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What would you guess are the five most stressful jobs in the world?
I’d bet you can guess most of them: firefighter, military personnel, police officer, airline pilot. But the fifth most stressful job in the world might surprise you. That is, unless, you’re an event planner…
For the sixth year running, event planning has been ranked as one of the most stressful jobs on Earth. This year, CareerCast has pegged “event coordinator” at #5 on their list of stressful jobs—just slightly less stressful than running into burning buildings.
CareerCast uses an 11-point stress-factor methodology and ranks each factor on a scale to determine the amount of stress a worker can predict to experience in any given job. When you look at the categories (amount of travel, working in the public eye, meeting the public, and deadlines), it’s easy to see why event coordinators make the list.
While event planners may not be putting out literal fires, they are certainly dealing with their fair share of potential “disasters.”
Event coordinators, we can do better! That’s not a list we want to be on. Let’s take some of those common stressors and discuss some realistic solutions.
Here’s three primary stressors and suggested shifts to help raise the consciousness of event coordinators and see that ranking fall in 2018.
The event coordinator serves as the conduit of information between the client or host organization, speakers (often VIPs), participants, vendors, and event staff. Stress creeps in as the planner works to meet the expectations of every stakeholder and ensure that the planning process does not devolve into a game of telephone. An event planner knows that he or she is responsible for synthesizing everyone’s ideas to achieve the overall vision. This leads to a heightened sense of vigilance, organization, and possibly, the need to “control” the process.
Attitude Shift: Communicate Dynamically
Communication can break down when our expectations do not match the outcome. Before planning begins, instead of expectations, co-author agreements. Agree on “who’s who” and collaborate within your work group to define responsibilities for every stakeholder. Once the agreement has been outlined share it internally and externally with vendors and partners. As the planning begins, consider the most effective method to relay messages or information, be it a phone call, e-mail, or in-person meeting. No matter the method of communication, sharpen your listening skills and hear what is truly being said. With collaborative agreements made early on, the work group will be proud to do their part and effectively bring the vision of the event to life.
Stressor: Physical Demands & Deadlines
You have been planning for weeks, months, or maybe even up to a year. As the planner, you have calculated the risks, walked the space, coordinated the setup, selected the menu, curated the content, drafted the agenda, rehearsed the content, and tested the A/V. You intimately know every detail and now, it’s time to roll.
The event coordinator is often the primary point of contact the day(s) of the event. Stress factors here include the need to always be “on” and hyper-vigilance. Perhaps, however, the largest contributor is time. Planners are often the first ones in and the last ones out, resulting in 12 to 16-hour work days.
During that time, planners may not have the opportunity to eat or sit down.
Read the rest of our tips for a happy career in event planning on Catalyst, our meeting, event, and workplace blog!