It most definitely is! Anyone who has spent serious time and energy planning an event knows that when it’s all said and done you’re left with a sense of both accomplishment … and exhaustion.
In fact, it’s so common there’s even a name for it: The Letdown Effect. According to Dr. Shilagh A. Mirgain’s contribution to UW Health, “You have this mobilisation of inner energies to take action on something big, and afterward you think you’ll be exhilarated because you accomplished it, but you could have this letdown instead.”
Event planning is no small fete: you pour loads of mental energy, personal dedication, and spare time into making decisions and taking action, often over the course of months. You’re constantly planning, attending meetings, addressing road blocks, assessing risks, and tackling detail after detail (so many details!).
By the time the event is on hand, you’re SO ready for it to finally be here. Emotions tend to run high (fueled by adrenaline, of course!) and you’re excited and anxious all at the same time.
It’s no small thing to attend an event and know every single detail of how it was put together (along with all the things that almost fell apart, tried to go wrong, or resulted in chaos at some point along the way). But just because it’s finally here doesn’t mean your role has ended: most event planners find themselves having to be even more on top of their game than usual because live events are a whirlwind of moving parts.
While we’re talking about whirlwinds, I wanted to share something important:
No matter how detailed your plans are or how ready you feel, there is ALWAYS something unexpected that will happen onsite.
And the good news is, this is true for every conference organiser or event planner out there. So you can take a deep breath right now and assure yourself: snafus are normal and you should expect a few. All the best events have them!
Since you already know that, you can expect that there will be things out of your control. Be prepared to pull Plan B out of your back pocket and adjust course as needed. No one else will even notice; for all they know, things are happening exactly as planned.
Throughout the whole event (whirlwinds and upsets included), your adrenaline will be pumping, which tends to make the whole thing go by in a bit of a blur! Before you know it your guests will have left, you’ll have thanked your team, and you’ll be looking forward to hitting the sack for a solid night’s sleep. If you’re anything like me, you’ll sleep long and hard when you make it home!
But then … The Letdown Effect
You may feel it physically: exhausted, achy, a lingering headache.
You may feel it emotionally: irritable, discouraged, listless.
You may feel it in a way completely unique to you.
The only real guarantee is that you’ll probably feel some form of event fatigue as soon as your event is truly over.
As a conference organising pro, my best advice is to NOT fight against it.
Allow yourself to pass through whatever you’re feeling, emotional or physical, and trust that it will pass. Even if it takes 2-3 days, try to give yourself the necessary time to recover; you’ve got plenty of reasons to be tired!
Whenever someone exerts intense amounts of energy over a sustained period (like an event planner in the final days leading up to an event), it’s normal for them to need an adjustment period before they really get back to normal.
In 7 Practical Ways to Battle Post-Event Blues, Eileeen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D. shares that this need to slowly adjust back into regular life “… stems from the contrast between how we expected to feel when “the big event” was over and how we actually feel. Maybe it’s about just feeling at loose ends, not sure what to do with ourselves, because something that has been the overriding organising focus of our lives is now past. We tell ourselves, “I just have to make it to Friday, and this will be over!” But the jubilation at being done is often quickly followed by a sense of letdown.”
I heard about this first hand recently from one of Auaha’s amazing clients. As we were visiting, she shared with me that she was feeling really flat since the event had ended. She realised that we had been talking every single day over the past weeks, and that she had been deeply invested in the event’s success. Now she felt strange and lost.
Even though she had been excited to have extra time to invest into other projects at her job, it was like she didn’t quite know where to start. She felt distracted, and realised that the sense of constant urgency that event planning had provided had also been helping her focus. Now that she didn’t have that in her life, she was just wandering a bit, not really accomplishing much at work or at home.
I’ll tell you exactly what I told her: This is completely normal.
In fact, it’s so normal that at Auaha we have a post-event list of items to accomplish after an event finishes. The list has items that last for about a week after the event, and includes all sorts of things that give you a bit of purpose and urgency while also helping you slowly decelerate and ease back into normal life.
There are follow-up tasks such as updating your website, posting a new gallery of event images, and sending out thank-you letters or emails to event delegates and others who contributed. We also encourage you to spend some time analysing your registration numbers, debriefing with your team, and putting together a list of improvements you’d like to make for next year (even an amazing event will have taught you a few things you’ll do differently next time). This is a chance to really wrap things up neatly and reflect on your successes as well!
By completing these kind of post-event tasks you can slow down the pace; we can’t keep up that 200 mile per hour event planning speed forever, and we shouldn’t want to! Even the event superhumans of the world need a chance to ease off the gas a bit.
You’ll still find you need to get some extra rest when it’s all said and done, but hopefully you won’t experience too extreme of an energy or mood swing if you honour your needs and try out these tips!
And since I haven’t mentioned it yet … a hot bath, a bit of Netflix binging, and some one on one time with my bed is my perfect, event-ending treat.
Mā te wā!