2 July 2020

You work for an agency or you work in a large organisation and you do great work that’s applauded by everyone, your status rises and you start thinking: “You know what? I’m good at this, why am I working for this company? I can make it on my own… I think I’ll quit and do my own thing.”

Or, you work for an agency or you work in a large organisation and you do great work that’s applauded by everyone, your status rises and out of nowhere a pandemic hits and through no fault of your own, you’re laid off.

F**k! What Now?

Either way, you are now looking to start your own thing or for a new role.

The more brilliant you think you are, the more opportunities you think will come your way.

The more brilliant you are, the more opportunities you’ll have come your way or you can create.

Key here is making sure you focus on how brilliant ‘you’ are. Not how brilliant you were with the support of or within the agency or organisation behind you.

It’s Not You

When talking to people in this position, with increasing regularity, I often hear a version of:

“I know I’m good, my clients think I am great and I deliver great work for them.”

There are two issues with this statement.

Firstly, unless you took the clients to your current or previous employer, they are not ‘your’ clients. They are the clients of your employer that you represent/ed.

Secondly, unless you were working in isolation in the agency or organisation (which would be strange), you didn’t deliver the work, you were part of your employer’s team that delivered the work.

You may be brilliant, but if you are going to go out there and find your own way, you need to work out what you yourself are brilliant at.

Then, what you think of yourself is quickly irrelevant, you need to work out how you can solve peoples’ problems or serve people. No one, sadly, cares about how brilliant you are. At least… not initially, they care, initially, about themselves.

You may have done great things at your previous company, or been brilliant there… you’re not there anymore though. You’re now being judged against everyone everywhere.

‘Your clients’ in the previous organisation may think you are brilliant, but they didn’t buy you alone, they bought you and the organisation. ‘Your clients’ will drop you like a stone if they come with you and don’t get exactly what they were used to when they were your previous employer’s clients and quickly return to being their clients again.

Can you do what you did without that organisation, in another or with one of your own making? In truth – you have no idea. Yet.

Don’t fall into the trap I see time and time again of thinking you are brilliant only because of where you used to work (and yes, I have been guilty of this in the past). You need humility. No one owes you a thing and you’re not entitled to anything. If you’ve done great work, and if this manifests as arrogance when you’re talking to new people, companies or clients… you will drastically reduce your opportunities.

Sure, you need confidence, but there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance – or being cocky. That line does move a little depending on how much charisma and charm you have to carry either off!

Fresh out of a company or organisation you will likely meet and talk to dozens or hundreds of people in pursuit of the next thing. Drop the arrogance then too. Most people you speak to won’t end up being part of your next thing, but you will almost certainly need them or come across them again in the future – often in the most unexpected ways. If they remember you as someone with humility rather than arrogance… it will serve you well.

Are You Brilliant?

If you’re going it alone or on to new pastures, work out first why you alone are brilliant.

You can ride on the coattails of your previous success for a while… though not for long.

What do you do, or want to do, that’s brilliant? No one else can work this out for you, and yes – it can be difficult, yet it’s necessary. If needs be – get help.

Once you know your brilliance – how does that support or serve anyone else brilliantly?

That’s how brilliant you need to be… now more than ever.



23 June 2020

3 months ago – as everyone questioned what lockdown meant – I also questioned what I could do to support as many people as possible. Aside from some life-saving expedition survival stuff, I’ve no useful medical training – so can’t cure COVID and I don’t have a few billion tucked away to fund any bailouts.

I’ve always been a practical type though – preferring doing over just talking and positive thinking. Therefore, I decided to create all manner of tools and guidance demonstrating how you, and we all… together, can emerge from our lockdowns better prepared for a world that will demand more considered work, better value, and more creative work and working.


If you’re looking to do more for less, streamline how you or your company works, find or create greater creativity or more ideas, want more value or to create more impact – these tools and guidance are for you. They’re offered free and based on over 20 years of ‘research’, having worked for, run and built my own multimillion-pound businesses, worked client-side, agency-side, government-side and my own side and having been responsible for some of the most ambitious live events, campaigns, architecture and entertainment in recent history.

If you have anything to do with live events or exhibitions: you own them, you work in government, you’re an agency, an organising committee, a supplier, in the media, sport, the arts, marketing or you’re a freelance specialist… I’ve produced a stack of articles and dozens of videos – over 2 hours of material. All free to feast on.

You may have seen a few of them, here’s a summary of some and what they can do for you. Feel free to share this article.


Whoever you are, whatever you do – understand that humans are humans, and whilst behaviours and habits change, human nature doesn’t. Humans will always want to meet, greet and show off. It’s in our nature. This disruption is temporary… and there is significant evidence to back this up:


If you work in government, an agency, a production company or have your own events and teams or committees, understand how to best structure those teams and the critical questions that need answers – without which, you, your team or external partners will be wasting time, money and effort – whether you realise it or not:

And then – how do you best find this talent – even if you don’t know what you need:

You’ve found the talent, teams are in place and structured properly – yet how are they led? Live events exist in a unique environment. You want the best out of them and the best value for your spend, whilst creating the greatest impact possible. You need a particular sort of empathy:


I’ll admit… this isn’t an exciting subject. But across most of the live event and exhibition world, procurement is a mess. It’s broken. It often does the very opposite of what it’s supposed to do and few realise it’s costing them a fortune, killing value and crippling creativity and ideas. 3 videos that explain why and how to fix it:

Be sure you understand how money really works in live events too. 4 of the most commonly misunderstood and misused words are covered in this video, and how they’re best used – solving all manner of issues you may not even know exist, and that needn’t be issues at all:


If you’re a specialist event supplier or production company, you have enormous opportunities across the live event and exhibition worlds currently. 2 videos for you:


Why on earth go to the effort of producing a live event or exhibition in the first place? This is a question surprisingly rarely asked. Without giving the question proper rigour though, you’ll waste a stack of money and likely get nowhere near achieving what you want to – or could otherwise. Two videos to clarify why and what to do about it:

Happy to proceed? If you’re then looking for new ideas, creativity and innovation… do you know what this actually takes – practically? And what kills it dead? 2 videos with practical guidance on how to find, create or nurture ideas and creativity – tangibly:


This video summarises a number of videos but also explains how, with much of the knowledge above, many of the financial, operational and reputation risks considered ‘normal’ with live events and exhibitions are completely unnecessary and how to mitigate them:


A quick final thought… there’s a whole (virtual) debate about whether virtual and remote working works, and whether it’s the future. From someone who’s worked remotely and non-remotely (is that a thing?) since before things like Dropbox and Skype were things… it’s about a balance of both, there’s little that’s new about virtual and remote working. Remote working can lead to smarter working and thinking though:


As I say, I can’t cure COVID or offer a bailout, this material will prove hugely valuable though, and see you coming out of this COVID catastrophe stronger, in knowledge and confidence, than when you went in.

