The 10 commandments for producing a successful event

Nadia Moussa is a freelance event producer and Director of D4 Productions in London and one of The Nurture Network’s fabulous marketing associates. She has created and produced events for some of the biggest brand names around – From Wimbledon to McDonald’s, Formula1 to TK Maxx. Here is her tongue-in-cheek of the Ten-Event-Commandments

Thou shalt…

1)    Close your eyes and think of Hollywood

There is always a reason for an event: to celebrate, to engage, to raise awareness, to educate… No matter what the purpose of your event, when you are creating it, the underlying objective should always be to entertain. If your audience are enjoying themselves, they will like you and if they like you, they will be receptive to your agenda and remember you fondly. So, when you are dreaming up the vision for your event, make sure it’s unique and stunning. If it doesn’t excite you, then lean back, close your eyes… and start again.

2)    Kill it if you love it

Once you have the idea, the one that gets you and your clients jumping up and down with excitement, kill it. That is, dissect it into teeny tiny pieces, bash them around a bit, add things on, take stuff away, put it back together in the form of a plan and then see if the whole thing is still looking pretty. Yes, this is the part when your eyes will turn to excel sheet size rectangles and the chiropractor will be called on to fix the cramp in your index finger, sustained from scrolling up and down your event plan. But just like with any mechanism, if a part is missing or not working properly, the whole thing is kaput from the start.

3)    Get the cream out

Hmmm, where am I going with this… Simply put, make sure you have the best people for the job, no matter how small the task may be. I once worked on an event where 130 wine glasses went missing at the end of the night. We had 150 guests. No one noticed any suspicious bulges as they were leaving so someone somewhere must be running a profitable side business. Invest time in finding great people and suppliers, make sure they know what is expected of them and then let everyone get on with it.

4)    Do those squats

Do you want a butt like Kim Kardashian’s? Probably not. Nonetheless, putting on a great event is a serious workout. It takes months, sometimes even years of meticulous preparation. You want amazing results? Then start early and do your (p)reps like your life depends on it. If you’ve done your homework thoroughly, come event day, you and your team will be kicking some serious booty.

5)    Leave Jimmy in the closet

Ok, now this might seem trivial but it really is not, especially if you’re female. Wear shoes you can run around in all day, all night and then some. I learnt this the hard and very painful way. The plan was; hop on a waiting bus, drive to a quick side-event with a group of journalists, cruise back to the venue in the same tranquil manner. Easy. The reality was: 8 cups of coffee somehow found their way down guest’s back-side and I walked for what felt like 10 kilometres on coble-stoned streets to buy him a new outfit – in heels!!Back at the venue, I had to stand in an ice bucket until my feet were sufficiently numb and had stopped bleeding. I then spent the rest of the evening hobbling around in borrowed boat shoes. Not professional and certainly not cool.

6)    Know thy 50 Shades of Grey

It’s always wise to obey the law – stop at stop signs, don’t feed the pigeons, that sort of thing. But there are times when you may find yourself in a twilight zone, a little patch of grey area sat just between right and wrong. Like when police decide to close a parking lot after a Formula 1 race with no intention of re-opening it for the next 2 hours. It’s 38°C outside. You have 100 VIP guests waiting in 2 buses and they need to be at a dinner party in 1.5 hours. Do you a) sit tight, sing songs and hope the cold beer doesn’t run out b) attempt to ram your bus through the police barrier like the guy in front of you and subsequently get arrested (but hey, at least you made it out the parking lot, right!) c) negotiate a little deal with the lovely blue-eyed police man so he lets your group out, feigning a “national emergency”? The dinner party was lovely, thanks for asking.

7)    Smile and Nod

There are some wonderful people in the world – kind, warm, well- mannered, generous, lovely individuals. And then there are some that were dropped down a deep well as children, rescued by mean beasts with yellow fangs and raised behind a rock in a dark forest somewhere freezing cold, maybe Scotland. These people occasionally come to your events. And yes, you have to be nice to them.

8)    Phone a friend

You can plan ahead for lots of things, but you can’t possibly plan for everything. The producer’s role is to solve every imaginable and unimaginable problem. And sometimes that’s only achievable with a little help from your friends. The CEO from overseas has spilt red wine down her white shirt. She only brought the one (these people exist) and needs it cleaned and ready to wear by 7a.m.It’s past midnight already. Your friend Dave lives around the corner. “Dave, sorry to wake you. I need to use your washing machine real quick… Yes, Dave. I know. I owe you big time.”

9)    Wait for Elvis to leave the building

When you’re working late at an event, you sometimes hit a very hard wall, usually around 1 a.m. You’ve been on your feet all day with hardly any time to eat or drink, in the scorching heat, or freezing cold, wearing someone’s boat shoes. Your eyes are twerking harder than Nicki Minaj and your brain is speaking to you in Swahili. All you want to do is go to that happy place called bed. Well, it’s not happening. Not until the last guest has departed anyway. God forbid someone might spill something on themselves and have to spend the next day naked.

10) Shine bright like a…

You’ve created a thrilling vision, put together a meticulous plan, the whole team worked together like the professionals they are to deliver it, the event was a success and the lovely guests and clients are now sending their praise? Then there is just one more thing left to do – say Thank You. You are only ever as good as your team and when it’s all said and done, the spotlight should shine brightly on them.