All the Right Noises: Enhancing Your Seminar through Sound

If you’re planning a seminar or business conference and are wondering how to give it that extra dimension it needs to really become something special, the answer is simple – introduce sound. Bringing extra auditory aspects into your conference not only allows it to operate on an additional plane, but also guarantees to maximise engagement when compared with a standard lecture-format presentation. Of course, anyone hoping to bring sound to their seminar will need to ensure that they can depend on quality audio. But once you’ve got that covered, there are a whole world of options available. You might be wondering how sound can work for your seminar – but don’t worry, we’ve got a few ideas.

Sound Bites
Sound bites can be a great way to substantiate points made throughout your presentation. If you can find any clips from audio interviews on the same topic, or any excerpts from speeches or monologues supporting the issue, these can be a quick win in terms of giving your conference that little something extra it needs.

If you’ve got room to be a little more offbeat, you could even try introducing some extracts from TV or movie dialogue – as long as it supports the ultimate message. Bear your audience in mind at all times and gear your auditory extras towards their assumed interests. Pop culture references are a failsafe with younger audiences, so this could be the way to take engagement to the next level.

Music
Continuing to bear in mind that any audio used in your presentation must be relevant to the overall theme of the conference, and indeed directly support your current point, music can be used to great effect if and where appropriate. You might want to try giving your presentation an ongoing soundtrack (as long as the music doesn’t detract from the presentation itself), or – if you’re looking for something a little quirkier, play a particular song in your presentation that helps to illustrate a point. Again, audience awareness is vital – hot contemporary tracks can really shake up a seminar with the right audience sitting there.

Video
All presentations can, realistically, benefit from the use of video. Even besides the fact that this dynamic medium brings a ton of extra life to your message – and therefore energises the presentation as a whole – video is such a complex and versatile medium that is able to serve any number of purposes.

You could use video interviews on the topic, relevant news items, commercial ads (where appropriate), TV or film clips, educational videos – the internet is your oyster. If you really want your presentation to be cutting-edge and on-topic, you could even spice up your seminar with some internet memes. There are an immense number of memes out there, just waiting to give your presentation some mainstream appeal – and they guarantee some laughs.

If you want a presentation that really packs a punch, audio is the way to go. Give your audience something special – something above and beyond what they expect – and engagement is all but guaranteed.

Thanks to Kate Haywood (@writtenbykate) for this guest blog post.

Ensuring Your Attendees Stay Relaxed and Happy During Your Event

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumFollowing on from yesterdays post ‘Ensuring Your Event Attendees Arrive Relaxed and Happy‘ I wanted to continue the theme with some basics for keeping your attendees relaxed and happy throughout your conference or event.

1. Have a good Chair who keeps people informed and gives clear instructions.
Key information the Chair will cover at the start of the event are likely to be evacuation procedure, who are the key staff to speak to in case of any queries, if the presentations will be available post event (and if so from where and when will they be available), Twitter hashtag, wifi log in details, introductions of speakers, where attendees should go next and when they should return.
Guidance from the Chair on points such as waiting for the microphone to reach them before they ask a question and giving their name and organisation first of all are helpful in laying down the ground rules.
A good Chair is also invaluable in terms of summarising the key points, asking probing questions and making seamless links and connections between content and speakers.
Top Tip: We always create Chair Briefing Notes detailing the housekeeping important information listed in chronological order against the programme so that hopefully no key information is omitted.

2. Ensure the environment is comfortable.
Ensure the surroundings including the ambient temperature, room layout and set up is conducive to the purpose of the event.  For example if you want attendees to concentrate on the speakers and presentations ensure that everyone has a clear view and sight-lines to the stage/lectern and don’t make the room too warm so it makes everyone become sleepy.  If you are running a workshop and want to facilitate group work then don’t have a theatre style layout, consider more inventive and interactive options.
Top Tip: Don’t pack too many people into the room, having space to move around the event room is important!

