When it comes to event management, very few rules are set in stone. Because every event is different, each one requires a unique approach. To be a great event manager, then, you need to be as flexible as you are organized. This flexibility is what lets you adapt, learn, and change to make each event better.
Don’t just manage an event. Instead, make all of your events legendary with these 10 tips for better event management:
If you’re coordinating with an event planner, she might send a list of objectives your way. If not, work with your client to come up with concrete goals for the event. Make these goals as specific as possible. How many cars do you want the parking staff to move each hour? How many questions are you hoping to fit into one question and answer session? Use numbers wherever possible.
The sooner you can confirm the details of an event, the better. Start making calls as much as a year in advance so that you can lock down your venue and take advantage of vendors’ early-bird specials. While it’s important to make flexible agreements in this early period (you don’t, after all, know how many participants to expect yet), reaching out to venues and vendors early on saves you time, money, and headache down the road.
Every event is different. Vendors understand this, which is why many offer custom services with flexible pricing. Instead of asking vendors for a quote, figure out how much you’re willing to pay, and then offer the vendor between 5-10% less. This way, even if the vendor negotiates up, you’ll stay on budget and, in many cases, save money.
Event management is all about networking. Stay in close contact with the venues and vendors you love to work with. When you need them, they’ll be there for you. Keep former colleagues and volunteers close too. Build effective staff and volunteer teams quickly and painlessly by mobilizing your extensive social network.
Don’t shy away from new event technology. To get ahead, embrace innovative changes that advance the event experience. There are plenty of ways to integrate new technology and event management:
If you decide to incorporate unfamiliar technology into your event, make sure you have someone on staff who understands the new technology inside and out. Put this person in charge of troubleshooting issues during the event.
Every event, from high-stakes performances to high school award ceremonies, deserves a run through. Schedule a rehearsal—with staff, volunteers, and (if possible) presenters on hand—a week before the event. This leaves you enough time to make significant changes to the event program, but gives staff and volunteers enough time to prepare beforehand. Test all technology during the rehearsal.
The key to managing a great event is understanding the participant’s experience. On the day of the event, focus on the participants as much as your duties allow. Read the room. Talk with people. Collect data with real-time feedback surveys.
Take time to debrief with your team after each event. Discuss what went well and what didn’t with a group made up of critical staff, all staff, or both staff and volunteers. These debriefing sessions are a great way to get people’s impressions and suggestions while the event is still fresh in their minds.
Don’t leave participants, staff, or volunteers hanging after they’ve packed up and gone home. Follow up with each group by email a week after the event. In the email, include a link to a final feedback survey capable of collecting actionable advice by asking questions specific to each group:
Also, send thank you emails to the venue and vendors who made the event possible. Let each party know that you appreciate the hard work they put in and that you want to stay in contact.
Put what you’ve learned into action by making positive changes after each event. Review the feedback you receive from participants, staff, and volunteers to weed out inefficiencies in your event management style. Here are ways to eliminate a few common issues: