Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting out, every job presents new and interesting challenges. Through my 15 years working in the live event world, I’ve gleaned a handful of principles that have best positioned me for success, both on the job and in booking the next. Some of these I learned the hard way and others I learned from the wonderful people I’ve had the privilege to work with. Over time, I realized each experience has better prepared me for the many situations we live event pros encounter over the course of our careers. I hope they work for you, too!
- Appropriately set expectations for your crew and colleagues before the work begins. Make sure everybody knows some basic, high level information (e.g., what the project is, the major players in the room, who is in charge of specific tasks, and what goals need to be accomplished by the end of the day). This will go a long way toward helping the team prioritize their work, allowing them to make proactive decisions that keep the project on track.
- There is never just one client. When we work in events, everyone we work around is potentially our boss or colleague on the next job. The individual or organization paying for the event, other members of the management team, crew, vendors, suppliers, strangers who happen to be on site for a different purpose, and even the venue itself, could want to hire or work with us us tomorrow. Treating everyone as your client and showing each individual respect and consideration will set you up for long-term success.
- Do your homework. If there is something you can plan prior to the event, do it. Make detailed site survey notes and learn how to create and read basic drafting. Nothing can derail a job faster than having the wrong materials for the space. Use high quality drafting technology such as Vectorworks software to make sure that those expensive video walls are going to fit through the door before you get onsite.
- Do your homework, part 2. Let each event inform and teach you about what went well and what you would do differently. Keep these lists and before the next job, go through and prepare yourself. If you have questions, research the answers and gather feedback from colleagues. Assess the tools you used: how did they work, what techniques can you use again or acquire? Constantly hone your craft and continue to learn. There are always new techniques and technologies that can keep you at the top of your game.
- Give back. We have all benefited from the guidance of life-changing mentors and colleagues. Those who came before us laid the groundwork for our success and then turned around to share their knowledge and expertise gleaned over decades of hard work. It’s our responsibility to do the same for those aspiring live event professionals joining the industry today. Teach a workshop, lead a master class, or donate time and resources to non-profit organizations. Not only does this improve our own understanding of the work we do, but it also ensures that our industry continues to move forward, raising our collective quality of work and career security.