“EG Tips” – How to Motivate Yourself (and Others) to Work Late in Events

“EG Tips” – How to Motivate Yourself (and Others) to Work Late in Events

It can sometimes be a challenge to motivate yourself and other team members to work (another) evening or weekend but here are some motivational tips and incentives to help get everybody on board.

Events don’t always take place during traditional working hours, which means that organization and planning often don’t either. The reality of the event profession is that 9 to 5 doesn’t often work and putting in long hours, particularly as an event approaches and in your peak and busy periods, is part of the territory. For event managers, motivating yourself and your team to continuously put in the extra time can be draining and you may need a pick me up. Here are some tips and incentives to keep everyone motivated and wanting to put in the extra legwork so you can focus more effectively on the real tasks at hand.


I will start with the obvious! Incentivizing can make or break the motivation to do overtime and work late, particularly if it is a regular occurrence for many eventprofs. Regularly review and assess what is working and what isn’t so that it maintains motivation. Ask your employees what they want, what is the most important to them and how you can turn it into an incentive in some way? This might be extra money, time off in lieu or some other privileges or rewards.
It is also important to remember to incentivize quality and productivity over time spent because we can all procrastinate and waste time but working late is all about getting things done efficiently!

Give Notice

Sometimes overtime is unavoidable and unscheduled, but giving as much notice as possible helps others to plan and makes them more likely to stay as they are prepared for it. For those with families or other commitments, notice allows them to make plans or arrangements so that they can remain focused on the work knowing that things are in hand at home.

Set Expectations

Right from the start – even from the job interview – set the expectation that event planners need to do what is necessary for a successful event, including putting in extra hours if and when required. Anyone with an important event project coming up should be mindful of overloading themselves in the key final weeks and days before the live event date. Try to stay focused on the event so that it takes priority during the critical final stages and clear your diary to avoid being compromised. Establishing guidelines early on that if everything isn’t ready for the event it is expected that extra time is put in develops the right mindset and avoids any misunderstandings or disillusionment down the line.

Hand Over Control

Give employees clear direction and then hand over control and responsibility to your team to let them get on with the project. This shows your trust, avoids micromanaging and allows everyone to work and get home and manage their workload in a way that is best for them. The team needs to have ownership of the project, rather than just dipping in and out. That being said, you should make sure it is clear that they can come to you with problems or questions if they have any, or feedback if anyone is letting the side down.

Group Goals

Getting everyone working together can be a keen motivator as many like to feel like they have a place in something bigger and enjoy working with others more than working on their own. Set group goals so that they can pick each other up and everyone either succeeds or fails. This team work approach is particularly important for large and complex event projects and excellent team building too.

Improve The Environment

A clean and aesthetically pleasing work environment can go a long way towards making employees want to work there. Adding a splash of colour with art and pictures or bold furniture can add some fun into the workplace and make it less boring or dull which can quickly demotivate you and make you want to leave. The more time you are expecting employees to stay, the more effort you should put into the appearance and upkeep of the environment.

Show Their Importance

It can be hard for an employee to see the overall goals of an organization and know that their hard work directly contributed to the vision or targets. Show those who do overtime or work late how their productivity has helped and in what way this has boosted the event, brand or bottom line. Knowing that their work has an impact will make them take more pride in their work and understand the importance of why working late needs to happen.

Be Honest

If the project is running behind or the client has certain expectations, be honest and let employees know the reason they have to stay late, as well as what exactly needs to be done. This includes taking responsibility for your (or the brand’s) faults if it has resulted in more work or something else that needs to be done. Often honesty is more motivating than a corporate excuse and makes employees feel like they are respected enough to get the full truth.

Achievement Targets

Focus on the achievements and productivity rather than the time that employees have spent at work because it doesn’t always tally up. Plus focusing on achievements will help you highlight those in the team who are excelling and those who are just staying late for show, which will help you reward the right people.

Stay With Them

For event managers, show your team that you aren’t afraid to stay late and get your hands dirty too. Lead by example and do some of the grunt work that you wouldn’t normally do to show that it needs to be done regardless of your position. You will find it is not only motivating for everyone but you will become a closer knit team and earn more respect as a manager.
*Just ensure you are being useful and not micromanaging which can hinder productivity and make employees feel like they are being “watched” which will demotivate them.


Competitiveness can be a useful motivator and you can use sales targets or productivity targets with incentives to encourage healthy competition. This tends to get things done faster as well. Just ensure that you are appreciating everything that is achieved and not just singling out those who “won”, after all, everyone stayed late so there are no real losers.

