I’ve written about event management a couple of times before (here and here, for example). However, I’ve not written about the activity in a comprehensive way because I have this lurking fear that if people see me writing about event management so much, they’ll think I like it and want to do more of it. I don’t. Seriously. However, my time in event management (2010-2018) was highly educational in multiple ways, so I’ll give it a go. Also, I like to teach, and that’s what this site is all about. Some of you might be event planners/managers, for all I know.
Event Management Overview
I’ll assume you either volunteered or got volunteered to run an event because others recognized that you are an organized and level-headed person. And, as an older friend told me once when I was stressing about the hotel business, “It’s not rocket science.” Indeed. Event management is about organizing a particular activity for multiple people at a particular place and time. The event could be a one-time happening or a multiple-day convention with speakers, vendors, sponsors, meals, and entertainment. It helps to focus on the goal: arrange a great event well so the people participating enjoy themselves or accomplish what they need to without a lot of friction.
If it’s a straightforward process and not, as noted, rocket science, why is event planning one of the most stressful jobs in America?
Anyone who has hosted friends or family at their home can tell you why: there’s a lot of responsibility and detail to make the event go well. There might or might not be teamwork required. You might have technology to contend with. You might have multiple people trying to be in charge.
Here are just some of the topics regarding conference management that occurred to me as I was brainstorming this blog:
- Brainstorming and selecting ideas
- Staffing for events
- Writing the proposal
- Pitching the conference
- Taking action once you’ve been selected
- Securing volunteers and delegating authority
- Establishing and sticking to a schedule
- Setting a budget, setting prices, and raising money
- Negotiating and signing contracts with the event location staff (hotel, conference center, other venues)
- Conducting meetings
- Maintaining morale/leading volunteers
- Interacting with upper management
- Conducting site inspections, selecting meals, etc.
- Publicizing your event
- Handling team departures
- Solving problems when things go wrong (and they will at some point)
- Managing registration logistics
- Setting up the exhibitors room
- Inviting and selecting speakers
- Setting up and managing the event schedule
- Organizing special/side events
- Running the awards banquet
- Cultivating and establishing benefit packages for sponsors
- Dressing your staff/volunteers
- Selecting/managing audio/visual equipment
- Handing live-streamed video online
- Designing and maintaining the conference website
- Staffing and identifying the event roles
- Setup and breakdown
- Managing the event in real time
- Celebrating after the event
That’s content for 8 months if I posted one topic a week, if I felt so inclined. This is, after all, a technical writing blog, not a page about event management. However, again, I do like to teach (at least in literary form), and I hate to see fellow technical writers or introverts struggle unnecessarily. And while event management does tend to favor extroverts, my experiences will show that it’s not required that you be a natural extrovert. However, it will require you to be more social and talkative than you might be used to. You might not be comfortable working in a leadership position, but that’s not the same thing as saying you can’t be a leader. You can. Event management requires some of the skill sets you need to be a technical writer, including organizing information, making and sticking to a schedule, working with a team, and communicating in written and verbal form.
So keep an eye out for additional posts on this multi-faceted topic and career skill. Some of you might even find that you like it!