3. Provide relevant information within the delegate folders/conference brochure (or event app!)
Some basics should be provided to delegates via the delegate folders or brochure or via the event app if you prefer!  This includes the detailed event programme, venue wifi log in details, event hashtag and speaker biographies.  Attendees also really appreciate a list of attendees and key information and learning to be announced/shared through the event.
Top Tip: Event apps are a fantastic way to ensure delegates have the key event information at their fingertips but at the same time reduce printing and plastic folders, which is great from an environmental perspective.  Our sister company Advanced Event Solutions Ltd has a fantastic event app (basic app £1,000) 

business4. Encourage networking and interaction
Networking doesn’t come easily to everyone so we always try to assist in providing opportunities without putting anyone outside of their comfort zone.  We always have clear, easy to read badges and generally provide a ‘sharing table.’  Without putting anyone on the spot we also like to give attendees a low key opportunity to introduce themselves to the people around them and make them feel confortable at the start of the event and perhaps to discuss a key question at relevant points throughout the day.
Top Tip: A skilled facilitator will put everyone at ease and get the audience to connect and share effectively.

5. Signage and staff
However skilled you are as an Event Manager you cannot be everywhere at once and so having signage and support staff in place to guide delegates around the venue is important.  Conference venues can be huge and so you don’t want attendees to find themselves lost and frustrated!
Top Tip: Think about the flow of the event during the planning stages.  If the lunch and refreshments can be served in the same place throughout the event it helps attendees to feel comfortable and navigate their way around the venue effectively.

6. Keep the audiences attention and interest
Ensure that the presentation times are not too long (20 minutes is generally sufficient!) and that there are plenty of opportunities for movement, networking and changes of scenery throughout the day.
Top Tip: Request presentations in advance from speakers if at all possible so you can check and save and familiarise yourself with the length and content of the presentation.  A speaker will generally need at least a minute per slide if it is content based.

7. Keep as close to time as possible
Nothing is more frustrating than to see an event timetable spiraling out of control.  Try to keep the speakers and event to time and always make an effort to pull back time if you do get slightly behind (for instance by shortening the coffee/lunch break or cutting down on time for questions).
Top Tip: Agree a speaker warning system to help them keep to time.

8. Avoid lunch and refreshment break rage!
Unless you are running a really small event don’t let the venue persuade you to make do with only one catering serving station under any circumstances!  It is vital to have multiple identical servings stations for refreshments and lunch to avoid long queues and frustration.
Top Tip: Ask the venue/caterers to label the food clearly so that people can select their lunch confidently rather than trying to identify the different items.  And insist that vegetarian and meat and fish items are plated up completely separately.  You should have discussed with the venue/caterers in advance what arrangements will be made for those with special dietary requirements such as gluten free, vegan, etc (often they will create a special plated meal for those with special requests).

9. Give advance warning if you need attendees to do something
For example if you would like delegates to complete a feedback form before leaving give them a heads up at the start of the last session so they can complete the form in good time.  If you only ask attendees to complete their form as they leave the event you risk having a low return rate.
Top Tip: Is a paper feedback form the best way to get feedback from your event?  Consider an online survey with an incentive to respond or gather feedback through your event app instead.  You should also monitor social media channels too.

Volunteer10. Finish on time
It is vital to finish your event on time or even ideally perhaps a few minutes early!  If you overrun you risk people getting antsy as they think about the train they need to run for or the childminder they need to get back to.  Us Brits are polite human beings but many will start to depart and leave a speaker mid flow if the event finish time is nigh or has passed.
Top Tip: Ensure everyone is ready for everyone to exit the event as smoothly as they arrived.  Have staff ready to collect feedback form and badges, hold open doors, retrieve coats from the cloakroom quickly, etc.

We hope you have enjoyed these basics for ensuring your attendees are happy and relaxed throughout your event.  We would love to hear your top tips to make delegates feel comfortable and ensure they get the most out of the event as a result.  When you attend events what elements make the difference in terms of your personal enjoyment and comfort?

Conference Trends 2013

London New Years Eve Fireworks 2012

We can’t believe the first month of 2013 has gone already! This inspired us to think about the changing landscape of the events industry and changes and developments we foresee for conferences in the next 12 months. It will be interesting to review this post in early 2014 and see if our predictions were right!

Times are still tough in the UK economy and throughout the world and event budgets are tight or in some case virtually non existent! This is however encouraging some fantastic deals and rates throughout the industry from venues and suppliers for those in a position to take advantage. Good event organisers are rising to this challenge to become even more creative in making every penny go even further!  We also expect to see conferences and events held in more unusual venues and spaces in the future and sometimes shying away from the shiny purpose built venues we love so much.

