I just ran across this old post (don't ask!) on Jessica Levin's Driving Your Business, Relationships and Life Through Experiential Marketing and Delicious Cuisine blog, and it cracked me up. So of course, I had to share.
The true event-planning timeline: It begins like so...
Weeks 52 to 8 before conference = Do nothing, because no one mentioned it to the events planning team.
Weeks 8 to 6 before= attempt frantically to get some guideline from your client as to number of attendees, acceptable locations, budget, flow, agenda, gifts, speakers, print collateral, invitations, registration....
* source 10 locations in the Northeast, then 10 on the West coast, then five in Chicago as your client changes their mind.
* bug the chain of command to sign off on the meeting so that you can actually book one of the 92 locations who now have your specs.
* Develop your ability to say key phrases like "Of course I can check New York for this December - you're ok with a $550 room rate, right?" without flinching.
Weeks 6 to 4 before = repeat above
* give up on your client making decisions about the speakers because they're focused on the design of the invitation and the $3 giveaway.
* automatically hit "delete" on the 324 emails that come to you from potential attendees asking when they can register, because you have nowhere near enough information to setup your online registration.
Here's the rest. Or you can make up your own--what would you say happens during weeks 4-2, 2-1, and less than a week out?
Update: I just ran across this (thanks Julia!), "the real six phases of event management (adapted from project management)," by William O'Toole, Events Development Specialist with Event Project Management System:
1. Despair: No work, empty horizon
2. Enthusiasm: Awarded a contract
3. Disillusionment: Realised the full amount of work involved
4. Confusion: Desperately seeking suppliers, venues...
5. Panic: Ran out of time, money, friends, and hoping the event is working
6. Evaluate: Sacrifice of the innocent and promotion of the non-participant