1 January 2019

EVENT MANAGEMENT COURSES – there seem to be an abundance of them, with many perhaps seeing it as a default option if they want to ‘work in events’. I often wonder where so many graduates are going to go or what they are going to do.

The world of live events and exhibitions is awash with junior and mid-range ‘event management’ people. That’s absolutely not to say there isn’t room for more, especially brilliant or entrepreneurial ones, but there are a great many other people and talent the live events world is not awash with and could do with more of.

Wanting to ‘work in events’, and only considering event management may mean overlooking some of the greatest opportunities to make an impact and do great work ‘working in events’. 6 minutes of potentially valuable video if you or anyone you know is considering an event-related career or education options. Feel free to share it with anyone you think it might help…


– Hi, I’m Will Glendinning, I’m a live event producer, director and designer. Now, I keep seeing an increasing amount of event management courses and event management graduates. And I often wonder where all these graduates are going to go and what they’re all going to do. And I also often get asked what I think about event management courses. Now, I’ve never done one so it’s hard to judge, but I don’t necessarily think they’re an automatic route into a career in events or into exhibitions. So, if that’s what you’re considering, I’ve got a few pieces of advice, a few thoughts that could be quite valuable.

And of course, feel free to share this video with anyone considering their options. The organisation, or the management or production, I mean, you can call it what you want, but the event management of live events and exhibitions is becoming increasingly commoditised. At a junior and mid-range level, there’s an abundant supply of people. Some are great, some are good, some less good. However, in my view, there are a huge amount of opportunities if you want to work in or with live events. But first, we need to step back, go back to the beginning and look at the bigger picture.

No one wakes up in the morning and thinks do you know what? What I really want is an event. What they really want is to sell something, communicate something or to entertain people, or all three. Those are the only three things you can do with a live event. Coincidentally, these are also the reasons many people are attracted to working with live events in the first place. If you’re considering doing an event management course, either at the beginning of your career or later on in life, because you like organising things, or you love spreadsheets, or you just like the idea of it, then great, you’re good to go, you don’t need to watch the rest of this video.

If, however, what attracts you to live events is selling stuff, communicating with people or entertaining them, there are a myriad of alternatives that, if you’re good enough, or work hard enough to become good enough, are worth serious consideration. If you spend even just a little time scanning the myriad of live events and exhibitions happening around the world, you can’t help but notice many of them are merely slight iterations of each other, with many being, to all intents and purposes, very similar.

Where are the new ideas and where’s the new thinking? New ideas, new thinking, new creativity, that’s where the real opportunity exists if you really want to make an impact. And given that live events are about selling, communicating and entertaining, consider three things.

One: Learn to sell. People who are exceptional at selling, either selling an agency’s wares to a client, selling events to customers, or selling a client’s product or service to their audience or to their consumers through whatever live medium and with whatever tools, are rare and therefore valuable. Learn how to sell from people who can actually sell. And by selling, I mean getting money in return for a product or service, not just people who talk a lot. Selling is a craft. And don’t forget to learn how to sell yourself, sooner rather than later. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter what you learn.

Two: Learn to communicate. People who are exceptional at communicating ideas, concepts and messages to an audience either using words delivered at a live event in speeches or presentations, in documents pitching or bidding for live events or developing ways of communicating with whatever live medium at live events and exhibitions are rare and therefore valuable. Learn and master existing ways of communicating or learn or create new ways of getting a message across, compellingly and convincingly. Communicating is a craft.

Three: Learn to entertain. Now, if you have Beyoncé’s talent, great. But you don’t have to be Beyoncé. Designers and creatives able to think and design in three-dimensional space and create environments and experiences that emotionally engage audiences are rare, so maybe learn theater design. Or learn how to produce or curate events that people actually want to attend. Learn any design, creative or artistic skill that has, or could have, relevance in live events and exhibitions. Music, performance, digital interactivity, architecture, whatever it is, learn or nurture something that leads you to come up with new, interesting, creative or thought-provoking ideas. Once you’ve learnt the basics, work out your spin or approach and then master it. Entertaining is a craft.

All three of these disciplines, selling, communicating and entertaining, are crafts. You can learn them from other people, on courses maybe, or you can just try stuff and find your own way. Do whatever works for you. If you want to add real value though, you need a craft. The better you become at applying that craft, the more valuable you become. All of these disciplines can be applied to live events and exhibitions in any sector. For brands and marketing, to arts events, to sports events, for governments, for not-for-profits, everyone is looking for new ideas and the quest for reinvention is constant.

When someone wakes up in the morning and wants to sell, communicate or entertain, they will only do so with a live event if the idea for that live event is good enough. As a producer, a huge amount of my time is spent looking for talented people, coaxing ideas out of people, persuading people to be brave enough to have their own ideas and supporting them to do so or coming up with ideas myself. Then once that spark of an idea exists, nurturing it into something that works is tangible and that can then be delivered, or event managed. The ideas come first. Everything else, including event management, is second.

You can do an event management course as well, or just find the right people to help you. Or go and work with people that value your ideas. But if your real passion or desire is selling, communicating or entertaining people, if that’s what makes you tick and if you have the talent, or think you can develop it, learn one of those skills, learn a craft and then learn to master it.

The stronger your ideas, the stronger you’re creative, the more powerful a live event’s going to be, and in turn, you become more valuable. Now, of course, live events needs both the ideas people and the event management people, but both are hard work, so work out which you’re most passionate about before you decide which path to go down. Or do both.

Anyway, food for thought, questions welcome, and I’ll speak to you again soon.