We have already seen many events moving to a single day rather than a multi day programme and non fee paying events slashing maximum available attendee places is understandably a definite sign of the times. There has also been a push towards “no frills” packages e.g. providing a basic sandwich lunch and doing without the biscuits/fruit/pastries at refreshment breaks in order to make the books balance and also simply to not be seen as being frivolous in these times of austerity.  In our opinion content is always more important than the niceties and we are happy to advise our clients how and where they can save money on their conferences and events.

If you book to attend an event and cancel at the last minute do expect to incur a cancellation charge. No shows and late apologies cost the organiser money for the place that is wasted and cause frustration because it is then often too late to fill the place from someone on the waiting list. Attendees often don’t seem to comprehend that by booking a place and not turning up to an event you may be putting the future of the event happening again into serious jeopardy during these challenging times.

Social media will continue to have a massive impact in the event industry in terms of marketing, developing online communities, live tweeting, sharing photos and extending the life of the event well after the lights are turned off and everyone has gone home. No longer does attending a conference mean turning off your phone, instead delegates are often actively encouraged just turn to silent and to engage fully via social media. Virtually all of the events we work on now set a dedicated event hashtag early on in the planning process and we are happy to advise on a bespoke event social media marketing strategy. Tweets are often visible even to those without active accounts via Twitter walls and feeds via event apps.  Speakers at events are also expected to do more, be it by writing a guest blog post or simply telling their followers about the events they are involved in and tweeting live from the event.

event app for android and iphone

Event App from Advanced Event Solutions Ltd

Reliable wifi is essential in any event venue nowadays, where each attendee is often using multiple devices to connect online. Venues with less than satisfactory wifi signal, complicated log in procedures and expensive charges (or indeed any charges full stop for wifi!) will soon find themselves out of favour with organisers.

Tablets are having an impact on events, not just in terms facilitating attendees to connect with social media on site but also in terms of some organisers favouring their tablet instead of their traditional clipboard to quickly access important information on the move!

A hybrid event is a tradeshow, conference, unconference, seminar, workshop or other meeting that combines a “live” face to face event with a “virtual” online component.  We are already seeing a rise in events which cater for both on site visitors and also engage with wider audiences unable to attend in person.  Hybrid Events are set to change the face of the events industry and will become more and more common over the next few years.

Now more than ever it is vital to measure the return on investment (ROI) for each event.  Instead of gaining feedback from attendees about how they rated the catering what we really need to measure is how much business was generated as a direct result of an event or how it has influenced and changed opinions of those attending.

We are seeing a movement by forward thinking organisations who want to be respected as experts in their field and are hosting workshops around the country.  These organisations are putting on a free half day seminar in their area of expertise and inviting a targeted list to take up free places.  The seminar gives an introduction into their services via a number of guest speakers and case studies.  Attendees can gain valuable insight into the subject area, ask questions and get free advice.  The seminars then generate leads and business over the medium term which more than compensates for their initial investment.  We are pleased to be working with a number of clients who see this formula as a vital component in their marketing strategy.

In 2012 we produced a number of events that invested in an event app to improve the attendee experience.  Sponsorship is sometimes elusive in the current economic climate with sponsors rightly demanding more and looking for a unique package in return.  A bespoke branded event app such as those provided by Advanced Event Solutions Ltd offers real tangible benefits to sponsors as well as adding value to delegates, speakers and exhibitors.  In this age of technology having information at your finger tips via a mobile phone or tablet is expected and demanded more and more.

Event Registration Management

The face of event registration is changing.  For bigger and slicker events gone are the pre printed badges laid out in alphabetical order on the registration desks.  Instead we are seeing a much faster and less wasteful way to check in delegates via barcoded registration technology.  The attendees barcoded ticket is scanned at the desk triggering their badge to be printed within a matter of seconds.  We developed this registration management system ourselves in 2010 and it continues to grow from strength to strength.  It can also be integrated with the event app mentioned previously.

Over many years the favourite staple presentation tool has been PowerPoint.  Many speakers are however now favouring Prezi.  Prezi is a slick way to visualise and share ideas and information via zooming technology.  It certainly looks beautiful and is easy to understand why it is attracting over a million new users a month!

