Before we go to my very own definition of event management, let’s hear what Google has to say about this.
And now my definition: AN EIGHT-TENTACLE WOLF.
1 – THE EVENT HAS ALREADY STARTED
Events start as soon as they are contracted and not at the event date per se.
However, complying with budgets requires negotiation. Innovation and risks should be taken to achieve amazement. Responsibilities should be delegated. Customers should be kept informed and calm. And, in addition, all machine parts should move on schedule – from project approval to disassembly completion.
2 – FEET ON THE GROUND AND EARS EVERYWHERE
We learn from experience how to anticipate almost all problems while plans are already in motion. Every day we deal with the unexpected. Knowing how to be flexible in order to find solutions to overcome obstacles without compromising end results is part of our role.
The good thing about the unexpected is that it turns us away from comfort and make us take a look around before taking the next step. This step can lead to a positive turnaround despite often being the result of some ‘limitation’. And we may end up with a different but more creative and effective result.
The secret to finding these solutions lies in two premises: being realistic and knowing how to listen.
This way, we have to play with what we have in the time we were given. And that is why we should keep our ‘feet on the ground’ when we are excited about that one idea that seems to end all our problems and consequently analyse all impact factors until we are able to confirm this idea’s viability.
On the other side, there’s no such thing as too much information. We should always be good listeners. Because solutions may often be in our memories (or notes). Like in our references to chats with colleagues. Or in meetings with vendors. Visits to sites. Or in partner suggestions or any other type of information exchange.
Learning how to hold on to all the things that may be of interest to us is an ability that should be developed daily.
3 – THE EVENT’S NINTH TENTACLE
We should identify a team member as our ‘right hand’ whenever possible. When I look back, I realise I managed quite complex projects where I was the only one knowing about certain details or the implication of those same details in event unfolding. And this is the kind of irresponsibility/naivety that may end up jeopardising the service we provide. Or the work of a team that may consequently harm the final goal of the event.
But going back to dealing with the unexpected, nobody’s free from bad luck in the day of an important event. And that is why a substitute ‘me’ is so important. In case this is not feasible, all relevant details to the line-up should be shared.
Whatever the case, we should never forget that our work is made of moments and that ‘repeating’ a moment or going back to before a poor result is not possible.
4 – THE WOLF PACK
Event success is always depending on a number of players of several fields. This way, when planning, all elements must relate and communicate to each other. Because confidence is part of a united team that focuses on the same goal.
On the day of the event, the team should already be working as a ‘wolf pack’. That is, all elements must respect leadership that should not only be focused on final goal but also aware of the well-being of all team elements.
5 – THE CUSTOMER, EVERYONE ELSE AND I
Managers are likely to build a close, trustworthy relationship with customers during planning. Our first event with a customer may take us by surprise when it comes to implementing all our thoroughly prepared plans. Anxiety and stress may take over even the most pleasant personalities.
In fact, managing customers during setups may be the hardest task among the entire process. We should focus on filtering the information we convey while creating boundaries so customers don’t disrupt the wolf pack.
We shouldn’t neglect to remember our vendors that we are their customers and we should also demand high standards. But mostly we should communicate clearly and calmly and try not to convey anxiety that can easily be seen as lack of confidence.
We should be careful to build a relationship with every element even those who are just joining for the final rehearsal. I learned this from a customer who, to my surprise, wanted to greet everybody who was working in the event.
She introduced herself and greeted every single catering employee, control room technician, security guard, cleaning team element, internet team member, promoter and so on.
At first, I was restless because we should meet promptly in order to close the line-up. But while I was watching her and trying to keep calm, I realised that I was working there for over 9 hours and hadn’t thought of that. I felt ashamed. The truth is that spending some minutes with the people we are relying on is just a basic, essential action, mainly to those who intend to lead.
We started calling everyone by their names during the setup. Because we are mostly a pack made of people.
6 – THE HANGOVER / AFTER-EVENT
After being involved in a project for so long, the event comes and goes all of a sudden without us even realising. This is without a doubt the longest hangover ever. Inevitably, the end of an event leaves an empty space. But also keeps us foolishly worried and alert even after the event has passed. Even in the cases where all went well and we go back home carrying a handful of compliments and memorable moments, there is nothing preventing fatigue from giving us nightmares where we live the most terrifying scenarios.
Like rain that is falling right in the centre of the audience. A power failure at the venue. Promoters who disappear during reception peaks. A glass that breaks during main speaker’s speech. Food that is just OK. One hired bar that is just not enough. A microphone that echoes. Or the internet signal that fails during a video call while in stage with the renowned star that couldn’t come.
We wake up startled and are relieved to realise that that never happened.
That the event has already passed. And that our feet are still hurting from the kilometres made back and forth while waving our eight tentacles with our conductor’s batons making sure that: lights would turn blue at 7:23 pm. Chairs would be removed from scene in less than 30 seconds. Customers would find a second copy of their speech hidden in the pulpit when they couldn’t find the first copy inside their pockets. Promoters who were yawning would go take a rest. Someone would get a pill for the sound technician complaining of a headache. Snacks would be warm and aprons would be without wrinkles. The designated driver would be waiting for the guest artist the moment he went off stage.
Among other accomplishments that we keep for ourselves.
And so our next 2 to 3 days are like this, depending on the intensity and preparation period preceding these series of episodes that constitute the event.
7 – CONCLUSION
Anyway, events always lead to more or less intense hangovers.
Good events result in hangovers so intense as the energy we get to embrace the next event.
I will now show you the three events that I enjoyed doing the most: