Four days. 400 participants. Over 40 facilitators. A dozen different locations on one giant property. Countless amounts of materials. Chaos could easily ensue.
All of the statements above were true aspects of the event I worked in California last week. It was a mega event with lots of components. Now, I’ve worked events before but nothing like this. It was unreal how my team operated like a fine-oiled machine. Literally, everyone knew where they were supposed to be, what was going on and what was happening next. How does such a large-scale event go off without any real catastrophes? Here’s my take on that answer.
- Prep Work: Before anyone stepped foot on the beautiful grounds in California, we reviewed a lifesaving document that broke down the week day by day. Each day listed the sessions occurring, who was in charge, who was helping, the materials needed, the location and the time frame. This thing was the Bible for the week. If you had a question, you just checked the spreadsheet to find the answer. No need to bother anyone else. It was the main reason why our team functioned so well.
- Plans on Plans on Plans: There was a contingency plan for technology issues, weather issues and anything else you can think of. We even had ponchos for every participant ready to go in case the skies opened up. Every ‘what if’ situation was considered and possible solutions were evaluated all before the event took place. A detailed crisis communications plan was sent to the entire team the week before as well. Everyone was familiar with protocol and knew what steps to take in specific situations.
- Devil’s in the Details: The attention to detail was evident in every aspect of the program. From the type of seating at open session, to the layout of each dinner, everything was intentional and was thought about beforehand. It was also clear who the target audience was throughout the program. You knew you were dealing with millennials based off of songs played, topics discussed and games selected. In my opinion, this was the most crucial part of why the program was/is successful. Conscious decisions were made in order to deliver the best possible program for attendees. Without every detail, small or large, the experience would not be the same.
- Common Purpose: Our entire team, internal and external members, believed in the goals of the event. Each member was passionate about executing a meaningful program that would impact participants. That passionate was contagious and kept everyone motivated and energized.
I am so fortunate to have worked on such a giant event this early in my career. There were so many things I learned; the above list is just the most important. What do you think makes large-scale events successful? Add to my list!