Corporate Event Management and Chaos

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Corporate Event Management and Chaos

Airport, India. Managing through chaos: corporate event management

Mumbai Train Station. Managing through chaos: corporate event management

I just returned from India, and am still processing all the typical western reactions to the country: the chaos, the traffic, the crowds. But one thing that stuck with me was a brass plaque in my hotel’s elevator. It quoted Benjamin Franklin: “Never confuse motion with action.” [tweet this] And in the corporate event management industry (and in India), it’s a good mantra to live by.

How often have we encountered people who believe that if they’re running around, making a lot of motion, they’re getting t

hings accomplished? So many people think if they’re amped up, they’re somehow doing something more valuable, solving the problem more quickly, or caring more. But of course, the truth is usually quite the opposite.

Someone’s seated at the wrong table and suddenly there are five people hovering around her, trying to help but really causing more confusion. If just one person instead of five had handled this with subtlety and grace, would anyone have noticed she was seated at the wrong place? But our instinct is to do something, anything.

And things get worse.

This meme goes back to my own personal mantra, “never run.” It was an event planning lesson I learned from the legendary event planner Ellen Proxmire, who planned JFK’s inaugural ball. But other great ladies have hewed to the same theme. Not too long ago, I heard Condoleeza Rice say that during her time as Secretary of State, she learned how important it was not to “walk around with her hair on fire.”

The fact is, it’s rare for a corpoate event to go off without a hitch. At the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars wine and lunch pairing, the kitchen burned down two days before the event. But we got through it. As event planners, we can make those road bumps bigger or smaller based on how we react to them.


  1. Have a plan, and a checklist, but know that they’re not immutable. Life happens, plans change. Be ready to be flexible. [tweet this]
  2. It’s good to have friends. And not just for moral support. Throughout my experience as an event planner, when things have gone wrong, my connections have been instrumental to problem solving.
  3. Maintain perspective. Sure, you want everything to go perfectly. But remember, the perfect that you have in your mind may not be the perfect your guests have in theirs. Pay attention to detail, but don’t be wedded to your own vision in the face of the unexpected. [tweet this]
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