20 years. That’s how long I’ve been involved with live events.

I won’t lie, the first 10 or 15 of those, I spent a lot time suffering. I, like many others, suffered with things like: long hours, high risks, high costs, budgets evaporating, frustration, ideas getting watered down, sleepless nights . . . the list goes on.

To a greater or lesser extent everyone else I met seemed to be suffering with the same issues, so I thought it was just part of the game. An occupational hazard if you like. Sometimes these issues were relentless, people would be questioning whether it would never end! They’d be holding on for dear life until for the event to happen and then be over.

Eventually though, I got frustrated with all this nonsense and thought there had to be a better way. Were these problems really inherent hazards when working in or around live events, or could they be avoided? I took a step back and started to look more forensically at the world of ‘events’.

Now I have worked for, run and now own high profile live events companies. I’ve been responsible for some of the largest and most complex live events in recent history. I have also, deliberately, worked across all sectors and types of events: brand activity, the arts, sport, government – I’ve got the t-shirt and (literally) written the book.

Years of research, work and learning proved these issues, are, by and large completely avoidable, or manageable to an almost negligible level anyway.

It still amazes me that, even now, in this day and age people still put up with these issues. I know they exist as I speak to people day in day about them.

I was determined to transform the event industry to solve this problem. I hit a stumbling block though. I realised, a while ago now, that the solution lied not with the event industry but with how those that want or need live events engage with the event professionals and companies that can help them. In turn, the solution lies in how live events are developed and created.

A large part of why I founded Allium, was to help you avoid the situation where people (people you’re paying) are spending too much time firefighting these problems, so they can spend more time focusing on creating you an incredible world-class live event.

So what is the solution? The complete solution is a whole range of steps and philosophies. Two things are key though and can go a long way to making things better. Making sure you have the right team with specific expertise and having them at the right time.

The Right Team

It’s really very simple. No matter what type of event you’re looking for; whether you’re creating, becoming or buying a team to help you, there are four key roles you need in place, everything else is secondary.

1. Someone needs to lead the event.
They’re responsible for driving it forwards, they need experience with events of similar scale, complexity or location. They don’t necessarily need knowledge of or expertise in the content or purpose of the event.

2. Someone needs to lead on the content.
The sport, the art, the product, brand or whatever else the event is about, an expert in this field, subject or product needs to lead on the content side.

3. Someone needs to be responsible for physically delivering everything.
Like the first person it’s their experience of similar scale, complexity and type of event that’s important.

4. Someone needs to be responsible for all the operations and logistics.
Again, similar experience of scale and complexity is what’s important.

That’s it. That is all any live event needs to manage it. These roles could be four different people or a single person doing all of them if they’ve the experience and capacity, but never a committee doing each. Directly accountable people should be in each position. On large events, or multi-faceted events you’ll end up with lots of these sets of four roles, but these four roles are the linchpins. Every other imaginable skill set or requirement will report back into these people: procurement, PR, sponsorship, marketing, legal, technical specialists, suppliers . . .

The Right Time – the Tipping Point

When you choose to engage this expertise is just as important as getting the right team. You need, at the very least, the first two role in place right when you start. There is a tipping point, the point at which an event goes from merely an idea to something that might actually happen, the point at which people commit to thinking about it seriously. Decisions made in the split seconds of this tipping point can have massive consequences further down the line. It’s important these decisions are made with the relevant expertise.

There are reasons why some organisations may struggle to get this expertise on board at the right time: governance, procurement and ego are the three most common. In my experience though all three are avoidable – there are ways, I’ve heard every objection and they are all surmountable. You wouldn’t commission or commit to having a building built without a qualified architect involved early on, creating a live event is no different.

Fail Safe

With these two points addressed, short of negligence, it is almost impossible to fail. You’ve the right experience in place at the right time to lead things, guiding you and everyone else right from the start, and making sure the problems above don’t arise.

Help put an end to any needless suffering – otherwise you’ll be wasting your time and money, and your live event runs the risk of not living up to its full potential. Live events are the most powerful medium you have to communicate, promote or entertain. Make sure everyone is focused on unleashing that power.