We believe that we will continue to see those that have cut budgets and stopped running events start to return to funding face to face opportunities to learn and connect. We have already seen examples of this throughout 2012 as clients realise it is actually often the most effective and cost effective way to achieve their objectives and alternative methods are simple not able to provide comparable results.

Online event registration sites have come a long way over the past few years and hopefully we will continue to see further improvements.  There are some great sites out there but not one provider is perfect yet in our opinion – every platform has some annoying imperfections, oversights or are simply overpriced and there is still work to be done.  We have a good working knowledge of event registration sites and are able to advise our clients which of the providers are most suitable for their event and which are the most competitive in terms of commission fees charged on each booking and card payments.

Following on from the success of the Olympic Games 2012 we hope that the UK will continue to benefit from increased tourism and hospitality spend as one of the premier destinations for conferences and events.

2013 is set to be an exciting year for Events Northern Ltd. We already have a great list of events confirmed, including our first European Conference.  This blog post has looked at just some of the ways we expect to see changes over the course of 2013.  We would love to hear your thoughts on this blog post and to hear your predictions and trends for the 12 months ahead!

Business Etiquette Tips for Event Managers

The Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for Event Management at the University of Central Lancashire recently asked for my top ten hints and tips on professional business etiquette for budding Event Managers.  I started thinking about my personal experience and the standards that are important to me and this provided inspiration for this blog post.

As an Event Manager it is vital to act professionally and ethically and to present a positive business image at all times.  We work in a people-orientated industry.  People buy from people and they want to work with those that they respect and have faith in.  You are an ambassador for the company you work for and your conduct adds to your “brand.”  Of course this post isn’t exclusive to the event industry – it will be useful to a broad spectrum of professions.

To be distinguished as a professional event manager and outclass the competition these are my personal top tips.

Timekeeping

Good timekeeping is essential.  Always be on time for meetings.  It is unprofessional to be late and you do not want to keep people waiting.  Should circumstances be beyond your control do of course have the courtesy to phone ahead and apologise.

Always arrive early on live event days – it is completely unacceptable to be even a minute late on the day of the event.  Leave plenty of extra time in case of unexpected eventualities.

Presentation

Good presentation and personal grooming is important.  Your dress must be practical and comfortable as well as smart.

Make sure that you give a proper handshake.

Stay calm and unruffled under pressure – keep your head.

Time Management

Good time management is an essential skill for every Event Manager.

It goes without saying that you must meet all deadlines – events will not wait!  Work backwards from the event date and effectively map the key milestones and deadlines leading up to the date and stick to them.

The nature of running an event does mean that a lot can happen just before the event day – last minutes bookings, substitutions, last minute requests from speakers, etc.  Be prepared for this.  Expect to work late as necessary to get things done thoroughly.

Attitude

Treat others with the respect you expect to be treated with yourself.

Have a positive, professional outlook.

Event Managers should be friendly and approachable and most importantly SMILE!  This is a people business and you should be warm and welcoming.

Correspondence

Develop a professional way of answering the phone.

Know how to write professional letters, faxes and emails.

Respond to emails and voice messages promptly.  However busy I am it is important to me to respond as quickly as possible to emails and any calls I have missed.  I definitely aim to respond within 24 hours but generally reply much more speedily.

Manners

Always ensure introductions are made between speakers, performers, clients and staff.  Be sure to use correct titles where appropriate (Dr, Professor, Sir) and full names.  Try to give job titles, organisations and a hook to enable a conversation to begin naturally.  This might be a shared interest, fact or point of view or some background information which will put them at ease with each other.

Don’t forget your manners.  Common courtesy seems to be a dying art but costs nothing.

Always thank speakers, sponsors, staff and clients – anyone that has contributed to making the project a success or paid for your services.

Business Etiquette

Get everything in writing.  This is particularly important when it comes to contracts, roles and responsibilities, deadlines, health and safety information, venue operations sheets and basically anything important!

Ask for constructive feedback.  Everyone likes positive feedback and affirmation but negative feedback can be extremely valuable if you listen, understand and improve as a result of it.

The customer is always right.  Unfortunately this may not always be true however if you receive a complaint of any description you must deal with it graciously.  Don’t interrupt (even with a solution) before they tell their story.  Then handle the complaint in a calm, rational way.

Act discreetly and confidentially.  Behind the scenes at an event you may find out some top secret information – perhaps that world class “superstar” is actually extremely dislikeable or perhaps you witness someone doing something they shouldn’t.  This is however your secret – it is not your place to sell the story to the media or gossip on social media channels! (or at least not if you want to continue to work in the events industry)

Approach

Find solutions for your clients, even if one isn’t obvious straight away.  Your clients pay you to make things work and “where there is a will there is a way!”

Offer your professional advice to ensure a successful event will be executed.  Clients often presume how things will be done but frankly this isn’t always the best way to do things.  It is your job to explain your vision and why your way is better, quicker, more efficient and will get results.  You have learnt from experience so let your clients benefit from your learning and expertise too – that is what they are paying you for after all.

Professionalism

Don’t complain.  You may have back ache/leg ache/head ache/be worn out from getting up at 4 am to be on site however your client does not need to know that!

Don’t bad mouth competitors.  Although the behaviour and way of working of your competitors can repeatedly baffle you it is not professional or acceptable to point this out publically.  If you cannot say something nice it is best just to say nothing at all in my opinion.

Be careful how you present yourself/your organisation on social media channels – never swear, bad mouth, don’t blatantly self-promote, consider that current or future clients/employers/employees could be reading your updates.  If necessary separate your business and personal profiles.

Separate business and pleasure.  As a perk of the job you will no doubt receive invitations to many glittering social occasions with free alcohol flowing.  Have a good time (naturally) but do draw a respectful line if you wish to receive other invitations in the future!

Business Ethos

Always give your best.  If you are a half-hearted event manager you will never succeed.

Learn from every project, client and event.  Strive to do things better.

Be understanding.  Speakers and clients are busy people and they cannot always meet the deadlines we impose, however much notice we give them.  Be prepared, adapt and be understanding even if it does cause you last minute work and stress.  And then smile, be understanding and don’t complain!

Applying standards of etiquette and protocol should become hallmarks of you and your company and an integral part of your brand.  As a professional Event Manager these are some of my ways of working.  What are your personal hints and tips for business etiquette?

Is your event management company saving you money?

English: ceramic piggy bank
Image via Wikipedia

There are countless benefits to using an event management company and in these difficult economic times it is crucial that every penny counts.  So what should you expect from your event management company when it comes to saving you money?  How can you be sure that you are getting best value?  This blog post will focus specifically on some of the cost saving benefits every event management company worth their weight in gold should be demonstrating to their clients.

Knowledge

Event Managers are an encyclopedia of knowledge.  We often know venues, suppliers and contacts that you may never even have heard of.  These little gems may not have the marketing budget to get them to the first page of Google to compete with the big boys but you can rest assured that they can offer you knock out rates as a result.

Special Offers

We like to be in the know and venues and suppliers ensure they regularly communicate special rates, offers and discounts to us.  Often the savings and offers are only open to past customers and/or event management companies/agencies on their database and we like nothing better than matching up the deals with our clients needs.

Preferential Rates

We have great relationships with many venues and suppliers which encourages them to give us excellent rates.  Venues and suppliers like working with professionals because we understand the process, we are organised, meet all deadlines and save a lot of leg work and time for the venue/supplier as a result.

We really value our suppliers and our suppliers value us.  In recognition of the value of work we place with our trusted suppliers throughout the course of a year we are often lucky enough to get discounts, meaning that our clients benefit from the economies of scale of our total annual spend.  For example our preferred and fantastic audio visual supplier is Active AV.  They automatically offer us 20% discount off all equipment hire.  This saving is then passed on directly to our customers.

We cultivate good relationships with our suppliers which often pays off for our clients in terms of added extras chucked in.

Negotiation

We will always negotiate to ensure our clients get the best possible price.  And then we make comparisions between the offers made.  And then we negotiate some more!

Research

Good research skills are an essential part of every event managers CV.  How can you be sure you are getting the best rates unless you shop around and triple check?

The Bigger Picture

We know the questions to ask.  Unfortunately some organisations and venues prefer to hide the true costs and land customers with unexpected expenditure items after contracts have been signed, rather than being transparent.  We like to ask questions from the start so you are not going to get charged £50 for use of a plug socket (I kid you not!).