Give Them What They Need

There is nothing worse than staying late, getting into the productive groove and then realizing that there are resources or support that you need that are not available out of hours or someone else you need to liaise with whom has gone home and is out of contact. Ensure that everyone has what they need to get the job done, in the same way you would during normal working hours. This may mean planning ahead.

Review Tech

If the same tasks are causing a backlog time and time again and forcing the need for overtime it is worth reviewing the processes and technology that is being used. Is there a better way to manage the task? Can it be done differently? Is there technology or software that could streamline the workflow and automate some or all of the task? Sometimes investment in a solution can be more cost effective in the long run if it cuts down on the amount of hours and therefore the overtime required. It can also give a big boost if employees were feeling demotivated by an inefficient system, by energizing them to get things done a lot quicker


When you and your team are seriously overstretched you should also look at any elements which can be outsourced. If a task is taking up a lot of time or could be done better and more cost-effectively elsewhere it may be a better use of resources and reduce anxiety so that key players can focus on getting everything back on track. Whether it is a casual pool of staff, contractors or skills found and outsourced, it can help to take the pressure off at short notice. Staff will appreciate that you are aware of the problem, noticing their efforts and working hard to find solutions.

Make It Personal

Everyone is motivated by different things so learning what makes certain people tick means that you can appeal to them specifically. For example, some are looking for career progression or opportunities for more responsibility, while others are hoping for flexible working hours. Getting to know your team on a personal level can allow you to pick the right caveat to face any resistance.

Ask For Feedback

Ask employees what they want and need from overtime, what is working well and what needs to be improved as it will help you avoid making decisions for them and will save plenty of time trying to analyze how things are going. If you want to know if your employees are feeling good about what they are doing (or not) then ask, or provide other forms of feedback.

Celebrate Achievements

Very simple but easily forgotten is celebrating and rewarding achievements because everyone gets wrapped up in actually getting the work done. When the event is over and the project has been delivered sometimes the relief or physical tiredness of a long live event day can be overwhelming and everyone just wants to go home. Ensure that there is frequent praise and celebrations for a job well done and that you make time to celebrate at a later date!

Offer Downtime

It can be tempting to just try and “power through” when working late which can mean 2 or 3 hours pass in order to get things done, however don’t forget that many eventprofs won’t have had a break since lunchtime (and they probably had a working lunch anyway) so ensure that you schedule breaks and downtime even when you are working overtime or later than usual. Having some time out can make the team attack the task with renewed energy.

Non-Financial Incentives

Bonuses and pay rises can of course motivate many to add extra hours but it isn’t always necessary and for many they are looking for something else. Regardless of the incentives you chose, always ensure you are clear on what employees will receive and when, making sure you always follow through. Making promises you can’t keep is a quick way to lose morale, motivation and for your team to lose faith in you.

  • Flexible Working– Working from home options or later start days so that employees can have a sleep in or make up lost time at home often goes down well.
  • Holiday– Time off in lieu or extra holiday days can make employees view overtime as just another day as they will be getting extra time off later so they won’t see it as a “big ask.”
  • Break Area– Create a fun and unique area for your employees to go to unwind, add a pool table as well as useful facilities and opportunities to actually unwind or take a real break, especially if they are spending a lot of time at the office.
  • Raffle Draws– For frequent overtime you can offer raffle tickets to those who stay later and at the end of the week/month have a prize draw where someone can win big or small prizes, for example a spa day of luxury food items.
  • Food/Dinner– Offer to buy food or dinner for everyone staying late and bring it into the office, particularly with late working as many won’t have planned a meal. You could all order pizza and enjoy some food while being productive!
  • Career Progression– Making it known that those who work overtime or longer hours will be considered favourably for promotions in the future can be a huge motivator, particularly if progression opportunities are few and far between. However, this only tends to work if there is a role coming up soon, rather than vague promises for the distant future.
  • Travel– For late night working, offer to pay an Uber or taxi fare or alternative travel arrangements, particularly for those who commute who might feel safety is a concern later at night. Also it helps them get home at a reasonable time without having to wait for out of hour’s public transport.
  • Event Tickets– Got a big event coming up that they aren’t needed for? Give them free tickets to go as an attendee for once and allow them some time off and even see a new perspective for work.
  • Dress Down– Many just want to be comfortable at work so offer a dress down option past a certain time so that ties can come off and if employees want to change into jeans and a t-shirt they can without needing to adhere to a dress code.
  • Opportunities for Personal Development

    Other team members will be most appreciative of ways to progress and develop on a personal level. For some these could be super motivating factors in return for their overtime commitment:

    • Education Opportunities– Courses, training opportunities or even education incentives can help some bulk out their bio and gives them more satisfaction in their personal development.
    • Retreats– Corporate retreats, experiences and team building opportunities can show your employees that you care and reward them for a job well done.

