In my blog post Event Planning- Who’s the Boss, I discuss all of the different people who could be involved in the decision making process in an event, including volunteer committees, administrative staff and boards. As we all know, complications can easily arise when you have too many cooks in the kitchen, but this blog will focus solely on supporting the ultimate decision maker.
One of the reasons that the decision maker hired an event planner is because they require support in areas that are not their strength. My job as an event planner is to offer support and guidance to the decision maker and their team to help them make the best decisions for their event. They have hired us because we are the experts and they trust our guidance and opinions. Keep in mind that these decision makers are likely very busy people, who are volunteering to chair the event or might have multiple responsibilities and the event is only a small part of their job. Below are some suggestions for how to support the decision maker in keeping your event on track:
1. Determine the best line of communication. Perhaps they are completely overwhelmed with emails already and would prefer a quick phone call to make a decision. Or they spend half their day on conference calls already so they would prefer a concise email. Either way, find out how they prefer to communicate and reach out to them that way.
2. Anticipate their questions in advance. Being the busy person that they are, you need to ensure that you are respecting the value of their time. That means anticipating any questions they may ask. This will make for an easier decision making process as many of their questions will have been answered in advance and you can quickly move on to the next task.
3. Comparison charts. Make it easy for them to make a decision by clearly presenting their options. This takes the stress out of making a decision. For example, if they have asked you for three quotes for audiovisual services, don’t just send them each quote for them to dissect. Do the dissecting yourself and make a quick comparison chart laying out all of their options.
4. Stick to the critical path. The critical path is created to help keep you on track. Make them aware of the decisions coming up each month and provide them with a date that a decision needs to be made. They will appreciate the reminder and that the event is staying on track. Depending on the decision maker you may even decide to put exact due dates in the critical path or you might send calendar invites to remind them that a decision needs to be made.
5. Offer your expert opinion. The decision maker is heavily relying on your expert experience to make decisions. Be sure to share past experiences with them, whether they be negative or positive to help them come to a decision. For example, when making a comparison chart for audio visual services you may know that one provider comes in much lower on price but you also know that the reason they are coming in lower is because of the lower quality equipment they use and that their staff have poor training. This is something you would share with the decision maker before they make their decision.
Remember, the job of an event planner is to support the decision maker and use your expertise to help them create an amazing event!