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7 Tips for Being a Great Event Manager

Event management is an exciting and creative field, with a lot of potential for job satisfaction. Whether you’re crazy about music, weddings, sports, fancy corporate functions or interesting public talks, there’s absolutely something in events for everyone.

If you’re about to embark on a career as an Event Manager, follow these 7 tips to make sure you’re giving yourself every possible chance for success.

Start planning early

For some Event Managers working in the music industry, they may spend an entire year planning just one annual festival! Large events can take upwards of six months to put together, while smaller events need planning to start at least two months in advance. The earlier you can organise an event the better, because it gives you more time to market your event and reach your audience.

To get started at a time that’s realistic for your event, develop an event timeline and work backwards. For example, if you want your vendor contracts locked in a month before your event, you’re going to have to begin negotiations with them at least a month before that. Make sure you give yourself enough time to factor in delays, such as issues with securing a venue or having to find a replacement performer.

Communication is key

No matter what your particular field in events, every Event Manager needs to be a great communicator. This means being able to communicate in writing as well as clearly giving directions, networking, and calmly being able to manage others or respond to complaints under pressure. Remember, communication isn’t just one way, it also means being a great listener.

Here are just a few of the ways you can be an exceptional communicator:

  • Don’t communicate via text, just calling or emailing
  • Check in frequently with staff and networks
  • Follow up on communications
  • Write clear and succinct emails
  • Practise active listening when dealing with everyone from a big client to your most junior staff


Expect the unexpected and think on your feet

If there is any rule in events, it’s this: something unexpected will go wrong at every event. Whether it’s a tech issue, unforeseen rain, a venue cancellation or a keynote speaker falling ill, you can be sure that at least one aspect of your event will require some fast problem solving and a plan B.

Instead of asking yourself ‘will something go wrong?’, start by asking, ‘what can I expect will go wrong?’ and write up a comprehensive backup plan for every possible major mishap. Then, make sure you have a budget for contingencies, and if possible, try to do a run through of the event beforehand.

Remember, your audience will be flexible if they are given new information, so if there is some obvious issue or a change in plans, it’s best to communicate that clearly and as early as possible to avoid confusion.

Take advantage of tech and social media

Ten years ago, every Event Manager would have included a printing budget in their planning, for flyers, posters and distribution. New mobile technologies allow you to reach new audiences, plan more effectively, involve your audience and develop your branding creatively, while saving that printing budget for something else!

Studies show that use of digital technologies can increase attendance by as much as 20%, and can reduce costs by up to 30%. It’s time to get tech savvy.

Here are a few technologies you should be on top of as an event manager.

  • Survey Apps and sites can allow you to involve your audience and crowdsource their preferences on anything from venue to menu.
  • Planning and calendar Apps can be your very own personal assistant
  • Audience response systems (ARS) allow the audience to participate in an event live, by voting or commenting in a live feed
  • Encourage live Tweeting and social media posting during the event to create buzz
  • Video Conferencing and Webcasting can allow you to invite speakers from anywhere in the world
  • Keep all your planning documents in the cloud and share access, to allow everyone involved in running the event to be on the same page
  • New technologies such as Virtual Reality or 3D mapping can be applied creatively to all kinds of events


If an event happens and it’s not posted on social media, did it really happen at all?

In the era of 2020, content is still well and truly king. As an Event Manager, you want all of your events documented professionally, Tweeted, Instagrammed, and spread throughout the social media landscape as much as possible. Get snappy soundbites for YouTube and captivating images for Instagram. That goes for pre-event marketing, posting as the event unfolds, and follow up posts after the event, to remind everyone how awesome it was

Negotiate as much as possible

As an Event Manager you want to set up positive, ongoing relationships with vendors, but you also want to stay within your budget. Remember, everything you pay for when it comes to events is negotiable. If you’re going to be coming back as a repeat customer, you’re in a position to respectfully bargain. Make sure you negotiate as much as possible (within reason) to get the best prices, using the promise of further business, buying in bulk, or exclusive contracts into the future.

Be creative and set trends

Be savvy and creative when it comes to your events, if you want to stand out from the crowd. Why not invite a performance company to involve the audience in something interactive? Or, use social media in unusual ways, such as sending all participants on a scavenger hunt around the venue with it’s own hashtag? Here are just a few ways that Event Managers are making their events unusual, memorable, and social media friendly.

  • Creative catering, treating food as entertainment
  • Themed events with compulsory costumes
  • Interactive art installations
  • Creative social media events with their own hashtags
  • Include an interactive VR element
  • Turn your event into a guided experiential journey through the venue
  • Bring in some pop up machines, such as: vending machines, photo booth, popcorn machine, or vintage video games
  • Go out on a limb and bring in some unusual performers

Remember, if you want your event to be remembered online it has to be content worthy. For example, include an eye-catching visual installation that your audience can stand inside or next to, perfect for Instagram posting!

Learn from mistakes and reflect on success

As with many things in life, the only way to improve is through practise. Every good event manager takes time to reflect after each event, and consider what they might have done differently, or what could be improved next time. This may also involve following up with clients or participants, to get feedback directly. Remember, don’t take anything personally. Stay open minded, and love what you do!

Every great career in event management starts with a great education. See here for more information about the Diploma of Event Management and the Bachelor of Business (Event Management) at Torrens University.

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