We at Team Mancini have been managing events for the last six years and are constantly figuring out how to make every event run smoother than the last. We have managed Galas, Cocktail Receptions, Fitness events, Brand Launches and more.
Managing an event includes being aware of every single last moving part of your event and preparing for the best and worst possible outcomes. A good event manager knows they should prepare for these two things and have a plan in place just in case the "Worst" happens. We have compiled a list of a few Event Management Commandments that every event professional should either know or be aware of.
If you've ever been in a conversation with a good event manager we're expert multi-taskers and even better listeners. Your communication style should always be polite but with a level of sternness that lets people know you mean business. The first thing I do when onsite at my event is I make sure I introduce myself to all the vendors, maître d, tech (A/V) or anyone who has an important role in making the event happen. I'm in contact with majority of these people in advance so the ice is already broken. I also make it a point to rent or request a wireless intercom from the venue in advance and the only people I like on headset are Tech (A/V), Stage Manager and assistant event manager. I do not suggest having your client on headset as their role should be to enjoy and participate in the event.
Seeing the event happen is key and the first step is to obviously understand what the client wants. The process of understanding the order of importance is key and will help you devise a great run of show that makes sense for the event. Once you get an approved Run-of-Show you and your team can begin visualizing the event and factoring all it's moving parts. I like this process because it helps me dissect, add and change things if needed. This makes for great practice and will help you draw out a comfy show flow. I like to make this a group activity with the core members of my team.
I recently had the opportunity of watching a novice event manager try to wear every hat even though they had a team full of volunteers at their beck and call. The frantic need to do everything to appease the client led to a lackluster performance. The truth of the matter is successfully knowing how to delegate responsibility is a job in itself and should be thought out before the event even starts. It doesn't matter if its volunteers or paid staff you should first learn who has what talent and then give them a very specific role to execute at the event. I make them repeat and show me what I asked them to do as a way of rehearsing. I also give them Plan B's and C's to consider if something goes wrong.
All events are different but they all require an event manager to make sure things run smoothly and according to plan. There are some instances where the event manager will have to call an audible on the spot due to a long winded speaker or equipment failure, it's just Murphy's Law. The universe throws curve balls sometimes and you just have to pull yourself together and don't panic. This is why Visualizing is so important because it will allow you to make a judgment call if needed. If the client ask why there was a change in programming save the explanation for post event. The old saying "The show must go on" never gets old.
Set The Tone
I've mentioned Be stern but Be polite in your communication because this will set a tone with everyone. The Worst kind of event manager is the panicky and nervous one who yells at their staff and makes a mountain out of a mole hill. If something is not going to your liking the last thing you want to do is have a melt down. If your energy is panicky or Rigid the spirit in the room will be completely off. I know of event professionals who are so unpleasant to work with that the house A/V teams fear working with them. Do not let your every response to event adversity be having a melt down. It's unprofessional and you will kill the vibe of your event.
SideBar: Deal with any mishaps or mistakes post event or have your assistant event manager handle the issue. The captain needs to keep navigating the waters.
I fortunately get to watch event managers at work sometimes and I'm always surprised when there is absolutely no rehearsal or run through of the script at events. It blows my mind and there is always usually multiple errors that could have been avoided if there was a formal rehearsal scheduled. Lets say the presenter will not show up until the very beginning of the event and there is no time to work them into the rehearsal. My suggestion would be to first make sure you're contacting them personally or their handlers to get an ETA on their arrival. When they arrive pull them into a quiet space and run through the program with them so they are on point. Do not be afraid to communicate with talent, celebrities, honorees or whoever. I often see event managers scared to communicate with presenters because of social status. This is YOUR house and it's your responsibility to make sure they know what they need to do.
We suggest doing a production meeting before the event starts with everyone who has a specific task. You need to do one master rehearsal with A/V and presenters on site. I typically like to include the point person assigned by client or client directly so they feel comfortable with all the elements. Practice makes perfect, or at least close to it.
One Cook in the Kitchen
In the client business depending on how many people are apart of the event it can sometimes get really messy. I always require my client to assign me a point person for communication so I'm not running things by 40 different people. This eases your stress and helps to make easy informed decisions. I have had the Boards of non-profits try to change everything last minute or the daughter of the CEO want to add in a 10 minute segment that has nothing to do with anything. Try to nip this in the bud before you even agree to do the event.
A wise man/woman once said "You're only as strong as your team". I have my core group of event professionals that I consistently use on every event because we have developed a rhythm and work flow. I suggest having a great assistant event manager or two if you need depending on size. I have captains who are in charge of registration and volunteer groups. I have a liaison who is responsible for escorting and communicating with presenters to make sure they arrive on time and are taken care of. If there is a fundraising component or goodie bags I assign a captain and they'll work with volunteers to make sure they're educated on everything. I call these folks my A-team and they're trustworthy and experienced.
We must not forget hospitality as its a huge part of what we do in this industry and guests are spending their hard earned money and time to attend these affairs. I find we seem to forget guests want to feel special for those few hours they're at your event. I like to have a few lovely volunteers with friendly smiles able to assist guests with simple things like "Where is the restroom?" or "Show me where coat check is?". I have them simply organically blended into the room with bright smiles and spreading good energy. We planted a couple of people at the Fitness Gala we produced for Victoria Secret Sport and it was awesome. We had them in branded T-shirts with sponsor logos so that people knew they were apart of the event.
Part 2 coming soon...."Picking Vendors, On Screen Content and more"
Written by Michael "Mancini" McConnell, founder of Team Mancini and 2x award winning event professional.