I recently hosted an event which I was the lead organizer of. I was telling my mom about this event, and I said to her: “this is probably why I’m not married yet. I don’t want to plan a wedding”. Why? Because, it’s a lot of work to plan an event like that. I can only imagine what planning a wedding would be like, and it would probably be much more intense than my event was.
Planning an event can be stressful, whether you’re an introvert or not. And no matter what, there are some funny challenges with putting these events together. People are funny and do “funny” things especially when it’s time to make a decision, or work in a team. And just imagine what happens when a team has to make decisions.
Some funny challenges I came across while planning a recent event were: hearing peoples “reasons” for not being able to attend, an un-planned sporting event, and being the leader (the one in charge of it all). Maybe you can identify with some of these things.
“Reasons” and Excuses for not attending
Some were reasons, others sounded more like excuses (some of these may be embellished):
- My aquafit class is on that day/ my personal trainer is only available at that exact time on that day
- I’m washing my hair that day/ that’s the day I shower
- I have practice for my ancient war re-enactment
- The circus is in town
- Is it raining that day? I’ll probably get something because of the rain, so I don’t want to say “yes” and then end up not being able to come
- I need an invitation, in person, and it needs to be written in gold-leaf
- I have other things planned for that evening
- I don’t drink beer
- I wouldn’t know what to wear
- I’m not going to anything that “So-and-So” might be at
- I don’t like laughing (nobody said this – just imagine – somebody not liking laughing)
- Will there be food? I’m only coming if there’s food.
- I might want to watch that sporting event I don’t normally show interest in
- I never miss a sporting-event that’s on TV. It gives me anxiety.
- I have something else planned for that evening
- I’m waiting to see if that thing I’d rather do is happening (not that this event is bad, I just like this other thing better)
What some excuses say to me is that many of us have issues with commitment. People will commit to marrying someone, but giving up an entire evening for a special event? That’s too much.
What excuses or reasons have you heard before? Has anyone ever told you to your face that they simply don’t want to attend your event? Usually, people have enough tact to make something up.
There may be sporting events that happen, which you have no interest in whatsoever on a regular day, but because the rest of the world around you is obsessed with it (even though some of them normally don’t care about it either), you have to know about it and be ready for it. Be prepared for questions like: Q: “Is the event still happening as planned”?
A: “Yes it is. The league did not consult me to see whether they could have their game on this day. I asked them to move game-day, but since they knew I didn’t watch a game all season, they wouldn’t change the date.
Q: “Is it okay if we leave now?”
A: “You want to go watch the rest of the game don’t you…? Okay, see you at Christmas.”
Being a Leader
I’ve heard it said that leadership is not a title, it’s an action. It might be a series of actions, and it sometimes it looks and feels like herding cats. Have you ever tried to take one cat on a walk? I know there are some cats out there that are trained to walk on leashes, and walk in straight line. My cat will walk on a leash, but not in a straight line. Basically I’m just there at the other end of the line to make sure he doesn’t escape.
Anyway, back to leadership. Since it can be so difficult to walk even one cat, imagine trying to get them all together, all walking in straight lines toward the same bird/ squirrel/ chipmunk. What if one of them has a preference for the type of small animal/ bird they’d like to chase? What if they only chase birds on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the rest of the week they chase chipmunks, except for Saturday afternoons when they prefer squirrels and Sunday mornings when they are recovering from chasing things? This is what leading people can be like, ties one-hundred.
When leading people while planning an event, team-members need to express their opinions on the leader’s (that’s me) vision as well; how it should be executed, when they’re available to meet, what they could be getting out of the project themselves (it has to be something, even if it’s just because they owe you a favour). This dynamic involves a bit of juggling, perceptiveness that borders on mind-reading, and toughness (without getting violent). Asking for things, especially from strangers can be a challenging tasks for introverts. Rather than ask someone else to do it, it’s a lot more comfortable if we just do it ourselves; even if it’s more work for us. I got better at asking for things as the event-planning went along. If a team-member had a great idea, I said “Great! Can you take care of that for me? You’re the best!” This strategy works well if you’re an introvert who is also a bit sensitive to stress – if you’re someone who if there is one more thing put on your plate, you’ll lose your grip and drop the whole plate. Get your team to bring more plates, put some stuff on their plates, and let them walk away with it. Don’t let them come back without their plates being empty and waiting for more!
One thing I learned about leadership while planning this event was that you know you’re doing a good job of leading if people will do things for you and for the team not because they owe you anything, but because they want to. Cats and people are similar this way. They do things because they want to. If you believe in your vision and offer solid leadership, others will believe in it too, you will be able to get these cats to walk straight to your event and they will have a great time!
While planning an event like this can be stressful, and pushes us introverts into uncomfortable situations, we learn that we can handle things as they come up. A (possibly hidden) sense of humour is a great asset here as well. That sporting event that threatens to derail your event: Make fun of it! Are people making excuses? Make fun of those excuses (with your team), and get your team going in a positive direction again. Using humour is a great way to keep the team from being dragged down by potential disappointments or obstacles, and gives them energy to try again. A good laugh with the organizing team makes everyone feel more positive about the process and lightens the whole team’s mood. Seeing the funny side not only makes the disappointments less, but it also makes the wins shine even brighter and smiles spread across faces: which is especially important if your event is about comedy, like mine was.
Do you have any funny stories to share about organizing an event? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
Photo courtesy Mike Chai via Pexels