How many hours per day do you work when you're on-site? 16? 18? Take a moment and pull out the calculator, if you need it. It's not always easy to count that high.
All joking aside, if you work in events, you're putting in a TON of hours. A major challenge we, along with our staff, face is keeping our energy levels up and staying sharp that whole time. This is no easy thing; doing anything for 18 hours at a time is challenge!
Energy levels are a major concern of mine when on-site. I want my team and myself in peak condition, so things run smoothly for our attendees and visiting executives. Here what I do for myself and my team. Steal these ideas!
Meet the negatives head-on
Some of the energy-sapping downsides of being on-site are just plain unavoidable. But you can turn them into positives by rethinking how you and your team respond to them. Here's an example that illustrates what I mean: the amount of walking on-site.
We all walk a TON on-site; miles and miles. So, we flip those sore feet into a positive by giving everybody a step counter and tracking how many steps we all take. Now the distance we walk is a badge of honor and we give out a prize to the person who covers the most ground every day. This flips an energy-draining downside into something my team gets excited about.
Keep Your Team Sharp
Don't forget about your team; their energy levels are important as yours and they’re working long hours in a stressful environment too. One thing small thing I do is just to acknowledge the people who are working for you throughout the day. Even a small comment can have an uplifting effect on people. Be upfront with praise on-site and you can give your team members a shot of energy.
I also love to have an end-of-day meeting with my teams where we review the day, go over what can be improved tomorrow, acknowledge people's efforts, and get people psyched back up for the next day.
Yes, it's one more thing on your to-do list but it's worth the time. When we do this on-site, I give out awards, have a few short-but-fun activities planned, and play some upbeat music. At the end of a long day, it's helpful to have that opportunity to unload what went wrong, acknowledged what went right, and to feel like you have a plan for the next day.
Rallying the troops at a recent conference....note the lifesized Paula Abdul cutout (left image, in red)!
Don't Forget About Yourself
You've undoubtedly heard that you should eat right and get enough sleep, but it bears repeating; it’s important! So, quick recap:
Eat Right: Don't skip breakfast (or any meal), avoid sugar or other foods that spike your energy and then make you crash (and be careful of sugar in places you might not think of; we're looking at you, morning venti Starbucks!), and consider small, energy packed snacks throughout the day (nuts and fruit are good, as is yogurt. Avoid carbs).
Sleep: Yes, I know. "On-site at a conference you're working" is not going to win an award for Best Sleep Environment, but there are things you can do to maximize the few hours for rest you do have. Avoid electronics — laptop and phone especially — in the hour leading up to when you go to bed. And don't stay out late or drink alcohol before bed; save that for the wrap party.
Both eating right and sleeping enough on-site are easier said then done. You may start your event with the best intentions but then the final day you find yourself eating an entire plate of bacon after sleeping 2 hours the night prior. Treat eating right and sleeping right as goals to work towards; you'll never be perfect but you can always do better. Also go in with a plan. If you know what you're going to eat before hand ("I will eat a breakfast of yogurt with fruit and granola before I head to the venue") you're more likely to follow through. Same goes with sleep ("I will go to bed at 11pm Monday night after finishing up with so-and-so").
Being on-site will never not be draining. But there are things we can do to keep energy levels up, make sure people stay motivated, and to help us cope with those things that do drain us.