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To some of my regulars, this post should have appeared long before. In fact I have been thinking about it for a while.
The thing about events is that it may appear that everyone is capable of planning and executing an event. To a certain extent that is the truth. You may in fact notice that several tools of this blog are very easy to use, do not require any particular knowledge or skills.
I have stressed in the past the argument that the events industry is not inaccessible, on the other hand it is quite easy to get in and to quickly obtain responsibility.
Nonetheless, I am convinced that there is a marked line that divides those working in events randomly or amateurs from successful event managers or planners.
I am not talking about motivation and drive, which of course are basic, but there are few characteristics that inevitably single out a professional. I refer to these attributes as the 3 C's (ok not original but easy to remember) :
Both internal and external. To me is the most crucial. You are paid to keep things under control for those not able to do so. This is the event manager profession. Under the category I'd put also the ability to make things look great. This is control. It takes few years to develop the skill to look calm when things around are crushing down. And that happens 80% of the times. I do not think this comes with the personality, but instead it is learned in time.
Last night I went to a conference organized by not very experienced but very motivated people. I previously contacted the event manager giving him all the best luck for the event. I also proposed to meet each other as I am a big fan of networking. Once I got there I was greeted by this stressed person complaining of a location issue. I tried to ensure him of the positive vibe I felt but, no way, the stage issues were dominating the night.
My point is that this person had no control of the situation, but most of all he was lacking of self control not recognizing me as a guest and compromising our networking rendez-vous. At the end of the day this can ruin the whole event because, you know what, nobody will remember that wasn't enough light on the stage. I will personally remember the way I was greeted, although I am sympathetic to the cause, that sticks to my mind as a sticky note glued with potty.
This is the basis for control, but again I am not talking about personality traits. The successful event manager has innate charisma, but I'd like to focus on the ability to know what is right and to convince 3000 people of it. Again such confidence and ability to communicate comes with experience and scientific trial and error.
A charismatic person is able to transmit a sense of immediate security to the client as well as the attendees. In the continuous crisis situation that is whatever event you might be involved in, only few people are able to manage things with confidence. To me that is because they've been frustrated many times before. These successful people are now capable of managing their frustration and others' with confidence because they know what is required at a certain time.
Only charismatic people are capable to give bad news or to say no to clients and still make them feel at ease. Absurdly low budgets are becoming a reality in events, as much as expectations from clients are growing. Sometimes charismatic event managers are capable of filling the holes resulting from tight budgets.
Events quickly skim the potential audience singling out interested participants, which will ultimately attend. These people will come to your event with one purpose, the ability to understand that purpose is not a common skill
An event is an expression of collective unconscious. Several hundreds of souls get together all united by one interest, sharing the same ancestral experience of the man. The ability of the successful event manager is to connect with participants and understand the underlying dynamic moving this people. Most of the times this unconscious need is shared by everyone, and you will find yourself looked at in the same way or asked the same question.
I have seen few managers that new exactly what was my request before I even addressed them. This is no statistics but emotional connection.
These 3 C's are not an argument in favor of experience against education. That would be masochistic given my young age. In fact I am convinced that an attentive culture of marketing, psychology and business could suggest my conclusions, nonetheless I stress experiments and trial and error as the best way to thoroughly understand how to become successful.