If you need help, advice or a sounding board – just drop me a line… and if I can help… I will.

Anything else I can do… again… just let me know.

If you think anyone else would find this material useful – please share this post or forward it. Thank you



9 June 2020

In this final installment of the abridged series of The Facts Of Live, we look at how the insights across the episodes lead to conceiving, procuring and producing live events and exhibitions delivering move value, a bigger impact and greater creativity.


Hi, I’m Will Glendinning, I’m a producer, writer, designer and director and this is it, episode 10, the final episode of this series, an abridged version of The Facts Of Live.

In this episode we look at how the issues we’ve discussed and resolved in each episode, come together giving you everything you need to conceive, procure and produce live events that create the greatest value and impact.

If you’re looking to improve how you or your teams work, purchase or collaborate, this is for you. After all, people are always looking for more for less and for better value and for more creativity.

Without the right structure in place there is little point at looking at anything else. Almost any issue I come across with a live event be it creative, commercial, political, technical, time related or anything else, it can always be traced back to brands, agencies or teams not having the best structure in place.

Episode two looked at the proven structure needed to make sure everyone is led, informed and supported. It also looked at the difference between content and context and how those in key roles need relevant experience in each.

It also gave you the four questions you need to ask yourself or your team that if can’t be answered almost immediately by anyone involved in a live event or exhibition, there’s no way on earth your live event will be produced, developed, designed or delivered as effectively, creatively or efficiently as it could be.

Live events involve gluing together a myriad of issues, people and organisations you’ll be relying upon against a backdrop of constant change and uncertainty with an immovable deadline and with everyone watching.

This is quite unlike most other pursuits and it’s why it demands the structure we look at in episode two. Leadership in live events starts and finishes with empathy, or it does if you want more value and more creativity.

Egos, personalities and politics are an intrinsic part of any live event given they’re essentially about showing off in some way, shape or form. As a result of this, the fixed deadlines and other issues, live events exist in an emotionally charged alternate reality of skewed time and logic.

The pressure this can cause means even the simplest, most mundane task can tip people over the edge, empathy is therefore critical. In episode four we looked at the balance between dictatorial leadership and democratic management needed to get the best out of people in this unique environment. We went on then to look at how you should be quarantining your teams from unavoidable chaos and how this is only possible with real empathy.

You’ll only get the best from your team if you both understand and care… about them, not you.

Live events are often considered high risk. Now, without the right expertise or the right experience and the right knowledge, anything is high risk. Live events don’t need to be high risk.

Throughout this series we’ve looked at a range of solutions that when combined, reduce the time needed, cost and complexity and how they reduce financial, operational and reputation risks.

Episode one looks at the most basic question, what’s the point of staging an event or exhibition in the first place? This is rarely given due consideration. Work out why you’re doing something first before worrying about it’s ROI, return on investment, not the other way round.

Episode three then looked at the most important first steps, the critical decisions made at a live events genesis that have far bigger impacts on risk than almost any other decision further down the line.

Episodes five, six, seven, eight and nine then look at how to really understand how money works with live events and how to buy effectively, reducing almost all associated risks.

Many common practices, despite creating the illusion of risk management, leave people and organisations wide open. It’s no wonder so many think live events are high risk.

And again, episode two details the best structure you could have in place to give you the certainty and assurance you need to mitigate operational and reputational risks.

Reducing risks is relatively straight forward, it just requires a little insight and a few critical tweaks.

Having the right people in the right place and at the right time is critical, most people understand that. However, given there is no common understanding of how live events come to fruition, many make their own processes up or reinvent the wheel. Episode eight looked at how to find the talent you need, when you need it.

It also looks at the questions that I seldom see anyone ask that you need to ask to make sure you’re getting the right talent, even if you don’t know what you need. The episode also looks at ignoring job titles which don’t really help you and how to find the talent you need, the talent you don’t need, when you need it and how to identify it.

Episode two then again shows you how this talent is best structured. Live events are all about people, it’s people that will get you over the line. The right people will get you over the line without drama and deliver you the greatest creativity, greatest value and the greatest impact.

Whether you own your own events or outsource work to agencies or hire suppliers, most people involved with live events are involved in procurement or buying in some way.

Most typical procurement approaches are broken, they merely create the illusion of value and see people profiting from the underlying chaos, whether you realise it or not, it’s such a waste.

Episode six explains why this is and common practices and assumptions that need considering. Episode five looked at the most confused words when it comes to live events and money with episodes seven, eight and nine then showing how to best buy or find goods, services or entire turnkey solutions whether you’re looking for the smallest event, a small meeting for example, through to the largest, an expo or major sporting event for example, needing everything from new buildings and infrastructure and all the rest of it.

Unless procurement is looked at sensibly people will forever be buying ineffectively.

A waste that shouldn’t be tolerated normally, let alone as we come out of the current crisis. The quest for new ideas, new creativity and innovation is relentless.

Creativity doesn’t just happen, it needs the perfect alchemy of time, money, people and environment. This series has looked at the structure needed to support the development and nurturing of ideas and creativity. Episode two is where this starts with the right structure and then how creatives and those trying to make you look good are best led.

Check out episode four for more details. Ideas can come from anywhere, they don’t need to come from event or exhibition people, they do though need nurturing and developing into something tangible.

With the right team in place with relevant experience offering empathetic support, you can bring anyone into the fold. And then watch what happens, watch ideas develop and creativity flourish.

There’s a reason I wrote The Facts Of Live and created this short series.

There are a myriad of courses, people, books and organisations you can turn to for all the individual aspects of live events from event management and sponsorship and marketing through to the technical, creative and content side of things, but how do you actually best engage with these aspects, utilise them, procure them and actually glue them together?

Well that’s the understanding that’s often missing with those who are conceiving, procuring and producing live events and filling that knowledge gap is why I wrote The Facts of Live and why I created this series.

By reducing the unnecessary stresses, risks, drama and waste in and around live events, everyone involved can focus on more creativity, delivering more value and creating more impact.

And don’t forget too, is there for you as a completely free resource summarising key points from the book and this series.

If you think any colleagues, clients, agencies, brands, people in government or anyone else could benefit from these insights, please feel free to share details of the book or this free series with them.

A huge thank you for watching, thanks for your time and I’ll speak to you again soon.



