Thursday, October 6, 2016

An Introvert's Guide to Event Planning

Perhaps, like me, you’ve started an arts ministry at your church. You’ve had an idea – a Most Wonderful Idea. You shall plan a Grand Event – a special treat – which will be a blessing to Everyone.* Good for you! But now you have to actually plan it and make it happen, and if you’re a hard-core introvert like me, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

1. Booking agents are not introverts.

When I decided to check into bringing Ginny Owens to Portland, I got in touch with her booking agency to see what it would entail. I did this via email. They responded by asking when (not if) I’d like to talk on the phone.

Thankfully, after six years in the Air Force, I know how to pretend Scary Things are no big deal. The phone call was made, followed by a series of calls and emails until a mutual commitment was reached, at which point communications were handed off to Ms. Owens’ management team, which was much more email friendly. Bottom line: when dealing with booking agents, be prepared to speak verbally to an actual human being in real-time.

2. Getting permission will require you to interact with people.

At some point, I found out I would have to get permission from my church’s Elder Board. By presenting the Most Wonderful Idea at an Elder Board meeting. I made a decision early on not to panic.

My advice: do your homework.

In my case, this involved vetting Ms. Owens as thoroughly as possible,** figuring out how much the event was likely to cost in total,^ and making sure I could articulate my justifications for the event. It was still nerve-wracking, but imagine how terrifying it would’ve been had I not prepared.

3. Get someone else to do the marketing.

You’re an introvert. You’re not a salesman. You don’t want to make cold calls, or show up to places uninvited. You’d rather send emails. Problem is, even if your unsolicited email gets past the spam filters, the recipient probably won’t read it. I learned that the hard way.

You will have to interact with people, over the phone and in person. Next time, I’m going find an extrovert who shares my passion, and cut them loose. They’ll probably market the event far better than I could, and it will save me a lot of tiring people-work.

4. Be flexible.

As the Grand Event approaches, you’ll have to loosen up a bit. By all means, try to get accurate information on All The Things, but don’t expect answers to everything, and be prepared for changes. I figured once Ms. Owens and her band arrived, it was their show, and my job was just to go with the flow and do whatever they needed. That tactic worked pretty well.

Oh, and don’t forget: since you’re “The Promoter,” you’ll probably have to introduce your guests to your audience. Likely with a microphone.


5. Prepare to crash.

You know it’ll happen: it always does. When I went to the Oregon Christian Writers’ Summer Conference, I made sure I had nothing on my schedule for several days afterward, and it was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.

Your Grand Event may not involve quite that much socializing, but consider this: on top of Interacting with People, you will also be running around making sure All The Things are being taken care of. Don’t do what I did and neglect to plan a few days of Nothingness directly following your event. I paid for that oversight. I crashed hard.

6. Thank your volunteers.

I found out it's difficult to track them down later, so I recommend writing your thank-you notes before the event and handing them out day-of.

7. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

Hopefully, between your meticulous research and your well-thought-out planning, you won’t be stressed out come event day, but you will be busy. When you finally take your seat, take a moment to marvel at the fact that the Grand Event is actually happening, then sit back and watch it unfold.

It will all have been so incredibly worth it.

*See all those caps? They are there on purpose. They convey Enthusiasm.

**You know – on the off chance that she was secretly a heretic. (She’s not.)

^My estimate turned out to be satisfyingly accurate.

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