April 16, 2014

5 Must-Haves For Any Event Manager

When it comes to running successful events, nothing is more valuable than experience. The more experience you can gain, the better – and that goes for learning from others\’ experience too. Here is a guest post by Event Manager Josh Pattison from Wonderful Events, specialists in the creation, organisation and sales of B2B events. Josh, take it away…

The event industry is a highly competitive and fast-paced environment. It is important when thinking about getting involved in the industry that you display the following five traits to ensure you firstly stand out and secondly, don’t get swallowed up by it all!

1. Organisation, that’s the key!

One of the key attributes to being a successful event manager has got to be organisation. It may sound obvious, but every aspect of an event needs to be choreographed in order for it to run smoothly. If you keep on top of things and make sure you are paying attention to detail then you’ll have very few issues when it comes to event day. Now, everyone has their own methods to staying organised, but what has helped me is a fantastic app called, ‘Wunderlist’. It’s an interactive to-do list which allows you to upload files, create sub tasks, add notes and best of all shares your list with colleagues! You’ll never forget anything ever again and neither will anyone on your team. Having everything stored in one place makes life so much easier. As an event manager you can NEVER be too organised!

2. People over projects

The event industry is all about people. People people people! There is interaction on every level from the client to suppliers even to the guests on the day. Now, I am aware that naturally some people are introverts and others extroverts but regardless of your
tendencies if you want to work in events you need to become a people person fast! But it doesn’t stop there. It’s also learning the art of putting people first, above the project. You can be an excellent project manager but if you don’t make the client feel like the most important person, things can spiral out of control quickly. It’s all about building long lasting relationships and not just getting the job done quickly. If you can nail this then your life in events will become easier, more enjoyable and sustainable with lasting connections!

3. “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken”

The above saying I heard when I first started managing events. Unfortunately, I can’t
remember where and so am unable to give credit where it’s due but it certainly impacted my career. The reality is that in our industry nothing is certain, ever. Something can change in a second and if you’re not able to respond quickly and make the most out of the situation you’re presented with, then you’re not going to last long. Like one of those ‘Superflex’, rulers you need to be able to bend in ANY direction without shattering into lots of little pieces, figuratively of course. This does come with practice and experience, don’t get me wrong, but there is one thing you can do that makes the world of difference. Always have a back-up plan! As an event manager you never want all your eggs to be in one basket! So it’s simple really, make sure you have lots of baskets.

4. The art of communication

Peter Druker, a famous management guru once said, ‘The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said,’ and how right he is. Communication is a real art; not only do you need to correctly interpret what’s being said but as an event manager you need to pick up what isn’t being said and fill in the gaps. Now how do you do that, I hear you say and again experience certainly does help. But if you don’t have those years of experience my tip to you is spend time thinking and writing down targeted questions for the client before you meet. Don’t wait until you’re in the meeting or the project is already underway. Preparation is vital; what do you need to know and is your understanding the same as theirs? It only takes a small amount of miscommunication and a hint of assumption for things to go horribly wrong. To assume is to make an, ‘ASS’ out of ‘U’ and ‘ME,’ so just don’t do it.

5. The truth of time management

And finally, a well-known truth to those in the event industry: there is always going to be too much to do and not enough time to do it. Fact. It took a while for that truth to set in and for me to realise that no matter how hard I try my to-do list is never going to be fully complete. However, once you accept it as a reality and focus on managing the time you do have effectively, you will find you still end up getting everything done. Effective time management is a skill that needs to be practiced, but what helps is learning to prioritise and knowing what is urgent and what actually can wait another day to be completed. In order for you to prioritise you need to set goals and deadlines for when things need to be completed. Before starting any project, once you understand all the factors, map out everything that needs doing and give it a deadline. And don’t forget to allow yourself a, ‘safety period,’ of half a day or a full day, which basically takes into account the reality that life doesn’t always run according to plan. Then it’s down to you and your team to stick to those deadlines and watch your project come to completion!

So there you have it. Five tips I hope you find helpful if you’re planning to become or already are an event manager in a fast paced, competitive industry!

Josh Pattison is an Event Manager at Wonderful Events. You can follow them on Twitter @EventWonderful. Thanks so much to Josh for his words of wisdom and, if you’ve any lessons from the field to add, comment below or tweet us @ticketscript.