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In 2012, CareerCast.com ranked event planning as the sixth most stressful job to have. The MICE Academy shares its top tips to beat stress.

Hyperventilation says it all. It means the rapid continuous intake of oxygen, which is close to a panic attack. The result of hyperventilation is usually a shortness of temper, followed by a temporary paralysis of the brain, leading swiftly on to poor decisions and ultimately an event outcome of such negative proportions that does not bear thinking about. The word ‘temporary’ is relative to the circumstances at a given time. Yet the bottom line to hyperventilation, better known as stress, is it should be avoided at all costs during any phase of the planning process.

Not all stress is bad news. There is good stress and there is not-so-good stress and the differences have been clearly defined by a number of pundits in the stress management industry. Good stress emanates from the highs and lows of a plan coming together, which leads to a feeling of satisfaction and exhilaration. Not-so-good stress is when the normally reasonable mind turns to mush and leads to despair and despondency. In a nutshell, good stress has constructive outcomes while not-so-good stress has destructive outcomes.

In the MICE world, unpreparedness in any phase of the planning process leads to anxiety bordering on a total panic attack. Once that stage is reached the outcome is beyond being a positive one and could be called the prime public enemy of the MICE industry. The remedies for this number one cause of poor event outcomes should be well heeded.

Lead times
There are very few events (if any) – irrespective of capacity or type – that do not require a serious thinking-through of all the elements as per the reasons for the event in the first place. If the lead-times to the date of the actual event are so short as to spell disaster before even commencing, then it is best to express reservations at the outset. Others will forget the short lead time, yet making it clear at the outset, and better still in written format, ensures that even though it’s the green light, your concerns have been recorded. In this way while others stress levels may rise, yours will remain relatively low while still giving the arrangements your best shot.

Lack of information
With details coming through in bits and pieces Struggling with stressthere is limited opportunity to stay calm. Planning with only half the details or as details are decided on the spur of the moment, is a further sure way of those stress levels going sky-high. It’s always unwise to plan on a shaky foundation and adding poor communications is merely a recipe for a flop. Hazy planning does sometimes strike it lucky, but it is not prudent to bet on it.

Goalpost shifting
Once the objectives have been set, it is imperative that all parties work towards the same objectives. Check the ‘temperature of the targeted water’ every now and then to ensure other stakeholders have not suddenly decided on a different set of objectives. One road leading to Rome was not just for the Romans.

Questionable subcontractors
Another high stress level is having to plan with subcontractors that have been selected independently by another department or senior manager. Even with a precise brief, there are many instances that have proved worlds apart between the written understanding and that which actually materialises. Being at a venue, chosen because the boss liked the view, with questionable facilities, accessibility and operational personnel that only recently discovered what an event is can be quite scary. Same applies to an audiovisual company that has difficulty remembering the day and/or time of set-up and look highly perplexed when they see a sophisticated data-projector pointed at them. Stress under these circumstances is indeed guaranteed.

The secret is to pre-plan down to the smallest detail and constantly pose the question ‘What if’

Once a proactive attitude is applied and a reactive stance is disallowed, stress should go straight out of the window.

Enjoy the year-end recess. Unwind, relax and do have a truly stress-free break. Visit miceacademy.co.za for more information about the academy.

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