Collaborative events come in all shapes and sizes. Some are as small as school projects with a pair of classmates. Others are as large as company workshops, with dozens of guests planning to be in attendance. Each gathering is important — no matter the size. They can also be equally challenging to organize and execute due to their unique challenges. In all of your scheduling, you can keep calendar etiquette in mind.
As with most things, there is a right and a wrong way to schedule a collaborative event. You can follow an ineffectual pace, have a poor attitude, or even select an ineffective venue. Even one mistake such as this can tarnish an otherwise flawless event. Especially with collaborative events, you will want to follow some type of calendar etiquette.
To help present and future event planners in their endeavors, this article will outline some of the best practices one can follow when scheduling a collaborative event. This will help you lay the proper groundwork for an event so that it has a greater chance of succeeding and exceeding expectations. Let’s begin:
Calendar Etiquette: Respect the Time of Others
When people RSVP to an event you are running, they sacrifice their time to be there. You must respect their time when planning and carrying out a collaborative event. For starters, the duration of your event should be reasonable. You shouldn’t expect guests to block out half of their day for a collaborative event that could feasibly be finished in a couple of hours.
You should do your best to check and verify the availability of others before sending them an invite. This way, you can coordinate a day and time that works for the greatest number of people. Certain days also work better for groups you are a part of, making it easier to carry out an event. Rather than forcing people to shift their busy schedules for you, you work with their timetable as a courtesy.
In the days leading up to your event, double-check your invitation list to ensure you didn’t miss anybody. You should also verify event details to ensure everything is correct and precise for guests. An incorrect address or virtual meeting link can waste time and effort.
Resolve Collaborative Scheduling Conflicts
So what do you do when there is a scheduling conflict with one of your guests? Surely, you won’t just shrug them off as an unfortunate loss. You should at least try to create a solution for scheduling conflicts before settling on a fixed schedule.
Many collaborative events are work-related. Team huddles, company retreats, and professional seminars are some of the many examples that can be mentioned. Employees can’t always make time for extra events outside of regular work hours. Instead of making attendance mandatory or telling them “too bad,” you can keep collaboration in mind by proposing a solution.
In this case, a couple of things you can try include video technology. Team members who live out of state or are away on a trip can be offered the option to join via video conference call. Additionally, you can use video tools to record events and meetings so they can be revisited later by those not in attendance.
Coordinate Across All Platforms
Not all of your attendees will use the same platforms to communicate or make plans. Platforms like IOS and Android users attending an event will want their needs met.
There are apps and platforms that can work for everyone, regardless of device type or degree of tech knowledge. For example, Calendar has multiple integrations that make it work with other online calendars. When you create an event, you can be assured that it will be sent to Google, Yahoo, and Outlook users.
A good rule of thumb is not to introduce unfamiliar elements unless necessary. If your team needs to download a new app they will be using daily, that’s acceptable. If you’re trying to plan a single event through an unfamiliar app, you’re asking for complications to arise.
Attendees to your event will inevitably have questions that need to be answered. Addressing questions and concerns about your event is just as important as running the event itself. This inspires confidence in your event and gets people excited to attend and contribute rather than showing up with reservations.
When a question is posed, provide as prompt a response as possible. If you don’t know the answer immediately, at least let the individual know that you have received their message and are actively working on answering it. When you answer a question, share the solution with all other attendees just in case they were also wondering but didn’t think to ask.
Failure to communicate can doom your event from the start. Fewer people will RSVP if details are foggy or uncertain. You’ll also have a more challenging time getting guest speakers and punctual arrivals, among other things. The more reliable you are with your scheduling communication, the more reliability you can expect in return.
A genuinely collaborative event calls on the participation and talents of every individual in attendance. There won’t be much collaboration if the event consists of a single person standing on a stage going through a PowerPoint presentation.
If collaboration is your goal, your planning and scheduling should reflect that. Start by scheduling a venue that allows guests to mingle and interact easily. You may have to do this weeks in advance to get the best possible location.
To further inspire collaboration, set some clear expectations in advance. As part of the invite, let people know you expect them to participate and get involved. Everyone planning to attend will arrive more prepared to rub elbows with each other. An itinerary detailing collaborative activities can further help attendees know what to prepare for and what to expect.
When planning any event, collaboration is key from the very foundation. This is an extension of including others that goes behind the scenes. The secret to good event prep is to delegate responsibilities to a broad and qualified group.
Putting all the responsibilities on a single person to plan an entire event is too much. The stress that a person has to endure can lead to mistakes made due to fatigue or overexertion. Whether that person is you or someone else, they deserve to have some help. The success of the event and one’s mental health will benefit greatly from an extra set of hands.
Let’s focus on the scenario of you being the lead event planner. You can certainly take the brunt of the load, but encourage yourself to delegate as many smaller tasks as possible. Even getting another person to focus on sending invites, coordinating with catering, or doing tech checks can take a hugh load off your shoulders. The more help you receive, the smoother the event can go.
The first event you schedule will almost always be the hardest to pull off. The more experience you gain, the better you will get at event scheduling and execution. Hopefully, some of these tips will help make your next event easier to tackle, whether your first or your hundredth collaborative event.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by RDNE Stock project: Pexels; Thank you!