In Conclusion

Being honest and transparent are key points to working late when asking more of your eventprofs. Earn their respect and make them more likely to say yes! But ultimately, part of motivation is how you present the situation to your employees and knowing what will personally motivate them can help you pick the perfect incentive so that they don’t need so much nudging!

(Social Coup LLC)

“EG Tips” – How to Prevent Event Volunteer Fail

“EG Tips” – How to Prevent Event Volunteer Fail

From large-scale sporting events to community festivals and conferences, many events rely on volunteer support, making volunteer management core to the event planner skill set. So what goes into designing and managing a successful volunteer program? Following are a few steps;

Designing an Event Volunteer Program

You have chosen…wisely

Not all jobs are well-suited to volunteers. Core logistical functions, for example, are usually best handled by a professional, with the training, accountability and long-term involvement to get the job done right. Other positions, such as greeters, green teams, room monitors and information desk personnel could be volunteer-based.

Hey, volunteers have needs, too!

While volunteer positions are typically established to fill an event need, it’s important to understand volunteer aims as well. Are they looking for a free pass? Special access? Cool giveaways? Asking why volunteers are interested in your event can help you add the right perks to your program.

Don’t go breakin’ the law

Event organizers should be very careful their volunteer program conforms to the law. This includes ensuring it meets fair labour requirements. Volunteer positions should not replace employment positions or positions subject to dispute. Other legal aspects to consider are the need for adequate insurance covering volunteers and criminal record checks.

I’m a volunteer, not your budget band-aid

While volunteers can be a welcome enhancement to your event, make sure your event has the budget to support essential, skilled staff. Don’t let volunteers become a crutch for maintaining a financially unsustainable event.

Recruiting Event Volunteers

Pick me! Pick me!

It’s important to state your volunteer selection criteria up-front to ensure you get the volunteers you need. This criteria can include practical requirements, like language or equipment proficiency. Selection rules are particularly important for positions you anticipate will be popular. Make sure your criteria are reasonable, and do not unfairly discriminate.

How can Volunteers benefit from your event?

Most volunteers are participating in your event because they’d like something in return: access, merchandise, experience, or training, for example. Clearly state what benefits they will receive upfront, to ensure no one is surprised or disappointed.

Dive into volunteer pools

If your event has an ongoing need for volunteers, consider partnering with a community group. This can work well if an honorarium is able provided in return for service by clubs, schools or fundraising groups. Look for groups whose mission aligns with your volunteer opportunity. For example, local recycling coalitions may be a source for event green team candidates.

Match-maker, match-maker, make me a match

Make sure your job matches skills, interests and availability to the best extent possible. Be prepared for individuals who may want to participate that have special needs, or physical limitations. Just as with an employment position, it’s important to be inclusive, and avoid discrimination.

Managing Volunteers

You want me to do what?!

Just because a volunteer is not paid does not mean they don’t need a job description. Clearly inform volunteers about their role, including who they report to, hours of work and tasks. Also be clear about anything you may not want them to do. This is particularly important for any volunteers who may be handling private or sensitive information.

You have the right to…

In addition to a job description, it’s important for volunteers to have a code of conduct, and bill of rights. Common items to include in a volunteer code of conduct include the expectation to arrive on time, demonstrate a positive attitude, respect co-workers, ask for help, be safe, report risks and injuries, and to have fun. And don’t forget volunteers have rights too, so organizers should spell their obligations out as well. This might include providing a fair, safe, healthy work environment free from harassment.

The best laid plans

There is always a risk volunteers may not show up, or follow through on their responsibilities. To reduce risk, plan for attrition and bake in clear repercussions for no-shows. This may include withholding any benefits, or in extreme scenarios, charging volunteers who skip shifts for benefits received. Also ensure there is a management plan to deal with difficult volunteers, who may need assistance to effectively perform, or be transitioned off the volunteer team.

Training day

Job descriptions, codes of conduct, bills of rights, and accountability programs should be reviewed during an onsite training. This orientation should also provide background on the event, and demonstrate any tasks they’ll be doing. This is also a good time to review and provide any special equipment that might be needed, including t-shirts, badges or safety equipment.

Please locate your nearest emergency exit

Event organizers are obligated to provide a fair, safe and healthy work environment for volunteers. In addition, risk planning, hazard identification and emergency response must include consideration of volunteers and be shared with volunteers.

A million times: thank you!

Happy volunteers return, and volunteer for others. So remember: you can never say thank you enough!