We also know where money should be spent and where it can be scrimped without compromising on quality – for instance two pull up banners for £99 – yes please, versus £300 for one (of comparable quality I hasten to add).

Often we can suggest viable alternatives.  Often things can be done differently to make the event slicker and save money.

On event days we are never without our “event managers box” – a box of essential equipment and items close to hand which often prove to be invaluable.

Beg, Borrow or Steal

Recently a client needed an expensive piece of equipment and had no budget to pay for it.  I was the first person they contacted to help.  It is always good to pick up the phone and hear “I didn’t know where to start but I thought that if anyone will know you will know!”  And it paid off for them too!

Don’t Pay for Things You Don’t Need

We help our clients to work out what they need so they don’t have to pay for things they don’t need.  We always have a clients best interests at heart – for example is a DDR (day delegate rate) really best for your needs or would it be cheaper to pay for room hire, catering and audio visual separately on this occasion?

In terms of catering have you taken into account the speakers that cannot stay for lunch, the late arrivals and the likely number of no-shows?  We can advise on these headaches so you don’t have to worry or waste your valuable budget.

Budget

Many of our clients want us to create and control an event budget so they can make pricing decisions early on in the project and have regular updates in terms of income and expenditure and surpassing the break even point.

We care about the event as much as you do and we will be watching every penny to ensure you maximise your budget throughout the life of the project.

Technology

We like to be up to date with the newest technologies.  We can advise what will have the wow factor and maximise the event experience without necessarily costing the earth.  Text to screen systems, barcoded registration systems, event apps, twitter walls are just a few items that can be low cost but really transform the event.

Do you need a registration site but are you baffled by the different rates and commission charges?  We can look at what you need your registration page to do and the payments involved to give a clear idea of which sites can work best for you.

Work in Your Best Interests at All Times

Sometimes the unexpected can happen and you may need to change to a larger or smaller venue, change dates or even cancel your event completely.  The terms and conditions of the contract can be baffling but should this happen we will work with the venue and suppliers to minimise the penalties and negotiate the best deal for you.

This post has focused on some of the direct monetary savings an event management company will make for you.  Of course one of the huge advantages of contracting an event manager is the time savings you make, leaving you to focus on the job you are paid to do and earning money for your organisation, whilst you leave the planning and organisation to the experts.

This blog has given just a few examples of how Events Northern Ltd add value, save money for our clients and maximize their budget.  Are you getting excellent value from your event management company?  Are they saving you money?  If not, or if you are not so sure, then contact uswe would love to hear from you!

Top Tips for a Successful Career in Event Management

The recent A-Level and GCSE results got me thinking about what advice I would give to anyone interested in Event Management.  You may be considering studying an Event Management degree and/or want to embark on a career as an Event Manager?

I was 17 when I set my mind on my future career path and I have enjoyed writing this blog post and looking back at the information and learning that I would give today to anyone just starting out on this journey.

Be warned and be prepared though; this is a very competitive marketplace with hundreds of people applying for every university place and job.  To succeed you will need to stand out from the crowd and be the cream of the crop!  Here are some of my top tips to give you the best chance of a long, exciting and rewarding career in the events industry.

Read all you can

Read as much as you can about the events industry, including event management books, industry magazines, press releases, blogs, websites, etc.  This is a fast-moving industry and it is important to keep up to date.  Not all of this information has to be purchased – there is a wealth of free information out there which will help to give you the bigger picture and teach you some of the basic principles about event management.

If you are looking to study for an Event Management degree authors such as Goldblatt, Getz, Bowdin, Watt and Tarlow (to name just a few) will help to introduce you to the subject area.

Don’t just limit your reading to purely event management based articles either, reading around marketing, customer service, presentation skills, health and safety, social media, creativity, project management, business planning, management, negotiation, finance/budgeting and so forth will all help in any future event management role.

Don’t specialise too early

Even if you are adamant that you wish to work in a particular area of the events industry I would urge you not to specialise too early, to ensure that you gain a broad range of skills and experience.  Although organising a music festival is a very different area of expertise to organising a conference or exhibition the basic principles of event planning are the same and experience of managing a live event in any shape or form will help to make you a better and stronger Event Manager.  When I started studying for my event management degree at Leeds Metropolitan University I was certain that I wanted to specialise in the music industry, organising festivals and gigs.  Throughout my career I have been lucky enough to work on every type of event imaginable; from fashion shows to awards ceremonies, exhibitions to weddings, music festivals to conferences, sporting competitions to open air movies and everything in between.  Today though, although I still really enjoy working on every single event management project, I get the most satisfaction from organising conferences and this has become my personal niche and speciality.

