I’m pretty proud of my career. I quit uni (against most people’s better judgement) after giving it a go for six months. I’d always wanted to work, and I dutifully went to intern for my sister for a week… and didn’t leave for another three years… I’m now a Client Services Director at a Software Company (which is more exciting than it sounds!) but in the last ten years I’ve been working, without doubt my favourite part of the job has been marketing and events.
I’ve worked on some of the biggest brands in the world – from beauty brands (the stories I could tell you if I hadn’t had to sign an NDA would make your toes curl!), to one of the most famous car brands in the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world; from Milan to speak to 500 licensees for one conference, to running a team in Barcelona, hightailing it to India to assist on a 10 day event, overseeing an event with delegates at City Hall, speaking to another 500 licensees in Sitges and more!
I’ve learned a lot. Some of these lessons I’ve learned the hardway(!) and some I’ve learned through listening to work mentors.
Today I’m going to specifically talk about surviving events, and I’d like to start posting more career stuff as it’s something I’m so passionate about.Hit me up if you have any questions or particular queries or features you’d like to see!
Let’s get into it, shall we?
- YOUR SHOES ARE EVERYTHING. I actually forgot this one until recently. I nearly missed a flight to a conference in Sitges because I was wearing heels to totter through the airport. What. An. IDIOT. Trust me when I say, fold-up flats are the best invention you could ask for. Whether you’re manning a stand, or meeting journalists and walking them through hotel security to interview a panel of judges, you’ll be grateful for the break it gives your poor tootsies!
- If you’re heading to an event where you’ll be staying a while, and you’ve got checked baggage take a spare outfit / underwear and your washbag basics (toothbrush, deodorant, make-up wipes) in your hand luggage. You’ll be grateful in the event your luggage gets lost that you’ve got clothes to tide you over your first dinner until you can get to the shops.
- Daily briefing print outs (printed the night before), and daily briefings in general. Grab your team an hour ahead of the event beginning and take them through what the event plan for the day is – who is to be expected where and when, and what’s expected of them. If everyone knows where and what they’re meant to be doing, as well as what everyone else in the team is doing, there’s little room for error!
- The key to a smooth and well run event is ~good~ great organisation. From point 3, but also in the months in the run up before hand. Banners measured for size, brochures printed, business cards stapled to the front of brochures to hand out – the list of quick-win tips goes on and on, but all of them fall back to ensuring you’re highly organised.
- Phone calendar – Use it for the entirety of the event even if you’re not big on it usually. Preset 30 min reminders detailing who your next meeting is with and copying and pasting your background research on them into your reminder will ease the pressure off you big time!
- All of the cables. ALL of the cables. Multi charger keyrings should be your best friend – and not least because a delegate is bound to ask you … ‘do you have the type of charger that fits my <obscure phone>’.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – sounds simple, doesn’t it? But if you’re talking non-stop to people, on your feet all day, running around – and especially in a hot country – keeping well hydrated will be a total saviour. Also coffee is your new best friend. Trust me.
- For day events (like trade shows) – the bigger the bag, the better – preferably a rucksack. As much as I love to wear a killer outfit with oversized handbag in tow, when you’ve got a laptop, charger, spare cables, purse, heels, makeup bag, half the stationary cupboard, stain remover (thank me later) and more in your bag, you’ll be glad you’ve got a backpack you can fit it all in and that you can tuck away for the duration of the day…
- Filming – consent and enhancing the film quality. Trade-shows are expensive, and they’re noisy. This usually means that a.) you probably don’t have tonnes of budget left for a film crew, and b.) you’re probably not going to get much sound clarity. You can get clip-on microphones which plug into your phone, and clip on to the person – this will decrease the background noise and get you some amazing soundbites! Don’t forget if you’re photographing people on your stand, or getting a brief video interview with them, you need to get their consent to use it in your marketing materials.
- Have fun! Events should be non-stop, but you will work so hard, and the feeling of a job-well-done after will have you on such a high. Without doubt one of the best things about event work is celebrating with your team after; you will have been relying on each other solely for the past few days (possibly weeks!) and it will be hard work full of ups and downs, undeniably it will be stressful and there’s usually – at some point – the accidental snapping at one-another. The post-event drinks / dinner help everyone give moments pause for just how much time and work they’ve committed to achieving something really great, and ensuring everyone does that in a situation where they realise it’s been a team effort is an invaluable part of event work.
Would you like to see more from the Running In Heels series? I’m thinking about doing some interviews with some of my favourite high-flying career women, as well as more tips posts like this and Q&As where I’ll take questions on Twitter and answer them on here…
I’d love to know what you think!