2 June 2020

Traditional procurement approaches fail to find the best value and solutions when outsourcing whole events – they merely create the illusion of value. It’s simply fixed though. In this penultimate episode of the services, we look at how to find or buy turnkey solutions – outsourcing whole events, or part of them to agencies, production companies and similar. And we look at how to do it to deliver you the best value and create the most impact.


Hi, I’m Will Glendinning. I’m a producer, writer, designer and director.

In this penultimate episode, episode 9, we’re looking at the best find or buy turnkey solutions.

I’ve developed the only six approaches you’ll ever need to find or procure anything you could possibly need when it comes to live events, all proven agency and client side, and on contracts worth a few thousand dollars through to tens of millions.

They are: finding goods with a specification, goods without a specification, finding services and talent, finding a flexible turnkey solution, that’s a combination of goods and services, a fixed turnkey solution and finding a promoter.

In this episode we’re looking at the last three; turnkey solutions and there’s plenty to cover. First though, let’s clarify what a turnkey solution actually is exactly.

Turnkey solutions are where you’re buying both services and goods together. The services that design, develop and manage a live event, or part of one, and the goods, all the stuff that makes them happen, as a package this is a turnkey solution.

As we’ve looked at in previous episodes and as my book, “The Facts of Live,” covers in depth, unless you’re looking for a formulaic event, a straightforward conference for example, trying to agree a design, idea and cost before engaging or contracting with an organisation can’t possibly deliver you the best value, ideas and solutions, even with variation and contract change procedures, given the number of conflicts of interests. Most traditional procurement approaches are plain broken, creating only the illusion of value and then become an exercise in compliance with a process.

If you’re looking for a turnkey solution and what you need may well change between the time you contract it and when it gets delivered, which is almost always, you need a flexible solution. And the most important thing here is to find the services: the ideas, talent and expertise first, and everything else second.

Now yes, this effectively results in two contract stages, but it can still be contracted singularly and incredibly simply, and you can still have an idea of what your total budget needs to be before you go to contract, getting that box ticked too.

The flexibility and value this approach delivers you is its main strength. It’s a workable marriage between the often fluid world of live events and the often non-fluid rigid world of procurement.

Whether you use this approach as part of a formal process, or an informal one, or even a verbal process, they have a 10 steps.

First, write a brief detailing what you do and don’t want. Provide as much information as you can, using plain English and avoiding industry-specific jargon or acronyms wherever possible. Include location or location ideas, dates or date options, timings or possible timings, and details of the audience and participants. Terms like creative, innovative, high quality, wow and best in the world, are extremely subjective, and won’t help an organisation develop ideas and designs for you. Provide details or examples of what you consider creative, innovative, high quality and the best in the world to mean. The more information you can provide, the better. Ask for an organisation fees or rates for its services and ask how they will guarantee to procure the best value goods. Provide a guideline budget for everything, goods and services, even if you provide a number below what you actually have to spend, otherwise, you will be wasting your own and other people’s time and money.

Second, governance. Add any governance criteria and procedures to your brief that you deem necessary. These could be checks or questions about financial standing, health and safety, employee conditions, sustainability management, quality assurance, or any other criteria important to you and, or, appropriate to the size and type of the opportunity.

Thirdly, distribution. Distribute your brief in whatever way works for you or your organisation. You may circulate it online to organisations you’ve selected or have had recommended. You may run a formal public tendering process. You may ask friends or colleagues to distribute it. It may even all be done verbally, if that works for you, for a smaller event or requirement.

Fourth, review. Assess the responses you receive on the quality and value of services and any other criteria important to you, for example ideas and creativity, experience, credibility, solutions and anything similar. And look closely at any caveats, notes or exclusions.

Five, references. Check references the organisation responding provide if you’re not familiar with them. And ideally references you find yourself rather than just those provided by the organisations.

Six, up & down tests. You need to conduct what I call the up and down checks. Did the applicants actually do what they say they have done previously, or do they just a part of it? Did they either report up to people who did what you need doing? That’s the up check. Or do they have people beneath them, suppliers or other agencies who did what you need doing? That’s the down check. And ask how much of what they did they did themselves and what other suppliers, agencies, or partners they’ve worked with did. Then check all this stacks up.

Seventh, team structure. Check to make sure the team each organisation has in place covers each of the key roles.

Can you or they identify which one person will be responsible for leading the event? And they need relevant contextual experience? Which one person will be responsible for its content or purpose? And they need relevant content experience. And which one person will be responsible for its technical delivery? Again they need contextual experience. And finally which one person will be responsible for the logistics and operations? And they too need relevant contextual experience. If you need to, you can skip back to episode 2 to find out what relevant content and contextual experience is as this is vital.

If there is not one, single name, next to each of these roles, I can assure you categorically there is no way on earth your live event or exhibition is going to be designed, developed or delivered as efficiently and as powerfully as it could be.

And if your live event is actually lots of events, you need these answers for each sub-event. And one person may be able to take on more than one role, but it should be clear who’s directly accountable for each.

Eight, appointment. Agree terms, fees or rates for the turnkey solution’s services, the talent, expertise and management services that is. Agree cash flow payment terms, and get all that sorted first. This is what will get you over the line. There is always a way of finding cheaper or better value goods, focus on the services first. Then, separately, agree how goods will be secured at the best value and on what terms, and that they shouldn’t be contracted without your approval if you want to maintain control. You may want to set this up for contracts over a certain value, to save you from getting involved, and swamped down in every small expense. And if you prefer, you can even contract all third parties directly, with the agency or organisation overseeing this process, procuring and managing the contracts on your behalf. Unless an organisation can prove to you they can buy better than another organisation, or own the goods themselves, don’t buy into this promise. It’s incredibly difficult to prove and I’ve seen little evidence of this being the reality. And in this day and age, most suppliers of goods will do so incredibly competitively if procured fairly and properly. You just need to look here at how this organisation will find and procure goods that are the best solution and value. For example you wouldn’t hire an architect on how cheaply they could provide concrete. You hire their services and expertise based on an idea, or design, their track record, or their price. You or they then hire a project manager to find the best value goods. Live events are no different.

Ninth, budget. Agree on an overall project or target budget which should be less than you actually have, so you have a contingency. You can even incentivise and reward those you appoint for trying to save money or reduce the budget further. Together this will gives you a flexible arrangement while ensuring you’re getting the best value and capping any budgets. Most importantly though, it means you will have a team working with you, transparently and openly, and when you’re being ripped off rather than against you trying and to marry fixed budgets to a flexible specification, which is what most traditional procurement exercises actually deliver you, whether you realise it or not. And organisations can actually profit from that chaos, again, whether you realise it or not.