Don’t let the door hit them on the way out

Volunteer responsibilities do not end at the close of the event. Effective volunteer programs include steps for the “after-event” experience: providing evaluations and references and seeking feedback to improve the volunteer experience.

In Conclusion

Volunteers can be a rich resource for event organizers, but do need to be thoughtfully managed. What wins and challenges have you experienced while managing volunteers at your event?

(Social Coup LLC)

“EG Tips” – How To Ensure Your Workshops Are Interactive and Increase Participation

“EG Tips” – How To Ensure Your Workshops Are Interactive and Increase Participation

So you cut down the number of speakers and replaced them with workshops but you’re still worried about participation. Calling something a workshop isn’t enough. You need to incorporate these ideas to get your attendees engaged.

There’s something about the human voice that is naturally soothing. Just listen to a bedtime story, or a boring speaker for that matter, and you’re blissfully lulled into sleep. But while that may be ideal for bedtime, it isn’t for an attendee. You don’t want attendees drifting to nap time when they could be actively participating in sessions.

Most calls for speakers these days include notes about preferential treatment for speakers who plan an interactive session. Some speaker applications require the speaker to explain how they will engage the audience. But more often than not, it comes down to the same old presentation but instead of having questions at the end, they’re interspersed. Maybe the speaker even goes so far as to break people up into teams, but ultimately it’s still speaker-led interaction.
What if you want something more?

5 Simple Rules to Increase Event Workshop Participation

  1. Make sure it’s what your audience wants.
  2. Select a dynamic leader or team lead.
  3. Arrange the seating for maximum interaction.
  4. Make it actionable and applicable.
  5. Accommodate different learning styles and preferences.

Before you go out and rework your entire event from speaker-based to workshops, there are a few things you should know about how to make the most of the workshops. Just because you switch to an interactive format, doesn’t mean everyone will immediately begin participating. You need to set up the optimum environment first.

  1. You Need Audience Interest

    It’s essential to make sure you have the type of audience that wants to get involved. While it doesn’t always come down to generations, it’s important to understand those who were educated in Canada over the past 25 years, were most likely part of team learning. They broke into groups, discussed findings, gave presentations, and often experienced a very democratic way of learning. Students took presenter roles and faced conversation-type and small-group discussion as part of the learning process.
    Before this group even went to school their cartoons were asking their opinions on things and asking for help. For instance, how many times does Dora the Explorer ask her audience to help her find something on screen?

  2. The Leader Matters. Select Accordingly.

    There are some people who can bring out interaction and discourse in a room full of shy people and then there are others that make people uninterested in sharing. The facilitator you choose in this role is essential. And yes, there has to be one. Even if you have your attendees come into a room, find their seats, and watch video directions (or read them from a screen), you need someone who can diffuse arguments, encourage interaction, and other in the moment emotional draws.
    In the article “Ten Simple Rules for Running Interactive Workshops” authors Katrina Pavelin, Sangya Pundir, and Jennifer A. Cham suggest the following tips for finding the ideal facilitator:

    • Carefully brief them to ensure they know how to moderate according to your interactive goals for the session (or select them for their ability to do so).
    • Facilitators need to be impartial coordinators:“neither contributing ideas, nor evaluating them, but rather encouraging input from participants in their group. They keep discussions on time and remind participants to note down all their points, sometimes actually doing this for them whilst they are speaking. Facilitators may also note further ideas onto the artifacts as they arise during the presenting-back phase and subsequent discussion with everyone in the room.”
    • Facilitators needn’t have substantial subject expertise, but it is helpful for them to have a basic understanding of the concepts being explored.
    • The facilitators should monitor the groups and, if there is time, “they may consider reshuffling them during the breaks, as this can boost creativity.”
    • If you switch to a workshop format, this also opens up the sessions to a different crop of leaders. Subject matter expert speakers are not the same as workshop facilitators. Speakers must be presenting new thoughts and learning, while facilitators are focused on cultivating the community knowledge and sharing

  3. Arrange the Seating for Maximum Interaction

    This sounds like such a basic thing but it has big implications on your attendee’s ability to communicate with one another. Ever attend a class of a new teacher? They have brilliant, creative ideas about how the desks should be arranged for maximum interaction among students. A few weeks in, the desks are back to the way they’ve always been because the new flow did increase interaction…a little too much.
    Most interactive sessions at events use the go-to round, banquet tables that seat 8-10. That’s good for small group interaction, right?

    It’s good for small group professional sharing. It keeps everyone at a professional distance. If you’re across the table from a member of your team, you’re a respectable six feet or so away. This arrangement can also be quite loud as team members may need to talk above others to be heard.
    Plus, people naturally gravitate to where they feel most comfortable. If you allow attendees to sit at their own tables, they are likely to be with people they know well. Those who prefer not to participate will sit towards the back, while those who thrive on participation will sit in the front. This makes the tables lopsided based on location. All the non-participants will be together and all the eager beavers will be as well.
    This location bias may cause non-participants to treat the projects in a joking manner and the eager beavers may be shouting to be heard over one another since participation is what they thrive on.
    Instead, try something creative like lounge furniture or seats in a chevron pattern. Lounge seating allows people to be comfortable and creates an intimacy that makes it easy for even reticent people to share. The chevron pattern also removes distances.
    If the event allows, look to place your interactive sessions in non-traditional spaces. When people are in an ordinary learning environment, like a traditional hotel seminar setting, they will act accordingly. Get them into a creative setting or at the very minimum creative seating, and they’ll have a more meaningful exchange.

  1. Make It Actionable and Applicable

    While it might be nice to spend your interactive time talking about fanciful what-ifs, it will be much more beneficial for your attendees if the interaction is applicable to their current roles and what they learn or take away is actionable to them as well. For instance, if you’re hosting a medical society event and your workshop is about addressing office HR issues, instead of hammering away at debates over the government’s role in equal pay, your attendees will get a lot more out of workshop topics that they could go home and implement that day.

    What’s Wrong with the Larger Issues?
    There’s a time and a place for addressing the larger issues at events. This is likely a valuable discussion in a speaker-led session or a panel. For a workshop, you want a topic that people will have experience with and feel comfortable sharing. Larger, politically-fueled questions often shut people down, not facilitate exchange.
    By selecting topics that are of interest and importance in their lives, you will find those with answers will share them and those who don’t have them will be very interested in the exchange. They will also contribute by posing additional questions that will fuel the discussion.
    However, in order to make your workshops actionable and applicable, you need to understand your attendee very well. For instance, hosting a workshop on best practices in the medical office with a large group of medical professionals on the verge of retirement is likely not the best topic.
    Find out what they are interested in and more importantly, discover their challenges. People often want to discuss challenges because those are the things that keep them from success. Topics for workshops should be looked at differently than topics for keynotes or subject matter expert-led sessions. Workshops are active learning experiences and the topics should reflect that.

  2. Accommodate Different Learning Styles and Preferences

    Here’s the tricky one – personalize the learning experience for everyone in the room. Sound difficult? Perhaps, a little.
    Subject matter experts can’t agree on the different learning styles. There’s something like 71 on the books but there are seven that are most commonly talked about. These include:

    • Visual
    • Aural
    • Verbal
    • Physical

    And the three more recently added:

    • Solitary
    • Social
    • Logical

    If you are lucky enough to know which of these your group falls into, you’ve saved yourself some time. For instance, if you’re hosting a workshop for engineers or mathematicians, you may be able to safely guess that they are logical learners. They’re going to aim to understand the logic and the reasoning behind what is discussed in the workshop. They are less likely to grab an idea and run with it without first examining it and testing it with logic.

    However, since most of us don’t have the convenience of knowing how our attendees learn best, you’ll need to employ all aspects of learning – visual idea presentations, aural and written directions, social interaction, solitary processing time, and the ability to write out or sketch conclusions.
    These different learning styles can be used throughout. They shouldn’t be steps or directions that must be followed. For instance, a physical learner may need to doodle the concept to fully grasp it. In an interactive workshop allow people to present in ways that work for them, not as an order to “doodle” the final result. For instance, an aural learner will need to talk out their ideas with the group.

    Make sure different kinds of learners are represented in each group but this can also be frustrating for some. Another option is to allow them to self-select which type of learner they are and break them into groups accordingly. However, know that the group of solitary learners will most likely come up with ideas on their own and (might) share them just before time is called. That doesn’t mean they won’t have a cohesive group and a good learning experience. It just means they need to go within their own heads without interruption before interacting with others on the topic.

In Conclusion

If your goal is to create a more interactive forum at your event, switching out speakers for workshops is not enough. Workshops don’t equate to instant participation. Often people feel standoffish and hesitant to share in front of unfamiliar groups. Instead, you need to use facilitators who can help people with a meaningful exchange, place furniture in positions that encourage discussion, understand and incorporate learning styles, and select topics that are of interest and ones in which discussed solutions can be implemented immediately.
But before you do all of this to ensure your workshops are bastions of interactivity, it’s important to assess whether it’s a format your attendees will enjoy. While most do, there are the rare groups that would rather have subject matter experts present the most recent findings. Perhaps, some of them have trouble sleeping.

(Social Coup LLC)