I have always loved hearing, creating, and telling stories. As a child, a good story often over took my thoughts and I’d daydream myself into new worlds and unseen adventures.
Storytelling is an essential part of how we make sense of ourselves, our communities, and our world. Over the course of history, the art of storytelling has helped preserve our cultures, awaken our minds to unexplored perspectives, and has allowed us to try on big dreams and explore new horizons.
As a communications professional, you get it. It’s your job to bring that art into your work. Every time you crack open that laptop, or like me, sharpen that pencil, you prepare to tell a story. You understand what it means to bring a story to life. You see the impact when listeners, readers, partners, donors, or the public pick up on, and are impacted by, the stories you tell.
As an event planning coach, I get it too. It’s my job to help in-house and do-it-yourself planners embrace the art of storytelling as they craft an event plan. I believe treating your event plan as story to be developed and experienced can help you effectively share the essence of your business, organization, or group with audience. If done well, your event can become a window into who you are and why you exist.
Are you planning a gala, AGM, conference, or a team building activity? It doesn’t matter what the occasion, every event you plan tells a story. Tells YOUR story. What will your audience see, feel, hear? Will it be a thriller, a romance, or a comedy? Will it be a drama, a nail-biter, or a horror that everyone will try to forget? It’s your job to choose, create, and craft the story of your event. But how?
Learning to plan your event as you would craft a story might seem tricky, but the same principles apply. Here are a 5 ways you can start crafting your event to delight, intrigue, inform and inspire – from start to finish.
Determine Your Purpose
Start with your end goal in mind. A clear purpose will help you and your team stay on track as you plan your agenda and activities. You might want to share how your company is cutting edge and not afraid of taking a risk. Choose a thriller. Maybe you’d like to encourage the community to engage with your cause in a deeper way. A romance might be the way to go. Simply want to have fun and entertain your guests? A comedy would be a perfect choice.
Map Your Plot
Your story begins long before the day of the event. Spending time on the process and plan is important to be sure you have maximized the impact from the start of the planning cycle, right through to the tear down and follow up. How you craft you message, graphics, and agenda will all feed into the story you are telling about your company and its culture and significance in the community. Knowing the direction of your plot will help you stay true to your path and clear where your planning team should spend their time.
Embrace Diverse Characters
It may not always be easy, but your planning team will be made up of people that don’t think the same, talk the same, have the same motivation, or even execute on a task in the same way. Ahh, such is the challenge – and beauty – of an event planning team. If you embrace the differences your characters bring to your story, you will be able to see the benefit of a diverse team. Get clear on what needs to be done, engage your team in unique ways, and bring them into the story. Then set them free to contribute in ways that help move your story along.
Mange the Crisis
No good story is free of crisis. And I would say no good event will be free of it either. When you are pushing the envelope, heads will knock. When you are working hard to craft a meaningful story, opinions will clash. When planning members disagree, you might find yourself at an impasse. Understand this is part of a how a story unfolds. Use these planning hiccups to learn more about your team and how to best work together toward your common goal.
Resolve the Tension
If you have crafted your story well, there is a sense of relief and elation once the event day arrives. When your executive, team, and attendees have been with you in the journey they’ll also revel in the resolve your event will create. All the work that has gone in to planning the agenda and activities has been worth it. Now is the time to enjoy – and celebrate! When your team asks to create a sequel, you know you’ve done your job well.
Every event has twists and turns, points of calm and crisis, and a variety of characters gracing it’s narrative. What I know to be true is that whatever the event, your best result will be realized when you employ the art of the story in your planning.
I can’t wait to read yours!
ABOUT LISA GAREAU
As the founder of Candy Event Consulting : Making Your Team Stronger, Lisa works with her tenacious team and dynamic partners to provide to coaching, workshops, and resources for ANYONE planning or promoting events for their business, organization, or group.
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