Give a Kick Ass Pre-Shift.

Whether you’ve had to speak to a few servers and bartenders at your restaurant or give a full-on detailed scope of an event to a 50+ person catering team, pre-shifts can be tough! Regardless if you are an outgoing or soft-spoken individual, a pre-shift can be challenging. A pre-shift, in event terms, is a run-down of event details that a planner will convey to his or her team to ensure everyone is on the same page and working toward a similar goal throughout the event. It also eliminates many questions that can be answered right away.

In my experience, pre-shifts can be intimidating! Mostly because they aren’t JUST about informing your team. They’re also about building your team up, getting them excited about the event and ensuring your client is getting the best version of your company. I always feel that people perform better at a specific task when they Feel Prepared, Feel Important and Feel Excited. Those are my key components to consider when building a pre-shift speech for your team. Want to learn more? Read on.

  • Feeling Prepared: Give your team all the information, but don’t feel that you need to read it all (pre-shifts are long enough as it is). If time allows, give the team the pre-shift sheet early via email or even 10 minutes or so before you begin so that they can review all the fine print on their own and be prepared to lean in on the topics that require further explanation. I always feel that explaining the type of event and the timeline first helps lay the foundation for the rest of the details. Provide details on food and beverage, but again, don’t feel the need to explain item. Highlight a few fun passed apps and specialty cocktails, but let them review the rest. Be sure to give non-consumption details as well, such as location of bathrooms, smoking areas, high traffic areas to watch for, any issues you anticipate, back up plans and details of the event that could change during the event (yes, those happen. Especially with weddings!).

  • Feeling Important: This tip goes two ways: a pre-shift needs to highlight what is important to the client AND it needs to highlight how important the team is to ensure a successful event. As a planner, you have the advantage of speaking with your client for weeks or months prior to an event and learning all the small details that they care about. If Mary is fearing that the bar will be slammed at cocktail hour, let the team know and devise a plan of attack! If Chris is most looking forward to his bacon-wrapped date appetizer, send a server specifically to him with the app so he doesn’t miss it. In addition to letting the team know important details, you need to let them know how important THEY are. I personally love to call out people’s strengths when giving assignments. Let the bartenders know you personally picked them because they are amazing with big crowds. Or what about the servers greeting the guests with passed apps? Point out how their energetic personality and smile will surely make the guests feel at home. People LIKE TO BE RECOGNIZED for their attributes. I promise that if you let your team know that you see what they bring to the table, the best parts of them will shine.

  • Feeling Excited: Okay, you need to know that NO ONE will be excited for your event if YOU aren’t excited for your event!! Also, no one is going to listen to you if you start your pre shift by reading the entire pre-shift sheet to them (see: first bullet point). Mimic the energy you want to see. Most event set ups are difficult (okay, let’s be honest, some can be downright brutal!). It is your responsibility to pick the team back up and let them know that not only is the event is going to be amazing, but it will be successful because you all have fun working together! People will always feed off your energy, so it is important to always come to the pre-shift at energy level: 100. And don’t be shy! Being vulnerable makes you human… and people LOVE working with real people. Let them know just how much this event means to you as well as any other cool elements that may excite them. I once catered an event that had live sloths that you could pet. I let the team know about this weeks before the event and they were pumped to get a chance to pet one! It’s the little things that really can make a work day fun.

What has been your experience with pre-shifts? Love them? Prefer not to lead them? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!