Finally, tenth, management. Only make variations to the services you and your turnkey solution provider have agreed if the original scope changes, and only release money, or agree for it to be spent on goods once the organisation has followed the agreed process for providing them. The overall result of this process is that you will have a group of people how work and develop ideas and plans with transparently and openly. You’ll know you’re not going to get ripped off by them for any of the goods and everyone will be working towards a target budget.

Live events and exhibitions demand strong and collaborative relationships between parties on both sides of a contract. And it is impossible to delegate everything completely as it is you or your organisation on show. Work towards an open and supportive approach to the ongoing management of the contract as one, cohesive team.

So that’s the proven approach to find you the best value and most flexible turnkey solution. If you’re looking for a fixed turnkey solution, you use the exact same stages, the exact same process, with one key change.

In step 8, appointment, you’re clearly just looking for the overall, total cost. No need to look at services first and then the goods, or get into how an organisation are going to procure the goods. If an event is straight forward and formulaic, or categorically won’t change at all before it’s delivered, which is rare, this can work well.

So that’s five of the six approaches you may need.

The final approach you may need is when you may be looking for a promoter.

Let’s just clarify what I mean when talking about a promoter.

A promoter is what you’re looking for, if you have rights to sell, commercial rights, marketing rights, or any other rights that a third party could exploit, that is sell for money. You can award those rights to a promoter, who will take on the responsibility and risk of delivering your event or exhibition in line with any agreed terms or guidelines, in return for the opportunity to make a profit.

They may do this at no cost to you, or a reduced cost to you, or on a profit/revenue-share basis, or in any combination of the three, subject to the type of event and value of the rights you’re offering.

You need to be realistic about the value of the rights you have to offer though, they will only be worth what someone is willing to pay, or take on, regardless of your own opinion.

This is how many major sporting events are awarded to cities, how someone with a large social media following might find someone to run events and to sell their wares, or how venues might find operators to deliver events in their spaces.

I’ll save going through all the stages again as many are similar to those we’ve just been through.

You can find them summarised, for free, on

But the important distinction here is that selling events is very different to producing events. They are entirely different skill sets though often confused. Just because someone has delivered an event it doesn’t mean they can sell it, and someone who can sell events can’t necessarily deliver them.

You’re looking an organisation who can sell first, and then, secondly, whether they can deliver either themselves or with a partner.

Either way you then go through the same stages as you would for any other turnkey solution.

In the next episode, the final of this series, an abridged version of “The Facts Of Live,” we wrap all these ideas up looking at how you can conceive, procure or produce live events and exhibitions to create the greatest value and impact.

Thanks for watching, thanks for your time, and I’ll see you in the next, final episode.



27 May 2020

This episode looks at how to find and procure or hire the best talent, services, consultants or any other expertise… and whether you know what you need, or not. We look at the key steps and perhaps most importantly the main questions so few people ask, yet if you ask them – you’ll find the right talent or services without the guesswork, with confidence and to deliver the best value possible. We also discuss job titles… which by and large, unless they’re obvious and common job titles, are typically meaningless in the live event and exhibition world.


Hi, I’m Will Glendinning, I’m a producer, writer, designer and director.

And in the last episode, we looked at how to find, buy or procure the goods you need for a live event or exhibition.

And in this episode, we’re looking at how to find talent and services. A quick recap. There are two things any live event or exhibition needs, goods and services. Goods are the things and services are the talent: resource and expertise. And as we looked at in previous episodes, traditional procurement exercises typically create the illusion of finding you the best value and solutions, whether you realise it or not.

The six approaches I’ve developed to find you anything you could possibly need regardless of the type, scale or purpose of a live event, are finding goods with a specification, goods without a specification, finding services and talent, finding a flexible turnkey solution, that’s a combination of goods and services, a fixed turnkey solution and finding a promoter. And these approaches can be used for formal or informal processes.

The first two of these we looked at in the previous episode, and we’re now on to the third. Services and talent.

Before we then move onto turnkey solutions in the next episode. And again, I’m not offering a financial, legal or safety advice here. I’m providing approaches that will find you the best value and solutions. Before we get into finding services and talent, let’s clarify exactly what services and talent are or in this context at least.

We’re looking here at how to find professional services and talent. This could be anything from designers, artists, producers, event management experts, sponsorship experts, consultants, marketing experts, commercial support, accountants, lawyers, travel agents, administrators, choreographers, IT support, stage managers, dancers, singers, scriptwriters, interpreters, anyone with specific talent or expertise. You can also use this approach to find software and systems that automate what people do, registration or data management, for example.

Any services needed to support or deliver a live event. If you’re looking for services that are performed by humans but largely purchased as commodities, then you should use the approach to find goods for this purpose, as we looked at in the previous episode. For example, if you’re looking for 100 security guards or 50 stewards or 20 labourers, use the same approach you would use for finding or buying goods. It may seem odd to consider labour and security as example of goods rather than services. While these are arguably services rather than goods, they’re largely procured as commodities. If you’re looking for the expertise to develop a security plan or such like, then you use this approach to find the services or talent to do so. You’re free to mix and match these approaches of course too or split what you’re looking for into different contracts of requirements, giving you exactly what you’re looking for and complete flexibility.

The approach we’re looking at in this episode is specifically to find the services and talent you need. Either for your organisation or for a specific event or project and whether you know what you need or not.

There are typically eight stages to finding the talent or services that you need.

Firstly, write a brief detailing what you want and importantly, what you don’t want, how long you think you may need the service for and any other information you can think of that paints as full a picture as possible regarding what you’re looking for. And use plain language outlining the challenge, opportunity or role as you see it. Also explain who the service provider will be reporting to and managing, if that’s relevant. And avoid job titles at all costs at this initial stage, they are too open to interpretation and of course, ask for their fee or their rates for their services. If you’re looking for professional volunteers, you can still follow the same procedure, though without the fees and rates element.

Second, governance. Add any governance requirements and procedures to your brief that you deem necessary. These could be checks or questions about financial standing, their tax, visa or employment status, health and safety track record, employee conditions if you’re hiring a company, sustainability management, quality assurance, your organisation’s HR policies or any other criteria important to you and or appropriate to the size of the opportunity. Be realistic though, too much governance or paperwork could put off your best candidate or company.

Thirdly, distribution. Distribute your brief or job description in whatever way works for you or your organisation, be that via headhunters, through your own network, across social media, traditional media, digital portals or anywhere appropriate for the type of role or service you’re looking for.

Fourth, review. Assess the responses you receive on the quality and value of the providers’ services and any other criteria important to you, their ideas or creativity for example or their experience or solutions. Conduct any necessary interviews or clarifications and look closely at any caveats, notes or exclusions if that’s relevant or applicable.

