Communication is one of the most important parts of a manager’s job. It’s also the most time consuming. You need to deliver information clearly and in ways that make sense to people in order for it to be effective. Not an easy task.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things working against you. Effective communication is tough in any situation, but the immediacy of live events – the stress, the crunched timeline – can compound issues that arise. The best way to combat such challenges is to first recognize what causes them. Once you do, you’ll be well on your way to designing an effective communication plan for any event.
The More People, The More Complicated it Gets
Generally, the larger the event, the harder it can be to clearly communicate with everyone involved. But by how much? How much more complicated do your management responsibilities become when the size of your team grows?
If you were only working with one other person you would only have two possible communication channels. You talking to your colleague and your colleague talking to you.
Adding a third person to the mix increases the number of pathways by 200%. Six possible communication pathways.
If you have an event with 20 team members (not an unrealistic team size) you’re now tracking 380 unique connection paths; emails, phone calls, and in-person meetings, every day.
Adding complexity to your event often means you must increase your team size. Even adding one department of a few people can have a large impact on the number of connections you have to manage.
New Team Members Can Lead to Confusion
In most work environments, you’re working with the same people every day. Even in a startup, you may wear a lot of hats but you generally see the same faces. This is not the case in events. From day to day, gig to gig, your team may be completely different. Especially if you hire out freelancers or work with different vendors, and contractors.
According to the Harvard Business Review, it can take up to 90 days to get a new hire fully up to speed. Whenever you bring on a new contractor or vendor you’re essentially adding a new member to your team. These new additions will be unfamiliar with your systems, protocols, and potentially even your terminology and job roles. Many of the things you take for granted as part of your day-to-day may be totally foreign, leaving lots of room open for miscommunication.
If you have a team that is newly formed, you might have to go back to basics. Ensure everyone is speaking the same event language before you start dolling out responsibilities. You’ll develop trust among your colleagues and accelerate this onboarding process.
There Are Lots of Ways to Communicate
It is not a stretch to say our society is continuing to clutter up our communication. Don’t get me wrong. I love that we can email, text, Slack, Snapchat, Tweet, or use Facebook Messenger to get in touch, but it does mean a lot more communication channels to wrangle. Everyone has their preferences.
Not just channels! Formats, too. Excel, Word, PDF, Google Docs, Calendar invites.
There are so many combinations you can use. And many of your vendors and freelancers are also juggling other events. They likely have their own systems for keeping track of their worlds.
Effective communication is never straightforward, and working in events compounds that challenge. Recognizing the reasons that communication is complex is the first step in finding a good solution for your team. Understanding what you are up against and setting up procedures to deal with complexity is what your job is all about.