Secret Sauce of Event Planning

Secret Sauce of Event Planning

The Complete Guide to Successful Event Planning

I’m a professional magician. As such, I’m invited to perform at all types of events: house parties, schools, weddings, corporate offices, banquets, universities, churches, etc. In all of these events, I’ve identified the Secret Sauce of Event Planning behind what makes some events finger-lickin-good and the ones that are….well… tasteless.

Ok…here it is – drum roll please – good communication. Okay, so no big surprise. But wait. Don’t miss this! How often have you heard someone who was being chewed out say, “But I didn’t know that,” or “Well, I thought you meant…FILL-IN-THE-BLANK.”

Good Communication

Good communication in event planning boils down to a parallel with my mother’s southern cooking. A good cook and a good event planner start out with getting a clear understanding from their boss, their client, or their family. They try to nail down with as much precision as they can, just what the desired outcome of the event will be.

Detailed Project Plan

When Mom found out just what kind of meal the birthday child wanted for their celebration, then she went to work. She would detail her list of what she would need for all of the fixins. (Nowadays we call that a project plan). From that list, she’d communicate with us. She’d set one kid to assessing what was in the cabinets and in the freezer. (Read that as delegating tasks). With that information, she’d jot down a shopping list and a budget for the special dinner.

A trip to the grocery store would be scheduled. Yes, she made sure that we knew that we had to be home to make the trip with her. One by one, we’d be sent on our errands within the store to fetch the various items on her list. Line by line, she’d cross things off of her project plan…err..ahh..shopping list. Now, before she’d cross things off, she would inspect what we brought her. Communication was clear and quick, when we brought her the wrong thing (assessment and feedback).

Once back at the house, she’d begin cooking. For some dishes, she might start cooking a day or two early. She hated waiting to the last minute to do things. (Did you catch that?) Often she would get one of us to help chop the vegetables, and whatnot (delegation).

Monitor Your Progress

With pots on the stove and food in the oven, she would keep watch over it. At times, she would stop and taste something. You might then see her hand reach up for a bottle of some exotic spice. She’d adjust the flame…sometimes higher…sometimes lower.

Communicate & Delegate

Keeping close watch on what was happening with the food was critical. If she went to take a nap, the last thing you wanted to do was forget to turn a pot off at whatever time she said. Sometimes she’d yell downstairs just to make sure that we turned that pot off at the right time (confirming communication). If you did forget, then that was good food gone bad.  She, nor we, liked wasting good food. At the end of the day we all got to celebrate the occasion and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

The result of helping Mom cook was learning a little about the secret sauce of good communication, making a plan, accessing your supplies, budgeting, delegation, tracking your progress, and of course celebrating once our work was completed.

Mom (aka Joyce Douglas) is no longer with us. She was a foster mother and life-long parent to dozens of us boys. We miss her somethin awful. Even so, her life lessons have stayed with us about cooking, communication, and a little event planning.

Talk Back

What lessons from your childhood apply to event planning today? I’d love your comments.

Recommended Resources

If you would benefit from more a more in depth resource on event planning, consider this affiliate resource:

The Complete Guide to Successful Event Planning with Companion CD-ROM REVISED 2nd Edition

Resource Review
“Shannon Kilkenny provides checklists, timelines, and money saving tips that anyone can use in any circumstance whether it’s a social event or a business event. The author also discusses those situations that most of us have nightmares about and gives tips and ideas on what to do when something goes wrong, as it invariably will. The book is filled with creative insight, step-by-step walkthroughs, and a lively sense of humor. In addition, the book comes with a CD packed with templates, guides, certifications, evaluations, room design, and numerous other guidelines and resources.”


Michael R. Douglas is a comedy magician who entertains with magic shows at corporate events and private parties. For availabilty and pricing, reach him at www.michaeldouglasmagic.com/contact-michael

Written by Michael

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