Wikipedia defines event management as the application of project management to the creation and development of large-scale events such as festivals, conferences, ceremonies, formal parties, concerts, orconventions. It involves studying the brand, identifying the target audience, devising the event concept, planning the logistics and coordinating the technical aspects, before the actual event is launched.
After reading this definition, it is still not clear to me what the core function of an event manager is. I bet that many people, who hear the words ‘event manager’, think that the profession operates like fireworks; you ignite an idea in your head and out pops an event! It reminds me of the days when I was in the corporate field and we did back-to-back events, producing one after the other like on a conveyor belt. Even in those days, fellow colleagues would come into my office to book a ‘quick’ cocktail event or another. This has not changed and today I am still puzzled by what is meant by ‘a quick’ event.
The definition of an event manager will bring us closer to the nitty-gritty of event management. This is the person who plans and executes the event, taking responsibility for the creative, technical and logistical elements. This includes overall event design, brand building, the marketing and communication strategy, audio-visual production, scriptwriting, logistics, budgeting, negotiation and client service.
To make it even clearer the Event Management Body of Knowledge, or EMBOK as it is known in the industry, categorised event management into five areas of management duties, each with approximately seven sub-categories divided into even more detailed categories.
No wonder that I am often on the receiving end of confused expressions when I try to explain what event management entails. I have become used to comments like: “Oh, you do a bit of everything” and ‘I see you are a jack of all trades”.
In my profession as event manager and freelance facilitator who works with young adults and career changers, I am always astounded by their disappointment when they realise that event management is only glamorous for the actual duration of the event. The duties and tasks that must be performed before and after an event are in some instances administrational warfare. The process is stressful and it is hard work, but in the same breath I can assure you that it is most rewarding.
So, what are the core values an event manager need to be successful?
- Strategic thinking
- Continuous improvement and innovation
Then there is also the jargon of the trade. Do you know for example that a ‘dais’ is actually a small platform and that a ‘green room’ refers to a waiting room for speakers? Confusing, I now.
When I am asked if I do project management, my answer is: “Indeed I do!” Here is my take on the difference between event management and project management. Although each one is applied in totally different industries (in the engineering or building industry they refer to project management), we are both driven by the same processes to get the job done or the project finalised:
You can remember it this way: Project managers build tangible assets whereas event managers create and produce a wonderful experience and then break it down. I know, we are a very special breed indeed.
To sum up, your core role as event manager is to set your imagination free, to paint your dreams and to build your castles. But here is a tip, remember that there are no second chances, it is a live show and you as event manager must ensure that:
THE SHOW GOES ON!