I recently had a conversation with my husband who is a professional chef about the importance of mise en place. The French term meaning “put in place” refers to the disciplined organization of all ingredients and equipment prior to cooking. To a chef, the proper mise en place can make the difference between a flawlessly executed dish or wasting time and energy finding the lemons that you forgot. But more than that, it is a way of being so prepared that no matter what the situation presents, you can adjust and still deliver the expected results.
I started thinking about what the “proper mise en place” would be for successful event execution. Although we don’t call it mise en place, there are several critical elements that must be organized and “put in place” prior to implementation. Here is my mise en place for a great event recipe.
- Event objectives – In order to capitalize on an event investment, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the end goal. Is it to build an audience, celebrate employees, motivate a team, disseminate information or perhaps multiple aims? The objectives are the backbone of event planning and should drive all decision making.
- Your audience – Are the attendees invited guests, employees, the public? Knowing your demographic will help determine the structure of the event – from the venue to the activities offered and even the music selected. Planning intelligently for the right audience helps establish a connection with them and make a true impact.
- Budget parameters –Every event has a budget. It saves time and effort to start with realistic projections. Also, just as a chef “cleans as he goes” it is important to update the budget with any scope changes on a regular basis.
- Timeline – This is roadmap for the planning process. Similar to a recipe, it outlines necessary steps that need to occur in each area of planning so that nothing gets overlooked. To determine deadlines, work backwards from the event date. With deliverables such as attendee communications and printed material (signage, name badges, etc.) remember to build in time for edits, approvals, shipping, etc.
- Venue – The venue selected can make a huge impact on the event itself. Is there ample space? Does it have the right “vibe” for the event? Performing a site inspection is critical in the selection process. Having a solid understanding of the space you are working with including sight lines, flow of attendee traffic and even dimensions of the rooms are essential in making a vision come to life.
- Clear and fluid communication – This cannot be stressed enough. Timely and consistent meetings with team members, clients, vendor partners and even audience communications must be planned and adhered to. Like in a kitchen, team members should have clear roles and responsibilities so that everyone is working together towards the final “dish.”
- Technology –Where a chef might select a robocoupe over a blender, we might determine which registration software makes the most sense for the project. Should you use a mobile app for check in or an RFID bar code? Based on budget and client goals, an event professional must employ the correct technology for the event.
- A solid on-site plan – What time is the loading dock free? How many printers are needed? When are the VIPs arriving? How many temps are needed at registration? All of these fine details are outlined in a day-by-day production schedule, putting the event concept into creation.
- Flexibility – just like in life, events do not happen in a vacuum. Changes are the norm, not the exception. Have a plan and then be prepared to bend it. Just like a chef, with a well-structured mise en place, anything can get thrown at you and you can handle it.
With these ingredients put in place, a successful event is ready in the making!