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Mastering The Art of Delegation




Delegation is an art. It requires the event manager to give up control over parts of a project so he or she doesn’t have to be everywhere at once. In a typical business setting, managers work with team members, get to know their strengths and weaknesses, and coach them throughout the process.

But nothing is typical about event planning. Every event is as individual as the organizations that sponsor them. Event planners work with new crews at almost every event – the venue’s management, the catering staff, the sponsoring company and the volunteers. Before you burn yourself out trying to be a superstar at every task, teach yourself the art of delegation.

How to Choose Tasks to Delegate

No one knows your business better than you do. But you aren’t the only person who knows how to do every job in your industry. If you’ve hired good people you trust, delegation should be easy, right? Identify key players who have skills you need. Who’s good at greeting speakers? Who’s good at making snap decisions during crunch time? Who’s so resourceful, you can ask them to do anything, like taking the swimming pool cover off of the back garden pool to improve the ambience of the event?

Look at your event checklist. Match the personalities and experience to the tasks, and start delegating now.

What Not To Delegate

Client-sensitive tasks, especially those having to do with your client’s budget, stay under your watchful eye. In fact, any decisions that affect the event budget, like tipping the catering staff, should go through you. You also should not delegate your thank-you notes. If anyone deserves a heartfelt thank you for pulling off a successful event and making you look good, send him or her a personal note.

The Biggest Mistake Delegators Make

Responsibility without authority will cause more problems than your list of delegated tasks will solve. If the people to whom you delegate responsibilities don’t have the authority to make decisions, the event crew might ignore them or disregard their requests. For example, be clear with everyone at the event who is responsible for audio and video equipment. Prior to the event, email who is responsible for each task to everyone who will work the event. On the day of the event, pow-wow with your teams to ensure they understand who has authority to make decisions.

Remember to explain to the staff how to reach the decision-makers. This seems like an obvious statement, but it is often overlooked.

Your Role as Event Manager

Your positive, can-do attitude is key to pulling of an event with few glitches (let’s face it, every event has a glitch or two). Event planner Len Herstein of ManageCamp, Inc. tells SmartMeetings.com that the best event planners think like marketers. They anticipate what the client will need, and they truly listen to them.

Your role as event manager is to listen to your clients and communicate clearly with event staff. Leave nothing to assumptions or interpretations.

One Task You Might Overlook

During your event, assign someone the task of monitoring social media to see what attendees say about the event. Create hashtags for attendees to use on Twitter, and encourage them say positive things about the event, the speakers and the host. Your social media monitor will watch what people Tweet about the event, and he or she will report to you any areas of concern. You’ll pass the word along to the people to whom you’ve delegated. If people are complaining about the temperature in the main hall, you can send a text message to the building’s manager. Your client will be impressed with your ability to be everywhere at one time.

Reduce Your Stress

Careercast.com lists event planning as the sixth most stressful job, and you know why. You're right up there with soldiers, firefighters, airline pilots, military generals and police officers. You carry a lot of responsibility. The stakes are high for your client, and the success of one big event can make or break your career.

The final step in delegation is the post-event debrief. Follow up with your lieutenants and review what went wrong and what went right during the event. Give them feedback on how they can improve next time, and be open to their feedback.
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