly) event organizers which the systems are: access controls, guest management, ticketing service, cashless payment, data collection, brand activation, and many more. In the company, I was specifically working as an Operations Manager whose main job was preparing all the systems needed for the event and also executing it to the event directly. This job made me work a bit more like an event organizer while also being a bit of communicator who also does some of technical (IT) works. Working in the high-speed and stressful event industry and have done around 40 events, I have learned and gained a lot of skills, and there are 5 main things that I learned and gained:
1. I gained the skill to plan and do projects with only a few hours of preparation from 0
Working in event industries, I mostly face one thing: nothing is ideal. Yes, nothing is ideal and most of the times we need to adjust it. In the previous job I did ideally, we should receive a contract or an event deal 1 or 1,5 month before the event. But that is “Ideally”. Most of the times we received event contract for less than 1 month. There was 1 time I received a call from my boss on my way back home in the night, and she asked me questions to make sure if I will be able to prepare the system and everything for an event within 1 day. The conversation going on until bedtime, and there came the next day.
The next day, my prediction was right. We received the deal on the same day that the event will run. And my team was like…. “WOW OK, WE GOT THIS, GUYS. We can do this” (yes I had the most hard-working team, and I was glad about that).
Working in event industries, there will be endless surprises and sudden deadlines. 1 skill that I gained from this experience is that now I get used to and I can prepare projects with a really small amount of time to prepare, even in 1 day. BUT, of course, I do not promote this habit. For me, regardless of how professional a project leader is, enough preparation time is still the most important thing to keep and pursue because the better amount of time to prepare an event, the better the event is possible to be executed (I won’t say the better the event will run, because talking about event is not only about how well you prepare but there are a lot of other factors both internally or externally).
2. I learned the skill to “stop the fire first”
Coming to the event execution time, everyone will have their own level of panic attack. There came the days like we need to set up our system server but the electricity is not there and people already lining up, or where we thought there should be proper signages of the event but there were not. During this situation, I learn a skill that I’m proud to have now (even I still can name few people in my life who should be wise enough but can’t do this) which is the skill to stay calm, see the problem, not trying to get the person who caused the mistake first (especially not in front of other people), then try to find the fastest workaround. Yes. Now I can proudly say when sh*t things happened in the event, I can stay a bit calm and not blaming anyone nor even looking for anyone who did it. The very first thing that I did was usually looking at the issue and trying to find the fastest workaround possible, even if it means including other people from the internal or external team.
Dealing with pressures or issues on the event days for me is like dealing with a fire case. What’s most important and urgently need to be done is to stop the fire. If we need to find a person or a cause of the problem, we can do it later after we fix the issue, after we stop the fire first. And on top of that, if we found out that the cause of the issue is the person inside our team, I really avoid to confront them or telling them that they do the mistake, in front of people. Even in front of my own team. For me, it’s really important to keep this rule “praise them in public, but criticize them in private”.
3. Don’t get hurt when people yell and throw the fire to you while working
In events, people can turn to be someone they are not. Events give pressures in most unpredictable ways. Sometimes it can be that the event organizer got stressed because their artists demand too many things, or when the lines get long and people start complaining. Dealing with this, sometimes when an issue happens, it’s normal if people expect not to be the cause of the issue or not even dealing with it. Thus, sometimes people try to find other people to do and fix the issue. Not to forget also sometimes people yell to the other because they are themselves are about to explode. Many times, they don’t really mean it.
Working in events, I really get used to handling people yell at me over some really small stuff. Getting used to it, I also realize that most of the time, they don’t mean to be yelling at me and even sometimes they do apologize to me afterward. It’s the pressures on the event itself that change people. Dealing with the same situation in so many times, now I have the skill to handle an angry person with a calm manner (and in a professional way), while also trying to fix the issue that is currently happening in events.
4. Know how to prioritize
When it comes to preparing an event, there will be a lot of task list to finish and many times, in a short time. Having too many to do list while also still have to manage the team and distribute the tasks to the appointed people, is not an easy job. It does not require any special skills, but it requires high attention, patience, managerial skills to deal with many different types of people under me, while also a skill to get the jobs done well. All the task lists to prepare an event, are importantly the same so it gets confusing sometimes on which ones that should be done first.
Having done and prepared so many events, this industry teaches me a lot on how to prioritize things. From my experiences of working in the event industry, I learned a lot on how to see all the task lists then analyze which one should come first to one another. I also learn that not all ideas will be applicable and many times I need to adjust what the event really need, what can be improved, which ideas can be implemented right away and which one can be implemented next time due to the time limit.
5. Know how to not panic over problems
A combination of knowing that I have so many tasks list to be done, while also dealing with people who already don’t have enough patience anymore, in order to stop the fire first, this industry teaches me a lot how not to panic. During the events, I knew exactly that when everyone else was panicking, my additional panic won’t help at all. Not saying that I never got angry and lose control during events, sometimes I did, over the things that I had prepared well and had prepared my team well on how to handle it but still went wrong over a small mistake.
But 1 thing that I learn a lot from this industry and also I think I have gained the skill to implement it is how not to panic when an issue is going on. Regardless of how my face and expression would look at that time (because simply I cannot see my own face during that time), I mostly prioritized to just do the work and solve the issue. On another side, a good thing to remember if you’re a newbie in this industry is that working in events drains your energy A LOT. I mean like…. A HUGE LOT. So why should you waste some couple extra energies you have to be panic and yell at other people? Save up some of your energy, dear :)
Dance it all off.
One thing that I always tried to remind my team is to still try enjoying the show. When we’re working on the event, we only focus on how to make the events run smooth and sometimes even forget ourselves to enjoy our hard work, the event itself. It is important to love the things you do.
The event industry is not an easy industry to deal with. If you’re about to enter this industry, my only 1 advise to you if I am capable of giving it is that make sure you love events or doing events. Because if not, it will be torture for you. Working in events require huge patience in dealing with all the stress, endless sleepless nights, dealing with people even though you don’t like them, good physical strength, and good communication skill. Because trust me, once you can’t communicate well with people or your team, your works will be a lot heavier. So, love the work first and dance it all off :)