A Brief Introduction to Event Management

What's an event?

Business networking
Product launch
Employment/recruitment fair
Business or trade exhibition
Shareholders meeting
Academic conference
Business conference
Training workshop
Stakeholder conference/workshop
Awards ceremony
Opening ceremony
Team building event
Academic conference
Theme party
Trade show
VIP event
Community (church/school/community celebration)
Business networking
Product launch
Sporting event
Employment/recruitment fair
Business or trade exhibition
Shareholders meeting


The Elements of an Event

(Are many and varied, but include...)

  • General running order
  • Timings
  • Entertainment/Presenters
  • Speaker presentations/Master of Ceremonies
  • Decorations/table settings & etc
  • Target Audience
  • Invitations
  • Press/publicity (advance and reporting)
  • Social Media
  • Sponsorship
  • Payment systems and ticket sales
  • Monitoring/project-management
  • Budget (and bottom line)
  • Venue
  • Catering
  • Overall timing (i.e. holidays/special events)
  • Staffing
  • Audio-visual equipment
  • Photography
  • Competitor’s events – clashes
  • Risk management/Health and Safety/Insurance
  • Delegate packs/Goody bags/donations/prizes
  • Transportation
  • Weather
  • Contingency plan
  • Feedback and Evaluation


Making it Happen - The Fundamentals of Event Management

Each event is an exciting creative process that turns an idea into a successful and memorable occasion. If you get it right, then there’s no better feeling! It’s a multi-dimensional profession and draws upon a diverse professional skill base. So: Where do you

The following list of questions applies to all sorts of events – think about what applies to your event. What are the priorities? Are there things that you’ve not considered?

  • Who, What, Why, When, Where?
  • Who’s your target audience?
  • What are their needs or interests?
  • What will compel them to come?
  • Why should they make the effort to come?
  • Will the event be held at an appropriate time and place to suit your audience?
  • What is their budget? If fundraising, how can you add value to the ticket price?
  • Raise funds?
  • Raise profile?
  • Raise support?
  • Make a night to remember?
  • What do you want your event to look like?
  • What are the themes (if any) you want to explore/promote?
  • Can you/do you need to find partners/supporters who can add value and develop the idea?
  • Allow plenty of lead in time to secure venue, speakers, performers etc.
  • Set objectives, deadlines and assign roles.
  • Prepare your budget
  • Consider ticket sales and sponsorship – what do you need to generate/what can you save?
  • Do you have project management time, marketing and operation costs to cover?
  • What is your return on investment?

Speaker acquisition is hard and involves finding the PA to the speaker and writing a convincing invitation. Once secured, confirm the brief, full event details and terms of engagement.

Choose an inspiring venue to compliment the event and a date that doesn’t clash with another important date in the business calendar, school holidays, cultural events etc.

  • Write a compelling website event article, emphasising the benefits to your target audience.
  • Design a pdf flier and send to your contacts database.
  • Send out regular updates via your e-news to maintain awareness of the event. Include a call to action to register now.
  • Send a press release to the most appropriate business media/professional networks and contacts, depending on your audience.
  • Create a hit list of key people you would like to see there. Ring or email them with a personal invitation if needs be.
  • Use circles of influence and social media to spread the word.
  • Ask to be taken around the venue by a senior member of the venue team.
  • Talk them carefully through your event and have a checklist to troubleshoot any potential
  • problems.
  • Confirm all the arrangements in a contract/written summary.
  • Confirm what is included in the venue hire – including audio equipment – and what is extra:
  • you don’t need any nasty surprises.
  • Use the venue in a creative way to get the atmosphere right.
  • Choose your layout (with the advice of the venue managers – they know what is possible and works in that space.
  • Event branding should be consistent on all signage.
  • Dress the stage professionally and check lighting, temperature, and all audio visual equipment. 
  • Meet face to face with the caterer to negotiate appropriate type of food, timing and service, all within your budget.
  • Iron out any logistical problems.
  • Confirm arrangements in a contract.
  • Be aware of the minimum number of delegates that the contract ties you into.
  • Make sure you give feedback.

Should you decide on a photographer, make sure to write a clear brief so that you get the pictures you want for future publicity material. 

You must provide excellent communication with delegates, speakers, suppliers etc. It is crucial before, during and after the event. 

  • Brief your team carefully taking them through every stage of the event.
  • Agree and circulate a schedule of operations.
  • Assign specific roles i.e. registration, meet and greet, ushering, ICT, looking after the speaker etc.
  • There will always be unexpected problems so have at least two people who are free of any specific role, who can run and sort out a problem quickly.
  • Issue everyone’s mobile number in case of unexpected problems. 

Thank the speaker, sponsors and suppliers. Include any useful feedback. Make sure that the attendees know (if a fundraising event) what has been achieved.


General Points to remember:

Managing Conflict
With sponsors and speakers you will be managing people’s expectations for the event. Keep firm control on people’s agenda so that expectations don’t get out of control.

Clear briefing
Having the event planned in your head is not the same as communicating this to everyone involved in making the event successful. Produce clear briefs for everyone.

Managing your fear
At times event planning can get a bit scary. You have to manage that fear! Keep control of the budget, read the small print and be confident in your decisions.

‘Smooth operator’
Be swan like. Inside you might be paddling furiously but on the outside you are calm and composed. A team that is in control, working efficiently is a happy team which has a positive effect on the atmosphere. 

Essential Skills and knowledge
Creativity, attention to detail and highly organised, collaborative working, excellent writing skills, marketing and promotion, negotiation, persuasion, budgeting, customer service, team playing, confidence, initiative, results driven, time management, energy, flexibility, diplomatic, trouble shooter, problem solving, technical, presentable, people person.


Event Management and the Fundamentals of Project Management

A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to produce a unique product or service. Events share key characteristics with projects: they are temporary, have a definitive beginning and end, and are unique and may be a new undertaking, presenting you with unfamiliar ground.

  • Your customer requirements are satisfied/exceeded
  • You complete within allocated time frame – crucial for an event!
  • You raise the appropriate funds/profile
  • You complete within allocated budget
  • Acceptance by the customer i.e. good feedback
  • Scope creep
  • Poor requirements gathering
  • Poor planning
  • Lack of sponsorship
  • Unrealistic planning and scheduling/Impossible schedule commitments
  • Lack of resources

Project Management is the application of skills, knowledge, tools and techniques to meet the needs and expectations of stakeholders for a project. The purpose of project management is prediction and prevention, NOT recognition and reaction.


Resource links

Below is a list of some of the key organisations and publications and websites that might be helpful to your research. This is not intended as an exhaustive list – but as an indication of the types of resource available.

For a good general resource to help with initial research into Event Management, check out Prospects.

Publications and other useful sites: