The Making Of A Super Event Director
By Paul Peavy
With Halloween at the end of the month, I thought I would give you an idea for a costume. How about going as a Super Event Director? After many years of athletic competition, I’ve had enough interactions with event directors to know what makes the ideal director. I have dealt with directors and organizers of events of all sizes—from small local events, regional competitions to international corporate events like Disney marathons and IronMan triathlons. Here are the characteristics that I think would turn you from an average event director to Super Event Director.
1. Mole Hill Maker—While there is cause for quick action when things go wrong, you should learn to keep things in perspective. Don’t turn every little snag into a huge problem. If you get all worked up about little problems, you won’t have the focus you need when something really big goes wrong.
2. The Sympathetic Head Nodder—You have the ability to make participants and spectators feel better even if you can’t accommodate their request. You listen to their problems and nod reassuringly, then politely explain what can or can’t be done and why. Sometimes, you even convince them that you’re right. This has happened to me as a participant more than once. I didn’t get the solution I wanted, but I left convinced that the event director did everything short of reversing the earth’s rotation for me.
3. The Energizer Bunny—Up hours before the first competitor arrives and on site long after the last competitor leaves, you work tirelessly before and after an event. And every minute in between, you’re racing so fast from one station to another that it’s hard to tell you apart from the actual competitors.
4. Jokes-R-Us—Super Event Director knows how to take the edge off when situations get sticky, unless serious injury is involved. Laughter is the best way to smooth things over. If you laugh with the first slip, you’ll have better footing next time.
5. That’s What Friends Are For—You know the secret to being Super Event Director is to have a right-hand man, like “Barney Fife,” “Robin” and “Tonto.” You can’t be everywhere at once and do everything all by yourself; a solid sidekick is essential for sharing the load.
6. Gumby—You remember Gumby, the green, flexible toy that you could bend into all sorts of wacky positions without breaking. The same is true of Super Event Director. Sometimes it rains during events, sometimes officials are a no-show, and sometimes there is algae in the water. What will be your Super Event Director response? In situations like this, you have to think creatively and perhaps even consult others for advice. In some instances, you may simply switch to Plan B—which you outlined in advance, just in case. When you clearly have a Plan B, participants say, “On a sunny day, Plan A would have been better, but Plan B was a good alternative given the circumstances. We’ll be back next year and will hope it will be operating as usual under Plan A.
If you incorporate these characteristics into your director personality portfolio, you will be director of a Super Event that makes participants and spectators alike racing back for more.