I actually knew nothing about events when I started working on my first event. I quickly realised it was going to be a ‘learn as you go’ type of experience. That event was the Hampshire leg of the 1994 Tour de France. The event was a great success and in truth we got away with it.
I reflect. Was it the best way to learn the event trade – some would say yes: others me included think some sort of structured event planning training would really have helped.
Sink or swim…you choose
Most of us would agree there is no substitute for real life event planning work experience. It is the best way to learn. Well yes it is BUT…it needs to be done in the right way. Without help, knowledge or guidance it can in fact be a very damaging experience. I’ve met a lot people in my event training travels who of were handed a ‘unique learning experience’…to plan and deliver an event and never wish to do one ever again. They were dumped right in it and left to flounder in this most public of arenas. To ensure this is less likely to happen, the provision of some kind of guided support or training will help give rookie event planners the tools to tackle the ‘live’ experience; with more confidence and a greater chance of success.
So how have I learnt to be an event manager?
Yes I had my…well there’s the deep end and let’s hope you can swim moment in 1994. I might add that nobody around me at the time had any real idea about major event planning and the web was really just an idea back then. Anyway, I survived more by luck than judgement and 20 years on I continue to love the wonderful world of events. Yes I do very occasionally wonder why I have said ‘yes’ to certain projects. But I am sucker for new stuff and a challenge.
Having got the event bug and with no formal events training available at the time (it’s very different now) I needed to teach myself how to be an event manager. While I accept some of us just get it. The vast majority of us will need to learn the ‘how to’ of events.
How do you learn to be an event manager?
Well here’s what I DO and not what I DID. It’s important to note that I class myself as a continuous learner. Just so I can stand still – in this most dynamic of industries. This is an on-going process.
I always attend lots of different types of events. Why…because in my experience good ideas can be found in all types of events. With little or sometimes no adaption ideas can be incorporated into other styles of events. I best describe myself as an event groupie – I see events everywhere. I am endlessly events curious – asking myself why and how did that work. I routinely go to the major events shows and exhibitions, not to see the exhibitors (that’s a bonus) but to go to the seminar programme and learn from speakers who have been there before.
I use the web a lot, to keep up to date with the latest thinking. I also read a lot about events and own a variety of event books – which I consult regularly. I am often found listening to or reading posts by the key industry players…because they do know what they are talking about. For every event I have ever organised I can safely say I have learnt something – things not to do, things to do. The trick I have learnt is to write it down, review these ‘learning’ notes periodically which in turn will help me remember when use it next time round.
On a personal development note I try to learn something new every day. Not difficult to do these days with the great content that arrives in my Linked In home page every day. I regularly attend developmental courses that help me improve my overall skillset. I also have never been afraid to ask for help to reconfirm my thinking or to find another way and always with a please and thank you and or….coffee and cake – if it’s a big ask!
So who needs training then…when you can learn on the job….well I still do?
As you now know, I have been using a variety of methods to learn my craft. Training is one of them too. Some of you will know I design and deliver In-house event management courses and coaching programmes covering all types of public and business events. Not surprisingly I would advocate training. The caveat: it has to be of a good quality and delivered by somebody who has recently done the job or still is doing it.
I believe as many do that event training has an important place to play in the development and nurturing of today’s newbie and the many ‘accidental or occasional event planners’ (people with events in their job description but not in their job title) I meet. Training gives them a process, ‘how to’ knowledge, explains where the various bits of the events jigsaw puzzle fit together. When this is lodged in the brain, any ‘on the job’ experiences will become so much more meaningful and a little less scary.
As you can see there’s nothing particularly special about what I do, others I am sure do the same. The key thing is to commit to the course, set a side time to do it and be curious about all types of events. The event guys I really love are those that genuinely excited about something they have seen that is NOT from their professional world of expertise. That’s an event groupie!
So how can I help you?
As an event management trainer and coach, I have been helping first time and occasional event planners and students, right through to experienced event professionals develop the skills and confidence to design, programme, promote and deliver their own exceptional events. I deliver a range of in-house event management courses and coaching programmes covering all types of public and business events to a wide range of clients. In case you are not sure they are based on 20 practical experiences of designing, planning and delivering events. I practice what I preach. What will get on my courses – the ‘how to’ of successful events.