Burnout … It’s Real!


We’ve all experienced it – but how can we prevent it?

Let’s paint a picture: it’s January 15th, and it’s the closing night of the Stage Manager’s third event of the year. They have two more events, in two different cities, next week, and one in Asia at the beginning of February. They are dedicated to calling the best show possible every single time and their personal drive to excel combined with a busy schedule, last minute changes, and a responsibility to their crew … not to mention the constant travel and time away from family … has led to them feeling exhausted, defeated, and constantly stressed.

In short, the Stage Manager is burned out.

Around this time of year, we start to hear a lot about burnout, and it’s easy to see why. The year is rapidly coming to a close, year-end numbers are due, large-scale events are right around the corner, and the holiday season makes quick communications more challenging than ever. People begin to get stressed… and then they get more stressed … and the busiest time of the year hasn’t even started yet! More than just a buzzword, burnout is a very real phenomenon but there are ways to reduce the effects of burnout for you and your colleagues. 

Keep reading to learn more about helping your team, and yourself, minimize the impact of burnout.

Helping Your Team

Event professionals are not only handling their own burnout, but trying to help their teams through it – and the key to this is often organization. Creating and following through on a process gives clear expectations and direction to all team members, allowing everybody to know what they are responsible for.

Following this process is vital but what is even more vital is communication. It is you and your team’s responsibility to communicate, communicate, communicate, communicate. Communicate with the client, communicate with each other, communicate with external event staff, communicate with vendors. Communicate early, and communicate often.

Communication is the key to avoiding chaotic situations as much as possible. Sometimes a deadline isn’t realistic, or there isn’t full visibility to everything that each person is doing. This creates situations where deadlines are missed, work is duplicated, and things fall through the cracks, leaving the whole team scrambling. Honestly communicating with each other will keep expectations reasonable and help balance the workload evenly among team members.

Helping Yourself

Event techs are used to working alone leading up to an event and in large, often unfamiliar teams, once the event begins. Because of this, preventing burnout can look quite different for event techs than it does for production partners leading up to events.

We recommend that event techs work as hard as possible before a show begins, freeing up more time for later. Get all tasks done as soon as possible, rather than scheduling to do them at a later date, when time may be hard to come by.

It’s also important to find something that will bring a smile to your face every day. Whether it be a 3pm Starbucks beverage (it may have a wildly complicated name, but it’s delicious), a Facetime call with a friend or family member, or a long, hot shower right before bed, having something to look forward to will keep you motivated.

What else can help individuals leading into events? Communication! That’s right, we’re saying it here, too! Be sure to communicate timelines clearly and effectively, and be honest about what you need. Oftentimes, other technical positions, stage managers, and clients may not understand how long their request may take to accomplish. If their timeline is unrealistic, it’s okay to say so … kindly inform them so that everybody has the same expectations.

Understand What You Can Control … and What You Can’t

Adhering to fire marshal codes, making sure the correct version of PowerPoint decks and videos are uploaded into playback computers, ensuring that all microphones have fresh batteries, keeping the backstage space clean and organized. What do all of these things have in common? As an event professional, they are in your (or the responsible person’s) control.

On the other hand, there are situations you can’t control and you need to be ok with that! Keynote speaker is late to arrive (and hasn’t rehearsed, of course), a fire alarm goes off during your hazeless event, dinner service takes an hour longer than expected … these are all possible but there’s no need to carry the weight alone.

By understanding what is and is not inside of your control, you’re focusing your energy where it really matters.

Communicating Team Needs

While we want to be understanding of our own needs and bandwidth, we never want to communicate externally that we are burned out. Customers are often just as stressed out and exhausted as event professionals are and by showing any strain, they may lose confidence or begin to worry that things aren’t going to plan. This tends to put a larger strain on everyone.

Instead, communicate timelines and explain the significance of them, checking in frequently when any information or feedback is due from the client. Keep communications calm, straightforward, and friendly. We’re all on the same side so instead of worrying each other, let’s work together to produce an incredible event!

At Encompass, we have unique backgrounds that situate us perfectly to produce high end and complex offerings. We’ve worked in broadcast television, touring entertainment, live sporting events, and countless convention facilities across the country.

We have technical design experience and a disciplined process in place that allows us to easily scale events and shift from in-person to virtual without angst. There isn’t much that’s beyond our scope and we love the intensity of putting on events!

If you’re a planner working to create an event, seeking help with virtual event technology, or simply want to learn more … we can help! Sign up below to receive our updates (we promise to keep your contact information secure and won’t “overshare”).