Revenge of the Nerves! How to Handle Pressure on Event Night

Revenge of the Nerves: How to Handle Pressure on Event Night

6 min read
It’s event night and you’re feeling nervous.

That’s understandable, being your first ever ‘high stakes’ production. Then again, you’ve worked your butt off, planning everything to a tee. Of course you used this brilliant event planning template, so what could possibly go wrong?

Everything’s Going Swimmingly

You arrive extra early at the venue. Check everything’s in order. Check, check and check again. Guests start to arrive. Smiling, you greet them individually. Suddenly, a huge bunch pour in the door, milling closely around you, wanting to know their table number.

One complains loudly that her seat is too far at the back, another demands to know why his name isn’t on the list. The AV technician appears out of nowhere and pokes you impatiently on the shoulder…


And then it’s not…

Panic hits like a tsunami, your head spinning so fast it feels like it could fall off onto the floor. Your colleague says unhelpfully, “OMG. You look so frazzled!”

Half frozen, half wanting to bop your colleague on the nose, you wonder what’s happening.

It’s simply a bad case of nerves. Because, humans.

Freaking out about your event? It’s simply a bad case of nerves. Because, humans. Click To Tweet

With Event Management Comes A Little Pressure

Handling pressure is part and parcel of being a successful event manager. It’s especially the case on event night when everything happens so fast, all at once. The high pressure can be overwhelming, so it’s best to be prepared.

What to do When Panic Strikes

You strike back, because you’ve sooo got this! Follow these steps to put nerves back in their place:

1. Stop!

Know that it’s perfectly normal, and you’re certainly not the first event manager to react this way. It will pass, very soon. The key is to interrupt the negative thought process by saying (internally, in your mind) ‘Stop!’

2. Breathe

Breathing patterns often change under stress. Instead of using the diaphragm muscles, our shoulders take over to create smaller, shallower breaths. Sometimes we even forget to breathe for seconds at a time!

When you catch yourself doing this, focus on taking some slow, deep breaths. Breathe in through the nose to the count of 8, then out through the mouth to the count of 10. This signals to your whole body to slow down, calm down. It’s a surprisingly powerful thing to do in the heat of the moment.

3. Check Shoulders

Check the position of your shoulders. Are they up around your neck? Shoulders usually hunch up as soon as we feel tense. Be aware of them. Relax them. Let them drop.

4. Self-Affirm

Remind yourself: you’ve so got this! Even if something goes a little pear-shaped – which can happen to even the most experienced, super-organised event manager – staying calm and reassuring yourself will go a long way.

5. Say it Out Loud

Take the pressure off yourself and announce light-heartedly that you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. It’ll helps diffuse any worry you have that people think you’re acting strangely (plus it’ll knock the wind out of your puff-chested colleague!).

If you’re still feeling super anxious, try these:

6. Give Yourself Some Space

Excuse yourself with confidence and purpose:

“I’ll just go make a call and get this sorted right away,”


“Will you kindly excuse for one minute, I’ll be back to help you super quick.”

Go find yourself a quiet spot – the bathroom is always good – and give yourself time to re-compose.

7. Toss the Negative Thoughts

Changing your thinking is a powerful way to change the way you feel:

Imagine those pesky negative thoughts are sheets of old newspaper. You don’t need them. Crumple them into little balls and toss them far away. Gone!

The above strategies help you out in the heat of the moment when the pressure is completely overwhelming, and you have an attack of nerves for no apparent reason.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

The pressure can also reach extreme heights when something goes wrong on event night, during which you need to stay calm, clear-minded and professional.

Contingency Planning

Avoid the unpleasantly dizzy heights of anxiety by having a contingency plan in place. That means thinking through the event schedule and considering what you’d do in the event of any issues cropping up, such as:

  • Extreme weather
  • Technical problems
  • Power failure
  • Speaker suddenly falls ill
Stay Connected

Whatever you do, make sure you charge your phone! There’s nothing more stressful than a dead phone in the middle of an event crisis.

Use a Run Sheet

A run sheet sets out in order what needs to happen during the event from start to finish, set out by time, date, location and responsibility. Very few event managers would be without one!

The best run sheets include key contacts, so you can quickly call the appropriate person if needed:

  • Venue manager
  • Catering
  • Keynote speaker
  • MC
  • Entertainment
  • AV hire
  • Photographer
  • Logistics manager

Download our purpose-designed Event Run Sheet. It’ll save you time and avoid mega-stress in the event of things going pear-shaped.

Download the run sheet here

Stay Calm and Carry On With The Show

Being human, and on top of that an event manager, you may come up against nerves and stressful situations. Equipped with these clever strategies, you’ll stay cool as a cucumber so you can think clearly and act swiftly, and your event will be every bit as amazing as you wanted it to be.

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About the Author

Jo Tilgals

From managing a Tokyo restaurant to establishing a catering business, the customer has always been at the heart of Josephine’s career. Jo’s high-level communication skills, broad experience and caring manner are the perfect match for your event projects. She handles all details of contracts, invoicing and briefing, freeing up your valuable time and assuring your event will be a huge success.

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