Like the margins in a book provide space between the words and the page limits, maintaining margin as you plan and execute an event will provide a buffer to absorb challenges and issues prior to reaching the limits of your event and you! Consider the following areas in which having margin can make a tremendous difference in the success of your event:
- Time (Attendees’): Before finalizing the schedule for your event (onsite registration, large sessions, breakout meetings, meal-times, breaks, etc.), review it to ensure your schedule includes some margin. What if a speaker runs over his allotted time? What if a catered meal takes longer than expected? What if there are audiovisual difficulties? You want to offer your attendees the best experience possible, but keep in mind this includes providing opportunities to network with other attendees, take breaks to refresh their minds and reflect on what they’ve experienced, and not feel rushed throughout the event.
- Time (Yours): What about your schedule during the event? Even when things run smoothly it’s likely you’ll be quite busy during the event as you meet with attendees, communicate with the host staff, take care of your speakers, and handle the myriad of scenarios which come along with serving as an event planner. Consider holding blocks of time on your schedule when you schedule nothing. Doing so will provide sufficient time to take care of unexpected issues that arise as well as allowing you valuable moments to re-charge your batteries so you can lead your event more effectively.
- Emotional: Prior to traveling to Africa to pick up the two children we adopted in 2010, my wife and I spent almost two months in a hospital several states away from our home as one of our other children dealt with some health issues. Suffice to say, by the time we left for Africa we were spent, both emotionally and physically. While not always possible, taking time to get away and recharge before an event occurs can help an event planner tremendously.
- Physical: Rest well and eat well, both before and during the event. Any event planner knows this isn’t always easy, but doing so will provide you with the physical margin you need to be at your best.
- Financial: Margin is one financial measure of an event’s success. In simple terms, it’s found by dividing an event’s profit by its revenue. For example, an event with $10,000 in revenue and $3,500 in profit has a margin of 35%. Careful budget planning can help ensure you’ll have the funds needed to cover planned expenses as well as those that pop up unexpectedly. Planning your cash flow will help ensure you have the funds when you need them.
- Spiritual: As in so many other ways, Jesus Himself served as a model for us in the area of margin by living in such a way that He always had time for what mattered most, the divine appointments with people that came His way each day. Unfortunately, these unexpected meetings can often seem more like annoyances to a meeting planner low on margin.
If the idea of having margin appeals to you, consider the following resources which have been a great benefit to me in this area:
- Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.: This book is one of the most helpful I’ve ever read (on any topic).
- Take It to the Limit by Andy Stanley: This six-part sermon series can be found online by searching for North Point Community Church.
Both of these resources will challenge you to live with margin and provide practical ways to help you do so. Both you and those attending your event will benefit!