10 points of wisdom from 25 years of managing events

10 points of wisdom from 25 years of managing events

In the events industry, they say you are only as good as your last event. There is a lot of truth in that. But really every event you manage builds new insight and learning, and over time that experience allows you to face even the toughest challenges and still come out on top. On top means producing an event that runs smoothly and seamlessly, from the perspective of both client and attendee. People don't notice what's going on because everything 'just works'.

An experienced Professional Conference Organiser knows how to make things 'just work'. They possess a confidence in the face of last minute changes, unruly weather, technology challenges, venue mishaps, accidents, illnesses, and the like.

This blog presents some of my small wisdoms from over 25 years of managing events, both large and small.

  1. Ensure that you understand fully what your client wants, and clarify how you will deliver on that. What will success look like for your client, and for the attendees? Is there a shared understanding?
  2. Plan, and get your team involved in the planning: plan thoroughly. Document the plans and share them so that everyone is clear on what needs to happen and when. Make sure your team can access the plans when they need to. They are your eyes and ears on the ground.
  3. Then accept that not everything will go to plan: even the best-laid plans are subject to a little bit of shift. Given the fast-paced and changeable world we live in, this is to be expected. What counts is not what happens, but how you manage what happens next. Mostly attendees don't know what you have planned, and they may not even notice that something has deviated from what was intended.
  4. Make sure that everyone on the event team knows their role and what is expected of them. If it is a big event, it is advisable to have one person responsible for each major element.
  5. Learn to keep calm and carry on. Emotional resilience and calm pays dividends. Getting wrapped up in the hype of a situation and feeding into it is easy, but unhelpful. Clients and attendees look to you for answers. If your approach is professional and centred, you have a better chance of getting to the bottom of a situation and finding the right answer.
  6. Remember – nothing is insurmountable. Sometimes you just need to take a few deep breaths to gain perspective and a solution presents itself.
  7. Trust your instincts. There's not much more to say here. When you have managed many events, you get a feel for the 'right' choice.
  8. Know who your safe pairs of hands are.It's not possible to be everywhere all the time. Have a second 'safe pair of hands', someone who is able to be your point of reference and calm in a place that needs it.
  9. Be persistent.Persistence wins the game, even when you seem unpopular for it.
  10. Enjoy delivering an impeccable event.You're in this industry for a reason – to deliver impeccable events. Don't forget to enjoy it along the way.