How is it already February?! At the risk of sounding cliché, time does fly. While many are rightfully celebrating the rewards of 2015, it’s also important to take a moment and regroup from the challenges of the past year. In the same way we celebrate our successes, we learn a lot from the moments that push us outside of our comfort zone, to ultimately work harder and smarter.

Let’s hear from some of the Event 360 team on their greatest lessons learned in 2015.

Dave Kramer, Event Production Manager
It takes a team – internal, external, at home, and beyond. I learned that lesson long ago during my varied volunteer and professional experiences, and it was again brought to the forefront of my mind as 2015 came to a close.

When building events and their related communities, you’ll always achieve a superior outcome with the right team on board. Creating, refining, growing, detailing, and operating with active players allows greater bandwidth across the project and less room for missing prime opportunities. The team is there to keep everyone honest, on track, and headed in the same direction. When all is said and done, sharing in success as well as failure creates greater room to grow for all involved, and most importantly for an improved event in the years to come.

Cheryl Stern, Brand Manager for MuckFest® MS
In 2015, I had the unique opportunity to move on from a long-time client project and begin work on an event totally new to me. So, one of my biggest lessons learned is that, while every client, every constituent base, and every event is truly unique, it’s so important to SHARE the lessons learned on each – so every project can benefit from the knowledge gained on others. When you discover the need for some new directional signage on one event, chances are there are other projects that could also benefit. When you see that participants get really excited about a piece of swag or an engagement activity on one event, how can you repurpose those ideas (while still keeping things fresh) on a different event? Have a fundraising or teambuilding campaign that worked really well on one project? How can you harness and recreate that success? Have a stellar vendor that delivered a great product/service for one of your events? See how you can engage them on other projects!

Molly Fast, Local Operations Director
We’ve all been playing around in social media for a while and it’s always good to remember that you should never post something in your social community that you don’t want everyone in the world to see. Privacy settings only go so far. I learned this lesson the hard way this year (no, I’m not sharing details!), but it was an important reminder to be more careful with my actions – both in person and in the social sphere.

Kat Thomas, Event Production Manager
Nimble –  one of the biggest lessons learned for me (or I was reminded of) is that you always need to be nimble in the event world. If your original volunteer recruitment plan isn’t bringing in the numbers you need, change it. An obstacle needs a little change to maximize efficiency, update it. It’s when you’re able to be nimble and listen to your participants and volunteers that you’ll be able to deliver the best possible event.

Robin Shapiro, Volunteer Operations Manager
You know how when you are sitting on an airplane getting ready to take off the flight attendants give the safety speech and say, “Make sure to secure your own mask before helping others?” I never gave that statement much thought until I was a parent. After becoming a parent I realized that they have to say that because it is our instinct as parents to take care of the children before ourselves. In the midst of an event relocation due to bad weather this year, I learned that this applies to us as event professionals as well. While it may be my instinct to take care of the participants’ needs before my own, it serves neither them nor me well when I do that. When a tornado watch and imminent thunderstorms caused us to have to close the route early on Saturday and relocate the campsite for the Twin Cities 3-Day, my job was to sweep the route and persuade the walkers to get on Sweep vans before the thunderstorms hit. I arrived at the final pit stop with adrenaline pumping, eager to quickly move forward and sweep the rest of the walkers to camp. A wise co-worker asked when I had last eaten and recommended that I grab a snack, sit down to eat it, and pay the portable toilets a visit before moving forward. Although we had limited time to get the walkers to safety, I followed that advice and was much better for it. So were the participants. The five minutes I took to refuel and rest settled my adrenaline and fueled me up for the long hours of work ahead. I was able to approach participants with a calmer demeanor than I would have if I were hungry or had a full bladder. I was also able to pitch in to help with the relocation as soon as I got to camp rather than having to slip out right away to get something to eat. Tension runs high when we have to make quick decisions, deliver difficult messages and mobilize people quickly. I learned one thing we can do to ease our own tension is to make sure that our masks are secure before jumping into action.

Katie Zupancic , Consumer Marketing Manager for MuckFest® MS
In 2015, one of my biggest learnings as a marketer was how important it is to register and do your own event the way you market it to potential registrants. In the past, I’ve tested parts of the MuckFest MS course, but last year was the first time I recruited a team of friends to run with me. Team Zup’s Troops, which was 12 muckers strong, completed the Chicago course in our matching team shirts in the 11 a.m. wave to more laughter than I thought was possible. Though I knew all of the obstacles by heart and have seen thousands upon thousands of photos of the course, I saw the event in an entirely new light by being a member of a team.

I finished the course with a much stronger knowledge of how to market my event – by completing the event as a participant on a team, it helped guide my messaging and creative recommendations to focus on the experience of the event, not just individual event elements.

Slade Thompson, Sr. Manager, Event Production
Keep playing “what if…” and be prepared to be flexible. You may think you’ve prepared for every possible scenario but live events can always surprise you. That’s what I love about event work. Have you ever considered what you would do if your on-event office started on fire at the peak time of your event? Me either, until I found myself in this situation in 2015. Stay tuned for a blog on this subject.

Always know where your assets and people are. As many of our events involve significant nationwide travel it’s important to remain mindful of possible disruptions where you least expect them. Of course there are the inevitable weather delays, but also if your staff are spread out over a wide area, some may be unknowingly facing approaching severe storms while others are enjoying a beautiful, sunny day. It’s your job to ensure everyone is informed and safe no matter where they are. And what if some of your key supplies are delayed due to transportation strikes, or the rental equipment you reserved months ago is diverted for emergency natural disaster responses?

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As you can tell, it was a busy, yet very successful year for the Event 360 team. Hopefully the lessons we’ve shared can help as you move forward for the rest of 2016 and beyond.

In the meantime, please take a moment and hit the comments below to share some of your own professional lessons learned last year. We’d love to hear – and learn – from you!

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