Event is over, you’ve torn down everything and you’re prepared to just head off home to a nice hot shower and some much needed sleep. There’s just one problem. Well it isn’t exactly a problem because you’re a good and responsible event organizer. Nevertheless, you do have to have a post-event debrief and you do need to set the agenda for it. In this article, we consider this issue and how best to conduct this necessary evil of a meeting.
This can work two ways. Sometimes an event is a multiple-day run and daily round-ups and debriefs need to be given no matter how tired everyone is. This is to ensure that lessons are learnt and mistakes rectified so that every next show is better than the last. For such a situation, what we will discuss hereon still applies. If what you are faced with is a summary of the entire event (or if it is a single day thing) though, then my suggestion is to hold the meeting at least a day after the event is over.
As a history major I can tell you that certain governmental records are only declassified after a specified period of time and one of the reasons this is so is that it allows for the fog of emotions to clear before people have access to potentially sensitive information. On a much smaller scale, this applies to your employees or yourself as well. Proximity in terms of time to an event means that lingering adrenalin or emotions still persist and this can affect the way you evaluate things. Certainly, you would want to be as analytical and objective as possible and this is best done after a good night’s sleep and some distance from the happenings of the day.
Don’t Take Things Personally
It seems like an obvious enough thing to say, but I’ll just leave it out here. Play the ball and not the man.
Trust // Be Specific
Having said that, though, I should return to a theme that I’ve used many times in previous articles (and not just to boost my word count). That is the issue of trust. You’ve hired people to do their jobs and what you need to do is believe that they can do that job. If you don’t think that they are doing what is needed, then the onus is on you to revisit 1) your employment or deployment practices, 2) your on-the-job training methods, or 3) your own abilities (or lack thereof) as a leader.
This is important with regard to the agenda for post-show meetings. Avoid speaking only in general terms or being downright condescending during the analysis. You can think of it in terms of a sporting contest: as a coach, if all you do is say things like “attack more” or “play better” then it would be no surprise if your competency is soon undermined by your team. Instead what you need to be doing is picking out specific things that went wrong and how to correct them, devising new tactical solutions to overcome predicted problems, or pointing out what was done well to motivate and encourage your team.
It is the same for event management. Be specific without being personal and trust that everyone already knows the job they should be doing. This will go a long way into ensuring a successful post-event meeting.
Feel The Mood
After you’ve done all the basic things like determining the order of the meeting and what is discussed when, your job as leader and facilitator is to feel the weather in the room and make adjustments accordingly. Yes, details about budgeting are crucial to any business but bashing away at them endlessly for hours can have a severely detrimental effect on the team. Know when to mix things up to keep everyone awake and interested and the meetings will be far more effective.
Like I said early in the piece, post-event meetings are a necessary evil that no one really enjoys too much. Nonetheless, it is vital to the way you and your team learn and move forward for the next day or to other projects. With this little framework here, hopefully you can start thinking about how to improve your sessions and have fruitful and productive analysis.