Fifth, references. Check the service provider or person’s references, if you’re not familiar with them. It can also be extremely useful to dig around and find people who have worked for people if you’re looking at leadership or management roles. Approached professionally, the most useful information you may find is what those who have worked for someone says and doesn’t say about those who’ve managed or led them. I have often found this far more useful than talking to people who have employed leaders and managers, who can be a step removed from the realities.

Sixth, content or contextual experience. If you’re looking for someone to fill a key role, then you need to make sure that they have relevant content or contextual experience. The person taking the overall lead, the person responsible for the physical delivery and the person responsible for the operations and logistics, for example, all need relevant contextual experience. The person leading on the events content or creative direction, for example, needs relevant content experience. And for any other role, assess whether they need relevant content or contextual experience and check they have it. And if you need to, you can skip back to episode two for more details on the importance and difference between content and context.

Seventh are the up and down tests. All too often I see people who think they’ve hired the right talent, later discover they don’t actually have relevant experience. It’s also fairly common to see people who’ve managed to land themselves a dream role by literally busking it. These situations typically arise because people looking for or hiring talent often ask the questions they think they should ask, rather than the questions they need to ask and the situation is further exacerbated by the fact that so many job titles in the event and exhibition spheres are utterly meaningless. Similarly, if someone shows you lots of lovely pictures of events or exhibitions and tells you they were heavily involved or that they led or managed them in some way, again, this doesn’t really tell you nothing useful. You need to conduct what I call, the up and down tests.

Ask, what did you actually do in layman’s terms? Did you do all this yourself or did you support or report into someone above you who took responsibility for this? This is the up check. And then ask, did you do all this yourself or did you oversee people, companies, or agencies working for you, who did this? This is the down check. Then you ask, how many people were involved in doing this? You want to know if this person had a small army working with them or other services that supported theirs or whether they were doing it on their own. You can then compare this with the situation you’ll be engaging them for and whether they can cope working alone or are reliant on a team or other services. And then you ask them, who they report to and who reported to them.

Ask these questions, get names where you can and check if what they’re saying stacks up by speaking to those people they said they worked for or they had working for them. The aim here is not to catch people out, it’s to find people that can actually do what you need doing and in turn, what support they might need from you or from anyone else.

Also, if you’re looking for a particular role and you don’t have the relevant experience yourself, it can be frustrating to find out after you brought someone on board, that you’ve ended up with the wrong skillset in place because you couldn’t articulate what you wanted.

And the opposite is possible, too. Without relevant experience, you may think what you require is more complicated than it actually is and end up with someone overqualified and overpriced and be overstaffed for what you actually need doing.

The answers to these questions, the up and down checks, assuming you check them, will be the most useful part of this entire process and mitigate many issues down the line.

And finally eight, appointment. Agree on terms or rates for your providers’ services and keep any arrangements flexible unless you are certain about the quality of the providers’ services and certain your plans won’t change, which is highly unlikely.

Things can and usually do change when it comes to live events and exhibitions, so when you’re hiring or buying talent or expertise or services, keep things flexible, you’ll have room to move and you’ll get more sleep.

The previous episode looked at finding the goods you need and in this one, we looked at services and talent. In the next episode, we start looking at turnkey solutions. That is a combination of goods and services, for example, a whole event or exhibition or a turnkey technical solution, technical design or expertise and the equipment once designed or specified.

With these 6 approaches you’ll then be fully armed to find or buy anything you could possibly need, at the best possible value to in turn, create the greatest value and the greatest impact.

Thanks for your time, thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next episode.



20 May 2020

Event and exhibition procurement is broken. If you’re using traditional procurement techniques, you’re almost certainly only securing the illusion of value and the best solutions – whether you realise it or not. Live events need two things – goods (the stuff) and services (the people and expertise). In this episode, we look at how to get the goods you need, at the best value possible – irrespective of whether you know what you need or not. We also look at the difference between a specification, brief and scope – three critically different words – and the clarity could save you a fortune.


Hi, I’m Will Glendinning, I’m a producer, writer, designer, and director.

And in this episode, episode seven, we’re looking at the goods you need for all or part of a live event, exhibition, or anything live.

There are two things any live event or exhibition needs. Goods, and services. Goods are all the things, and services are the talent, the resource, or the expertise, which are people, mainly.

As we discussed in previous episodes, there are a whole range of reasons why traditional procurement doesn’t work with live events and exhibitions, even if you think it is working – it typically creates the illusion of finding you the best value and solutions, and you’re quite possibly wasting huge amounts of money, or missing out on other ideas and creativity. I’ll save repeating previous episodes, though.

There are just six procurement approaches that I’ve developed to get you anything you could possibly need, whether you’re looking for the smallest event on earth, a small meeting for example, or the largest event, a mega event, an expo, or multi-sport event, for example, and everything in between. I’ve proven with the client-side and agency side on contracts ranging from about $5,000 through to contracts worth well in excess of $50 million.

These six approaches are finding goods with a specification, goods without a specification, finding services and talent, finding a flexible turnkey solution, that’s a combination of goods and services, a fixed turnkey solution, and finding a promoter.

I’d also add I’m not offering financial, legal, or safety advice here. I’m providing approaches that will find you the best value and solutions, here to enhance or support your existing efforts. So if you need professional advice, in the official sense, be sure to seek it out.

These approaches can be used for formal, complex procurement processes, perhaps with existing policies, guidelines, and practices, informal procurement, or just verbal agreements. It’s up to you how you use them, they are simply frameworks. And in this episode, we’re looking at how to find or buy the goods you need, whether you know what you need, or not. Before we get started, there’s an important clarification we need to cover off, some common confusion, which needs clarifying. Make sure you’re clear on the difference between what a brief, scope, and specification are. A specification is unambiguous detail, open to zero interpretation. A brief is a summary of what you’re looking for, but it’s open to interpretation, and could be interpreted in a number of different ways. A scope is broader still. An overview, direction or list of requirements perhaps.

For example: this is a specification, this is a brief, and this is a scope. This is not a specification, and this is not a specification. The reason this is important is that it doesn’t matter whether you know what you need or not, but the approach you adopt will depend on whether you do or don’t. You can only conduct parity checks if you’re comparing like for like, with clear specifications. If you’re comparing responses to briefs or to scopes, you need a different approach. And I’ve got an approach for each.

The first approach is to find goods with a specification. You’ve got makes or model numbers, or you know your exact requirements, and you know exactly what you need. There are seven steps to this approach.

