I couldn’t figure out a better phrase to describe what I want to discuss than ‘event planning’. However, let me state it here that I’m not referring to the profession of event planning. I know there are all those big time event planners like ‘Bella weddings’ is it? I have no idea how those kinda guys operate, how could I possibly write about it? I’m here to discuss the layman you and I who decide to host an event and automatically proclaim ourselves the chief planner. We’ve probably all done that. Birthday parties, shows, hangout, picnics etc. with varying degrees of frequency and success.
I’m going to be using two of my experiences in such matters as my case study. Let me categorically state that these are solely from my personal experiences and might not be the same for others. I’m no pro. I’m sure I did a lot of things wrong that backfired. Disclaimer out!
The two events I planned are luckily on opposite sides of the moral pendulum. While one was a Gospel show in a church promoting religion, one was an all-night party promoting debauchery. Hey! Don’t judge me.
It keeps you up at Night.
As a graphic designer (and fiction writer) I have a voraciously creative imagination. It’s a good thing, trust me, especially as a versatile artist like I claim to be. The issue, however, is that there’s a wide gap between what is imagined and what is real. Most a times, it’s nearly impossible to reach the level of creativity my imaginations ascribe. Lucky for me, I’m a realist too so I try to balance out the imaginations and see what can or cannot be achieved. The problem is that when you have a big event at hand to plan for, imaginations keep running through your brain. Some good, some outright useless. Sometimes it’s imaginations on previous imaginations. Everyone wants to success. The thinking on how to make a planned event a success is terrible. The gospel show I planned, which took place last week, had my mind actively working for like two weeks straight prior to the event which was a good thing because my mind had been idle for too long and you all know the saying ‘An idle mind is the……..’ The annoying part was at nights when I was supposed to be watching a movie and then some stupid idea starts coming in, distracting me, or when I’m trying to sleep. At some point, I was like, let this show come and go abeg so I can have my head back.
Reality can be a B**tch
Still on the falls of creative imagination. Let me say it clearer, reality can be a bitch *Drops coin in the swear jar*. After sifting through imaginations on what can and can’t be done, when it comes to the time of actualizing what you thought possible and realistic, there’s almost certainly going to be a snag along the way. Sometimes it really isn’t your fault. For the show we had planned a month in advance for an awareness rally a week to the event. How were we to know that the FG would move the presidential election to that particular weekend? Or like the party I planned, which was a signing out party in my compound for us Corpers there, was supposed to be a day before our passing out party, and then for some devilish reason, the CDS presidents decided to put the official sendforth party- which we all had already paid for-on that same day. Thus our party had to be rescheduled. Sometimes it’s the work of nature. A useless storm shows up on the d-day and prevents half your guests from setting foot outside their homes.
I don’t know. Maybe the pros at event planning prepare in advance for any possible contingencies like Chess where they say you should plan three moves ahead. I’m not a Chess player, neither am I a professional Event manager, neither are you, I suspect.
Assistance is a Mirage.
People love to be a part of ‘planning’ especially for something big. In both of my case studies, I had people even outside the planning region offering to be a part of it. For instance, the party (Maybe due to me, my neighbours and my compound’s street cred at the time) had the auspice of being probably the hottest Corper party of our Batch in the State. So, when we started talking about it and some people heard, even people that didn’t stay in the compound started offering assistance and ideas. Some even joined in the financial contributions. Likewise when I proposed doing a ‘dope’ gospel show in my church, unlike anything previously seen before in the town, we had friends from other churches butting in, attending rehearsals with us, joining us in publicity and stuffs like that. Bottom line is, people love to be able to say ‘We are having a show,’ or ‘We are having a party.’ The keyword is ‘we’. Some egotists might even go as far as replacing the ‘we’ with ‘I’.
And honestly it’s not a bad thing at all to have many people involved. It’s even a very good thing in that it helps the publicity, generates more ideas, generates more assistance etc. The problem however is that on the D-day, most of the people who are supposed to be co-planning have the tendency of disappearing into the crowd of onlookers or guests. And then all of a sudden, you are left alone with maybe a select few bunch if zealots, to run around and see that everything happens smoothly. During the aforementioned party, all my fellow male organizers sighted girls they had been ‘targeting’ for a while and went after them, completely abandoning all else.
Division of Labor can easily become Multiplication
If I’ve learnt anything from my harrowing experiences it is that division of labor is overly needed while planning. The mistake I’ve made so far is that I don’t specifically assign people to specific posts and detail exactly what I expect them to do. Mostly I and whoever is planning with me just outline the duties necessary and then sometimes tell each other what we expect from them. On the said day, the others either completely forget what they are meant to do leaving a bulk part to you the chief planner, or get confused as to what is expected of them and come to inquire of you. Either way, the labor can easily get multiplied in your direction. You have to be specific with what you want each individual to do, let them know their exact duties before the event.
The Entertainment is Never for You.
This is to me, the worst tendency of chief-planning an event. The greatest fun you can hope to get from it, is it being successful, from having a huge turn up (Like ‘project x’), from people giving positive comments, etc. But, as the chief organizer, you are unlikely to catch any entertainment from the show itself. The party I’ve been speaking of, I can hardly remember dancing (And I love dancing) because while others were having fun, I was either sharing drinks (or coordinating the drinks sharing), sharing something else, trying to get people to mingle, separating fights (this was the most annoying) or at the later part, trying to see people safely got to where they could pass the night. The gospel show was nearly the same. I didn’t get to really watch any performance for one reason or the other. At the end, you’ll hear people commenting about how great a show it was and the only joy you’ll have would be that of planning it, not witnessing it. After the party and the show had ended, I found myself sitting down staring at the then empty expanse that had just a few hours ago housed multitudes and all I could think was ‘What just happened?’
Anyway, all these downsides are all negligible compared to the main advantage of hosting an event, which is that during that period of time, everyone in that vicinity- co-planners and guests alike- are under your explicit control.