You talked about your plans with your friends face to face, you made a Facebook event page and invited them - but people still seem to flake out on you. What gives? Well, you're still not making it easy enough for them.
Photo by Drew Coffman.
I have a friend who is really good at organising friendly gatherings that people always show up to. Like, really good. Whether it's a party, a hike, a dinner, a holiday, or just a day at the beach, when he puts something together, everybody is on board. These are the two essential tips I've learned from him over the years.
People are lazy, and busy. If your event requires them to do any sort of work - even something as simple as making a decision - their interest will wane. So, you need to do almost everything for them before you even invite them. That means deciding on a location, a time and the activity, as well as giving them all they information they need right from the start.
Don't give people options or ask them questions about their preferences, just present them with an activity they can only say "yes" or "no" to. Then, you want to give them so much information about said activity that the only thing they have to do is show up and have a good time. The less they have to try, the more likely they are to commit.
Never Stop Hosting
OK, you got people to show up this time, but you need to show them a fun, easy time so they will also want to show up next time. You can do this by continuing to host, help and provide information after people have already arrived. Be the one to provide guidance, do the crap work, and encourage people to have a good time. Once you give up trying, so will they.
When you're planning a party that's going to feature drinking, one of the worst things you can do is just not invite your sober friends. Oh, they don't drink, I don't want to make them uncomfortable. Let them make that call for themselves. And there's a lot you can do to make sure sober guests will feel welcome and comfortable at a party, even if other people are drinking.
The best way I can explain this is through an example. When my friend plans a beach day, this is what he does:
- Decides on a day and time. This only ever shifts if a majority of people invited suggest another day and time that seems to work better for all involved.
- Decides on a beach, then notes why he chose that beach over others. He shares those notes later so the conversation never shifts to "But what about this other beach..."
- Creates a Facebook event, then adds directions, helpful links, and lists his phone number with a "Don't hesitate to call me if you need something" type message.
- Sends out invites, often via text message and the Facebook invite. He's aware that not everybody checks their Facebook everyday, and knows that some people just blow off their event tabs. He lets people know they're more than a check mark when he invites them.
- Sends out a reminder message a couple of days before and offers help if anybody needs it. He's let me borrow a boogie board a few times, has offered to pick up food for me, given other people rides, and usually gives parking tips for the location ahead of time. He makes it hard to say no!
- On the day of the gathering, he makes sure to be the first one there to set up. Then he sends a map with a pin exactly where he's set up at.
- Once everyone is there, he does whatever it takes to make sure everyone else is having a good time. Even if it means doing something a little less fun for a while in order to help.
It's a lot of work, sure, but he always succeeds at bringing people together and still has a good time when he does it. So, next time you want to get people together, over-plan and over-deliver. Make it easy for your friends to show, then take it a step further. Eventually people won't be able to say no to your invites.