First, specification. Specify the goods you need, when and where you need them, for what duration, and any other relevant requirements. Add any goods-specific guidance, or clarification if necessary. Remember this approach is for when you have a clear specification. If you don’t have exact makes and model numbers or the exact requirements or specifications, use the next approach, finding goods without a specification. Add any specific guidance or clarifications necessary. For example, certifications for electrical equipment, rating or classification of security personnel or any contractual requirements for a venue hire agreement. That sort of thing. It can also be helpful to specify what you’re not looking for, if this helps clarify any incorrect assumptions that could be made.

Second, governance. Add any governance requirements if you need to, or you want to. For example, health and safety checks, environmental checks, financial standing, sustainability management, quality assurance checks, or any other criteria important to you, and or appropriate to the size and type of the live event. But be realistic. The more of this you add, the less interested some suppliers are going to be. So strike the right balance, depending on contract size, and what you’re looking for.

Third, distribution. Send your specification in whatever way works for you, or your organisation, to a relevant supplier. Or suppliers, if you want to compare prices for an identical specification. And be sure to offer to clarify any details if needed.

Fourth, review. Assess the responses you receive on the quality and the value of the goods you’re looking for. Look closely at any caveats, notes, or exclusions. And conduct interviews or ask for clarifications if they’re necessary.

Fifth, references. Check references relevant to the goods you’re looking for, if you’re not familiar with the suppliers who are responding. And perform any governance checks you deem necessary.

Six, appointment. Agree the price or unit prices, and confirm your requirements.

And finally, seventh, management. Don’t assume that once you’ve confirmed your requirements or ordered your goods, they will just turn up. Keep in close contact with your suppliers, to check they have what they need, and are fully informed of what you expect from them. Ideally, they will become deeply involved with the planning process. Keep up two way liaison throughout the project.

As we’ve looked at in previous episodes, events are about people.

Collaboration and conversation are everything.

Ok, secondly, we’re looking at how to get the goods you need without a specification, where you’ve only got a brief where you don’t know exactly what you need. And unless you’re an expert in exactly what you’re looking for, this is gonna be most of the time.

First, write a brief, detailing what types of goods you’re looking for, and the likely location, date, type and scale of event. If you don’t know the details yet, estimate as much as possible, and indicate that details may change. It’s much easier for a supplier if they have at least some idea of the scope and scale of the event. Avoid using acronyms. Use plain language rather than any phrases or industry jargon. Unless you know exactly what you’re talking about, jargon or trying to sound more knowledgeable won’t lead you anywhere useful.

Secondly, governance. As before, add any governance requirements if you need to, or if you want to. Again though, keep the amount of checks and information required realistic and balanced.

Third, distribution, again, send your brief in whatever way works for you or your organisation, to suppliers you believe can support you.

Fourth, review. Assess the responses you receive on the quality and value of the goods you’re looking for. Look closely at any caveats, notes, or exclusions. These could end up costing you more than the entire quote. Conduct interviews or clarifications if they’re necessary. You’ll be working closely with this supplier, as if they’re one of your own team. You don’t know what you’re looking for exactly without a specification, so they’re going to need to do some digging. Therefore, chemistry is important. If their responses come back using terminology you don’t understand, or it’s different on each response, simply ask each supplier to use the same terminology. Be explicit, say you’re comparing responses and that’s why you need comparable information. Be totally open with your suppliers. The less you share, the more you will lose.

Fifth, references. Check references relevant to the goods you’re looking for if you’re not familiar with the suppliers who are responding. And again, perform any governance checks you deem necessary.

Sixth, you need to check content and contextual experience. If you’re looking for help from a supplier to guide the content or purpose of your event, then they will need relevant content experience. If you’re looking for help delivering or facilitating your event, the supplier will need relevant contextual experience of events with a similar scale, complexity, budgets, types of location and if applicable, marketing and commercial activity. And as you don’t have exact specifications, your supplier is likely to need relevant contextual experience, to help you. You can’t both be on a learning curve. That would be a disaster.

Seventh, appointment. Appoint a supplier on the indicative value of their goods, and how they feel to work with. Agree on unit costs of goods if possible, or a framework or milestones in payment terms, if you’re looking at manufacturing or similar. You can set hard budget limits at this stage too, if you’re working to a fixed budget, or want to limit expenditure. But make this clear before appointing anyone, and make sure you or someone with the relevant content and contextual experience assess any notes, caveats, or exclusions a supplier may have included.

Finally, stage eight, management. Work with your supplier to develop a specification against the brief. Make sure you support them and confirm requirements once you’ve received their quotes as they evolve, based on the terms, prices, or framework you’ve agreed, when you appointed them, in the previous step.

This exercise, the whole approach, gets you the expertise you need, while making sure you’re not getting ripped off, as plans evolve, and your event date approaches. If you don’t have a specification, you’re going to need to be working with your supplier collaboratively, which is exactly what this approach gives you. So those were the first two approaches. How to find or buy the goods you need, with or without a specification.

There’s clearly only so much technical detail I can get into in a video. If you’d like more detail into how and why these approaches work, and why others don’t, you’re free to have a read of my book, and the approaches are all summarised, free to view, on the book’s website. In the next episode, we’re looking at finding talent and services.

How to find the right expertise, even if you don’t know what you need exactly, or at all.

Thanks for your time, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you in the next episode.



13 May 2020

If you want new creativity or new ideas, you are not going to find them by searching or researching. New ideas don’t exist… they need creating. This is the difference between curation (searching or looking for ideas) and creation – creating new ideas and creativity.

This second video in the More Creativity two-parter explores the 4 ingredients necessary for new creativity to flourish.


Hi, I’m Will Glendinning, I’m a producer, writer, designer and director.

This is the second video in a two-parter looking at how you, if you’re a brand, government, agency or even a freelancer – how you can be more creative, find more creativity or nurture it.

As we come out of this crisis, people are going to be wanting more creativity, creative working and ideas.

In the first video of this two-parter, we looked at transpositioning, transposing yourself or people into different roles or skills, so do take a look at what that can do for you if you’ve not already watched it.

In the pursuit of more, better, new or different creativity, in this second video we’re looking at the difference between curation and creativity.

Again, I’m not going to start a debate about what constitutes good or bad curation or creativity. That’s purely subjective, what we are looking at is how to find it and how to nurture it.

There is a huge difference between curation and creativity. Creating appropriate new ideas, designs and creative thinking. Curation involves jumping on Google, visiting trade shows, asking for ideas or searching them out or doing other research and finding products and services that can be put together to create an event, festival or exhibition. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, if that’s what you’re looking for.

