It’s 6am and I sit alone in this big hotel ballroom savoring the first of many cups of hot adrenaline. Some event planners prefer the commotion and the buzz of the event but not me…I like the calm. The calm before the storm, the quiet, the solitude – it’s my time. I review all my colour coded lists. I love my lists. Sometimes I write tasks on my list that I know I’ve already completed. I can’t help myself; I get so much satisfaction in putting that checkmark next to each activity. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I see a completed critical path – oh yeah baby, that’s where I get my thrill!
The room is only partially set. The tables are still bare, chairs are stacks, the drape hasn’t been placed and the screens are not quite angled properly. I walk carefully and dodge boxes, carts and tools….oh yeah baby, this is my favorite time. I know that in few short hours, twelve to be exact, this room will be bustling with energy. I’m well aware twelve hours sounds like a lot – but not to event planners. The age-old question, how do you fit twenty-four hours of work into a measly twelve short hours?
A few hours later, event volunteers start arriving and the room is already a flurry of activity, some call it hectic, I prefer organized chaos. Sound checks, meetings, deliveries, texts and panicked phone calls…but we take it all in stride. Everything is going according to plan. I count the number of banquet tables once and again for a second time and maybe a third just to be sure. Oh yeah, this is where the magic happens.
The reception begins at 6pm and event staff is ready and in place at 5pm. Here come the guests, right on time, 45 minutes early….but that’s okay, we’re ready for these eager well-dressed educators. I’m excited, nervous, confident and anxious all at the same time. There they are; smiling laughing guests; guests who are greeted by the wonderfully talented team of volunteers. I stand back for a quick minute and soak in the sights. Are we starting on time, is hotel staff ready, are the salads pre-set, is the music cued, have all the COP honourees arrived, where are the VIPs? The questions, comments and concerns don’t stop…but that’s okay, we’re ready.
“Ok team everyone in place, doors open in 5 – repeat, doors open in 5.” The room looks gorgeous, crisp white linens, candles flickering, lights are dimmed and the colors look fantastic. Oh yeah baby, check off ‘wow factor’.
The evening is just about to start – here comes the magic. Guests finally take their seats, later than planned…but that’s okay, they never reviewed my run sheet. The emcee takes her place on stage and announces the entrance of the head table. Participants graciously welcome these esteemed guests. Then she announces the official entrance of the Canada’s Outstanding Principals. The music is cued and crowd goes wild, cheering, whistling, applauding – the noise is deafening, everyone is smiling and some are teary-eyed. I look at a mother of one of the award winning principals – she’s beaming with pride and I feel myself getting a little misty-eyed. Could it be….is this is my favorite part of the event?
I’m one of the very few who know about the minor glitches throughout the evening and I smile through it all. Game face on, no one knows, expect the inner circle. We’re running on time, AV is perfect, the food is delicious, hotel staff is outstanding, presenters are on cue and award winners are savoring every single minute.
In hindsight, maybe the quiet and solicitude aren’t my favorite part of the event. Maybe, just maybe, my favorite time is seeing the magic in the smiles of the participants. Oh yeah baby – it’s days like this that I love my job! “It’s a wrap!”
Amany Tadros organized her first event in kindergarten. She has gone on to make a successful career of it and is the head of all event organizing at The Learning Partnership. In her free time she organizes events for her children’s schools.