Organise anything you can

If you are considering working in the events industry you are probably already seen as the natural organiser within your friendship group – the one that makes things happen and generally looks after the arrangements and finer details.  Although organising friends birthday parties, holidays and nights out may be on a much smaller scale compared to organising public events it is still a little more practice for your future role and every little helps!

You can make other opportunities for yourself too.  Could you organise an event for a local charity for example?  If you are willing and able to take the initiative and help with fundraising on any scale I guarantee that they will be very appreciative.  And what about getting involved with your local amateur dramatics or other performance group?  That would be a great opportunity to shadow a sound and lighting engineer and to learn a little bit more about how it works behind the scenes.

During your career you will often be working with a tight or very small budget and so being imaginative, negotiating, making every penny count and generally making magic on very few resources is something that you should be working on at every opportunity (and your friends/local charity/theatre group will thank you for it too).

Get to grips with Social Media

You are no doubt already really comfortable with the internet and social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Blogging and Google+.  Incorporating social media and marketing into events is common practice nowadays so ensure that it is a routine part of your day/week too and think about how you could use it in a professional rather than a personal capacity to help promote your own future events.

Start to follow #eventprofs on Twitter and learn from the thoughts, knowledge and discussions they inspire and share.

Ensure you have a good computing skills

A lot of administration is required when planning an event and as an Event Manager you will need to be well versed in using a range of different software and tools.  Get as much working knowledge as you can of Microsoft Office (particularly Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher) and also learn basic accounting, project management, web design, video editing, design, writing and marketing skills if you possibly can.

Being familiar with the keyboard and typing quickly will be essential!  Likewise experience of writing professional correspondence in the form of emails, letters, reports and budgets will be a regular requirement.

As an Event Manager you will need to be technically proficient in many areas so seize absolutely every opportunity to learn.

Get a driving license

Event Managers often work unsociable hours and venues are not always accessible by public transport, particularly at 5 am!  Likewise you will often have a lot of equipment to transport so having a driving license and ideally your own vehicle is essential in my opinion.

Volunteer and get work experience

Volunteering and paid or unpaid work experience are absolutely vital and this cannot be stressed enough.  This shows a future employer that you are serious and committed to your chosen career and hungry to gain experience whenever you can.  Find out about local events and event management companies and ask them if they have any opportunities for you to get involved.  Don’t just think this should relate to the live event period either – the hard work is done in the office during the planning stages in the weeks/months/year leading up to the event.

Often it is possible to volunteer for events such as music festivals and aswell as gaining essential work experience and knowledge of a live event you often get a free ticket and “time off” to enjoy the festival in return for a set amount of working hours per day.  Regardless of whether you have chance to work on large-scale events such as the Olympics, Glastonbury, V Festival, etc, or events on a more local level, nothing should be discounted.

Although it may be difficult juggling your paid work commitments with your eagerness to volunteer you must do it to set you apart from the masses.  This has to be done as a long-term investment as without proof of experience working on actual events you are unlikely to even get to the interview stage.  Show willingness to volunteer and prove yourself to an Event Manager and this may of course then lead to paid work in the future.  Without getting your feet on the first rung of the ladder though you are never going to progress and develop your skills.

Of course if you can gain paid experience in the events industry that is even better.  Be open-minded about how you can gain experience too, for example could you work as an event steward?  This is a good grounding in terms of managing crowds across a venue or event site, dealing with different health and safety issues and ensuring the smooth running and safety of all attendees.

Go to events

At every possibility go to a broad variety of events and observe how things are done as a spectator.  What has worked well, what could be improved?  Why do you think things have been set up that way?  How has it been marketed?  How is everything managed?  What did you learn?  Consider jotting down notes, questions and observations that you can refer back to in the future.

I hope this post has inspired you to begin your exciting career in event management.  I love my role as Managing Director of Events Northern Ltd and find it extremely satisfying and rewarding working on events both large and small.

We wish you the best of luck to fulfill your dreams too!