If, however, you’re looking for new ideas, new designs or new creativity, you are not going to find it through research, you’re looking for something new. Therefore inherently, it doesn’t exist. It needs creating. Who knew?

Creativity, new creativity that is, needs four ingredients: Time, an open mind, freedom and leadership. We’ll look at each briefly.

Firstly, time. Creativity doesn’t just happen. It needs the right environment. It needs nurturing and in all but the rarest circumstances, it needs time. If you put out a tender or RFP for a large event with two weeks to respond though, unless you’re simply looking for the idea, you’re extremely unlikely to get any amazing creativity. There isn’t the time for the ideas to form, be nurtured into something tangible and then presented. Whether it’s your own team looking at it or you’re putting out a tender, the amount of time required depends on how ambitious, how different or creative you’re looking to be. It’s a judgement call, but be realistic.

Secondly, an open mind. Ideas can come from anywhere. The initial ideas don’t have to come from the event or exhibition ideas person. They can come from anywhere. Why not see what a poet, sculptor, coder, musician, dancer, inventor or anyone else with a creative or inquisitive mind thinks. You’re only looking for ideas at this stage, not the final creative. You’re looking for ideas. Ideas that can then be developed. I worked with a designer once, who had no idea how to make something happen, I told them just not to worry about it, just paint what they wanted to see happen. How we do it or a version of it can come later. Keep an open mind about where your own, your team or your agencies ideas could actually come from.

Thirdly, freedom. If you genuinely want new creative thinking and ideas, the people you have working with or for you need the freedom to explore, to make mistakes and work through ideas. Many of which of course, won’t be good enough. How often have you heard authors talk about writing poor novels before the one that people love emerges, or artists creating numerous works before the one that had merit materialises. This is how creativity evolves. When I was younger and less well informed or experienced, I was frustrated with the design studio I was working with as they kept churning out insane and impossible ideas. I was rightly put in my place though by the person I was working for. They pointed out that it was necessary the team had the freedom to develop all the bad and implausible ideas to lead to the idea that was appropriate or had merit.

Here’s another example, the same disapproval could be leveled at student art shows. Often the finished articles are hard to appreciate given their unfinished or rough around the edges appearance. This however is the wrong view. It’s what they are trying to say, the thoughts, opinions and ideas behind the end result that’s important. Those ideas, once they’re developed with more resources and means, imagine! Of course, if you are pressed for time, or not sure where to turn, why limit yourself to one designer, one creative or one opinion? Have a number of creatives look at it, see where they’re at early on in the process and then run with the one that resonates the most at that early stage.

The final ingredient, leadership, or guidance. At the end of the day, you of course need to deliver something. Something affordable, tangible and appropriate. This is where you need relevant expertise to lead the idea and nurture it into more than just an idea. Lead it that is, not manage it. Importantly, this guidance or direction needs to come from people not only with relevant experience, but with empathy for the creative process and people involved, to encourage and lead them. It needs producers, directors or similar, able to identify the infancy of an idea which could just be a comment, a sketch, a muttering, a second of music or part of a model, and turn it into something tangible. It’s the ideas that need to be found. They need to push other people’s boundaries and have the expertise and willingness to produce and develop something tangible, often against numerous obstacles and objections.

Those are the four ingredients you need to better nurture new creativity, ideally all four of them, but adding or improving any can help. Some of these ingredients you may be able to look at straight away, others, like having enough time, may be trickier to achieve. That’s where awareness and insight comes in. In this current crisis, for some time is easier to find, at the very least there’s time to understand more and the world we’re emerging into is going to demand new thinking and approaches.

So if you think any clients, agencies, colleagues or friends might find this video useful, feel free to share it. As ever, I’d welcome your thoughts and your questions about either this video or the previous one in this two-parter.

And of course, if you think anyone else would find it useful, feel free to share it.

What’s been your biggest challenge in finding or nurturing new ideas or creativity?

Thanks for your time, thanks for watching and I’ll speak to you again soon.



12 May 2020

Buying, procuring, hiring… call it what you want, but when it comes to live events, procurement doesn’t work. Whether they realise it or not it doesn’t work for clients and buyers, and it doesn’t work for those being procured.

Such waste and loss of creativity and value should be abolished post-COVID… a period of time that will see budgets stretched and value scrutinised.

It starts with procurement – almost universally broken pre-COVID – there has never been a better time to appraise and fix it. Fixing it is straightforward as we look at in this episode along with the reasons and examples of why it’s broken, before moving on to how to get whatever you want… and there are only 6 things you will ever want or need.


Hi, I’m Will Glendinning, I’m a producer, writer, designer, and director.

So, it’s episode six of this series, and we’re starting to look at how to get what you need and what you want, be that a whole event, part of an event, or the goods and services to bring them to life.

We’re looking at procurement in its broadest sense, be that a formal process, an informal one, or even just a verbal process.

Broader still, we’re looking at procurement and HR, finding whatever you need, be it ideas, staff or people: resource.

As we deal with and emerge from the crisis we all find ourselves in during 2020, businesses, agencies, everyone will be looking for more value and looking to buy better. Make no mistake, procurement of, within and around live events, in any form, was almost universally broken pre-pandemic, whether you realise it or not, and it’s so bad, it’s an epidemic in it’s own right.

If this isn’t a wake-up call and time to finally sort out the madness, then, I don’t know when the best time will be. If you want better value, you need to fix how you find stuff and how you buy stuff. We all do.

I’m neither a procurement professional or a human resources professional. What I am, though, is someone who has over twenty years’ experience of wrestling with and guiding the procurement challenges of both the largest and smallest organisations in the world, and navigating human resource requirements for roles that are often hard to define. I’ve been the client and worked client side, and worked agency and contractor side across almost every type of event. Live event procurement, as I say, is broken.

You don’t have to take my word for it, either.

When I get asked into and I’m paid good money by brands or governments to find ways around their internal governance issues or their own procurement rules, sometimes, without those responsible for such governance and procurement finding out, to do even the most basic live event-related activity, it is clear, without question, that we have collectively reached peak levels of insanity. Insanity and waste that should surely become a thing of the past in these current times.

Let’s look at a straightforward event to illustrate some of these issues. The marketing director of a large organisation, let’s call her Claire, has been asked by the CEO to sort out an event to celebrate a recent award. Dinner, entertainment, networking and fireworks are a must. She considers doing it herself, but has no experience, so, thinks about hiring a few people to sort it out.

Someone in the risk management team, though, thinks this is high-risk and insists Claire puts it out to tender to find an event company to do it. So, Claire writes a tender as best she sees fit, and eventually, awards the event to an event agency.

