One of the best ways to look at developing an effective communication plan for your event is to think about how many times (and ways) you need to say something to your husband/son/daughter/parents/boss/dog/ before he/she/they comprehend your message. Then think about how long it takes before they react to what you’ve said.
Are you with me now? Good, because communication — at a minimum — is a two-way street between the speaker and the recipient.
Have you ever walked into a ballroom with your CSM for the final pre-check and wondered why there’s no lectern onstage or, worse yet, no stage at all? Or maybe everyone will be staring at the hotel logo on the lectern instead of your company signage? Maybe you forgot to communicate that little piece of information to the right people? Or, maybe, you requested it while on the phone running through a hundred other last-minute details but didn’t doublecheck the final event resume they presented at yesterday’s tie-down meeting.
If this has ever happened to you, now might be a good time to review your communication process.
Before we get to a nitty-gritty list of tips, you need to identify with whom you must communicate and how often this action needs to take place. Let’s assume you’re the savvy lead planner from whom all information flows and that your voice will be heard far and wide. This means it’s up to you to think about all parties involved — staff members, executives, vendors, suppliers, attendees, spouses, etc. – and develop a good flow of communication.
You might want to develop an internal document that mirrors the hotel resume. If you do, make sure you update it only once a week. Do it more often and no one will pay attention. If you’ll be printing a hard copy, make sure the pages are numbered; changes are dated/subcategorized and/or printed on different colored paper so your team knows at a glance which document is current.
Make sure your document contains a comprehensive list of these items:
- Names, titles and contact information for all involved parties inside and outside your company staff.
- Event name/theme/goals or mission purpose, ALWAYS with the date of said event in big, bold letters. (This is especially important if you have multiple events going on simultaneously and lots of the same players on each team.)
- An outline of pertinent dates leading up to the event. Examples include print and shipping deadlines that involve many key players; marketing and promotion deadlines; food guarantee due dates, etc. The more you share multiple deadlines with other departments the more likely they are to understand the need for cooperation when it’s their turn to supply you with input.
A comprehensive communication plan can include many things depending on the size and scope of your project and your company or client. Remember that to be read, it must be manageable! If it’s too large no one will read it; if you give it to people or departments with no vested interest, they won’t pay attention when you really need them.
You must also look at the overall picture of who needs what and when. Attendees need details for hotels, travel, packing. They need it early enough to comply with hotel rooming deadlines. Vendors and suppliers have a particular set of needs. Your staff and executives must be briefed. The list goes on and on.
There are different levels and milestones for your communication. A good rule of thumb is to start gathering details for your documents — the who, what, when, where, why and how — as soon as an event is booked. Continue updating and sharing the information until show time.
Remember when your mother repeated herself incessantly to get you to clean your room or do your homework? Now it’s your turn.
Next: MBEC 4.07 — Develop evaluation/audit procedures
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