Identify and overcome the fears that are holding you back from being a more successful event professional.
Fear exists, there’s no point pretending it doesn’t. It affects even seasoned, successful event profs and while you may think it is irrational, it always stems from somewhere. Don’t let fear hinder your career efforts or prevent you from succeeding by first identifying the root cause and then addressing how best to solve it. It won’t happen overnight or get rid of the fear entirely but you will be able to push past and succeed in spite of it!
This is a particularly common fear but can often be misinterpreted because “public” doesn’t always equate to a Beyoncé concert sized audience. You could instead be afraid of talking in front of several people in meetings or addressing a room in general. Nevertheless it can hinder your career progression and hold you back. For event planners, speaking in front of groups of people tends to happen particularly when briefing people on event day. If you aren’t confident or avoid dealing with it you may not be communicating to venue staff or your team effectively, which could create problems for your event.
Fear of public speaking stems from a lack of confidence and usually a lack of experience, so in order to overcome this you need to practice. First, start small and have a conversation with two people and address them directly, steering and taking control of the conversation naturally or even sitting them down in a mock meeting. Next, progress onto a small meeting setting before speaking in front of an audience. Try not to focus on heavy planning or cue cards as this can create undue pressure if you go wrong or don’t “stick to the script”. Work your way up gradually and you’ll be addressing larger crowds in no time.
Professional baseball player, Babe Ruth, once said: “Don’t let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game.” This is true of event planning and life in general. While planning requires forethought on the potential effects of your actions and how they will be perceived, If you focus so much on the negative and the thought that you might fail, you either won’t even get started or you won’t try anything new. For event planners in particular, the industry requires innovation and using technology in inventive ways, which means there is always a risk of failure. On the other hand without taking risks you can’t push boundaries and achieve the biggest successes for you to be recognized as an unstoppable eventprof.
Unfortunately, a fear of failure can be difficult to overcome because the potential is always there nagging at the back of your mind. However, you can take steps to stop it preventing your success by focusing on each planning phase and small step in detail and recognizing that this fear is propelling you to do the best you can do. Alternatively, you could work in a team or with someone else to boost your confidence and share the responsibility in the beginning, which can make it less scary than when you have sole responsibility by yourself.
Believe it or not, you could be afraid of actually succeeding! What happens next when you reach your goals or targets? Is the success going to be everything you imagined? Or you might be concerned that you will stand out above your peers and worried about the extra attention that you might get.
Well luckily for you, successful eventprofs never stop reaching. There is no top or ceiling and once you “beat” your competition, you become the competition that everyone wants to beat, so there will always be a “something next”.
As for the haters, surround yourself with people who can celebrate your successes and ensure that you celebrate others. Just because you are competitive doesn’t mean you can’t have decent relationships with others, including the “competition”. Never forget that you worked your way to the top, it wasn’t handed to you, so you will always be able to relate to those who are struggling, after all, you’ve been there.
Breaking The Budget
Among eventprofs this is very a legitimate fear as we are often working with complex budgets or trying to achieve amazing things on an impossible shoestring budget. The client’s demands don’t always coincide with their budget and of course we don’t want our attendees to think we are cutting corners even when we do need to save money on the event. It is easy to underestimate costs or for something unexpected to come up. Keeping on track is important and more often than not you just have to get creative. There are ways to bring more tech to low budget events and plenty of virtually free event planning ideas that will save you money. It’s just a matter of prioritising what is most important to the client. If you can always keep a contingency amount in the budget of around 20%.
Stemming from low self-esteem, fearing that you won’t be good enough can be a completely unfounded concern that paralyses many. Within events it normally manifests as not feeling experienced enough for high budget or high profile events or clients which makes you doubt your decisions and choices throughout.
If you can overcome imposter syndrome you can draw your skills from other areas and do a great job. Richard Branson says “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.” This is perfect advice because there will always be a new experience or opportunity for you to show what you are made of – not being good enough is all in your head! If you want some support then look to your event team for advice or to act as a sounding board to reaffirm what you already know!
Yes, an actual fear of people or more importantly, socializing or networking with them can seriously hinder an eventprofs success because it is such an integral part of the job. Usually it stems from being an introvert or the fear of not wanting to make a fool of yourself and what other’s think of you.
Introverted event planners make brilliant event planners, they just sometimes need extra tools or space, particularly where networking and socialising are concerned. Keep in mind ice breakers and build a network of trusted vendors. Of course, new situations can be challenging and nerve-wracking but remember, you probably are not the only one to be feeling apprehensive.
If you are concerned with how you are being perceived you can always try looking at your body language and see if you are giving out subconscious cues unintentionally or discuss conversations with someone you trust and ask them how they think you have come across so that you keep yourself in check.
It can be difficult to take risks in your life and, in some ways, harder to do it with your career because it usually accounts for your livelihood. You don’t want to ruin potential career progress by making mistakes and so you opt not to take the risks at all. However, in the event industry if you want to succeed there are certain risks you need to take because it is constantly evolving and adapting and you need to keep up – or ideally stay ahead. In part, you are anticipating what attendees will want based on current events which means there is always the risk that you will miss the mark and maybe in a worst case scenario you will have to cancel your event.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the risk at all and there are ways to minimize it, for example by using your experience and trusting your gut instinct. Of course technology gives us the opportunity to intelligently collect more data and feedback to anticipate better. Not all risks are career ending or damaging but ultimately, only you can decide if the consequences are worth it.
As for ruining career progress, make sure you fully understand the consequences before you make decisions and properly interpret how you career would ACTUALLY be affected which will help you better weigh the pros, cons and risk of your decisions.
Being polite and avoiding rudeness are important, as is ensuring you come across in the right way, particularly in a people facing role such as event planning. However a fear of being offensive takes things one step further and prevents you from being honest and speaking up when things aren’t working or about to go wrong, through fear of upsetting anyone. When things go wrong it then becomes your fault because of a lack of communication on your part and can earn you a bad reputation.
With this in mind, you need to stop worrying so much about what other people think and try to be open and honest, always keeping the event outcomes front of mind. Make sure you look at things from the perspective of the colleague or client and think about how you can get your point of view across whilst ensuring that you are setting the right tone. The best way to do this is to present the facts in a matter of fact way, you definitely do not want to be perceived as complaining and moaning.
It’s a scary world out there and you never know what is going to happen, which can be crippling for some. For event planners if you opt not to take on certain projects because you don’t know how they are going to turn out or you don’t use all of the opportunities available to you then you are hindering your potential success.
You can’t know everything, nor can you predict how things turn out, all you can do in some cases is have a little faith in your own ability and of those around you to manage the situation. As an eventprof of course you try to plan for all eventualities but sometimes you simply can’t control everything. Accept that sometimes the weather will change in an instance and without warning in the middle of your outdoor event and that sometimes more attendees will turn up then invited and you will have to deal with it and accommodate them on the spot. Experience helps you to lessen this fear of the unknown and to learn to stop worrying about the things you can’t control.