It all starts well, but a few weeks in, the CEO tells Claire he wants to add an experiential exhibition to the event and to cut the dinner to afford it. Claire talks to the event agency, who initially react badly, as the dinner was where the agency were making most of their profit. But Claire talks them around, albeit the event agency are now less enthused. Struggling to make the project financially viable, they look at what corners could be cut elsewhere. And the service level Claire was getting begins to diminish.

A few days later, the event agency have to tell Claire they can’t get permission for the fireworks and that this was always going to be a risk. Claire is furious and asks why they put it in their tender response if it was a likely risk. The event agency explained that had they not put it in their tender, they would have looked less appealing than their competitors, regardless of the reality, as the tender process is a competitive situation and not conducive to total honesty and openness. And had they not put it in their response, they would have been non-compliant.

The CEO is furious, and demands some A-List talent is added to perk the fireworkless event up, and demands the event agency cover the cost, as the issue, in his eyes, is their fault. Legally, the event agency’s proposal was caveated, so, it isn’t their fault, but the two sides have different views on the matter.

The event is now only two weeks away, so, there isn’t the time to get into contract wranglings. And Claire doesn’t have time to find another agency to replace the one she, rightly or wrongly, believes is at fault, and becomes increasingly stressed with each passing day with constant negotiations and changes. The risk management department has got involved again too, as the cost looks like it might spiral upwards, putting pressure on the whole company.

And once the event is over, Claire’s relief is immense, relief the event is completed, rather than enjoying what should have been a straightforward event.

This is an example of a fictitious and simple event, but the fundamental flaw here was the procurement process, typical of those used the world over, just doesn’t work. It may look like it works, but behind the scenes, there will be all manner of wasteful madness that someone will be paying for, needlessly.

Typical procurement approaches merely create the illusion of finding the best value and solutions, whereas what they often do most successfully is merely get a box ticked.

A quicker and easier approach would’ve been to simply find the right idea or the right approach, the right team on the right terms, agree a budget or budget range and move on, openly. It can be that simple and without risk.

Marrying the fluid nature of live events with typically rigid procurement processes, even with their change control and variation procedures, just doesn’t work very well, whether you realise it or not.

People quite often find themselves needing to procure the talent and expertise they need in order to work out what to procure in the first place, especially if that talent or expertise doesn’t exist in-house or isn’t immediately available.

Many clients and event owners understand this, yet struggle to get the expertise they need at the front end, due to their own internal procurement and governance rules. And sometimes, of course, they just don’t know what they need.

Most procurement exercises, therefore, ask for a proposal and cost for something that has not yet been developed or planned, in order to find the people to develop and plan it, which requires people to develop and plan it, before they’ve been appointed to develop and plan it, so, they can submit a compelling proposal and price.

Or in other words, a paradox that’s all too common.

You wouldn’t hire an architect based on how cheaply they could provide concrete. You hire them based on the ideas or the solutions they offer. And then, work together to agreed budgets or against agreed terms. This issue is so rife and so normal that some responses are structured to capitalise on that chaos, knowing that’s where the profit will be. It’s crazy.

The rapidly and ever-increasing cost of running tender processes and responding to them isn’t sustainable either. When you have a group of agencies spending more collectively on responding to a tender than there would be any eventual profit from those contracts, it’s obviously not sustainable. And also buyers are only going to have the choice of suppliers willing to play this insane game, missing out on huge swathes of new ideas, creativity and innovation that might be more valuable and create a bigger impact.

The whole process can be far simpler, opening up new possibilities and options.

Even some agencies and event professionals struggle with procurement too, if they’re from, run or governed by people with traditional project management or procurement backgrounds, rather than understanding how events really work. So, by and large, finding, procuring and buying live events and the things needed to deliver them is often riddled with issues, at most points in the chain.

Common practice isn’t always best practice.

If only there was a simpler way.

Well, there is.

A few years ago now, I started developing procurement approaches that actually work, whether the process is formal or informal. The aim here is not to replace existing procurement, governance or guidelines, unless you want to, but a set of simple tools to find better value and create more impact. And they work.

I’ve used these approaches both client and agency side for contracts worth just a few thousand through to, I think the largest one was just north of 50 million US dollars. And by and large, once those responsible for procurement understand the bigger picture, they’ve been happy to modify their approaches slightly.

And the simplest thing about it is that there are only six approaches to get whatever you need and whatever you want, regardless of whether your event is a tiny, small meeting or the largest mega event or expo, or anything in between.

First, how to find goods with a specification.

Secondly, how to find goods without a specification, that is when you don’t know what you need exactly.

Third, how to find services and talent even when you don’t know what you need.

Fourth, how to find a flexible turnkey solution, where you know things will change.

Fifth, how to find a fixed turnkey solution, where things won’t change, which is almost never, but it’s here for completeness.

And sixth, finally, how to find a promoter. If you have rights or similar that someone else can sell or promote in return for delivering your event at no or less cost to yourself.

Six approaches, that’s it. All you will ever need.

This and the previous episodes provided the foundations for what comes next. And in the next episodes, we’ll look at how to use each of these approaches starting with goods, services and talent, and then, moving on to turnkey solutions.

f you want new ideas, new creativity and the best value, you need to set about getting what you want and need in the right way, which may not be the typical or accepted way, but it is the simplest.

Why complicate it?

Thanks for your time, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

4 Most Misused Words


7 May 2020

Do you know what the 4 most misused words are in live events? Understanding what these words really mean in the context of live events leads to better leadership, management, understanding, procurement and value. The images below offer a summary – find out why, and more, in Episode 5 of The Facts Of Live – The Series: “What Isn’t a Budget?” which can be found by clicking here.



5 May 2020

Episode 5 of: The Facts of Live – The Series: What Isn’t A Budget? If you work with, in, or around live events, exhibitions or anything live, four of the most confused words are budget, quote, cost and estimate. Universally misused or misunderstood, they lead to poor value, crap procurement and a myriad of other issues. We look at what each word means in the context of live events, and in turn, what a budget isn’t… which can then lead to better live events, better procurement and creating more value and impact.


Hi, I’m Will Glendinning, I’m a Producer, Designer, Writer and Director.

And in this fifth episode and we’re talking about money. Or more specifically four words which are so often misunderstood or confused when it comes to live events, exhibitions or anything live.

Budget, quote, cost and estimate.

Four words almost universally misunderstood or misused. Four words that are, unless a live event is formulaic or straightforward, almost universally a cause of poor value, crap procurement, bad management and causing a live event to have less impact than it might otherwise.

A budget is an amount of money you make available on allowance, it’s a target or a limit, an event’s budget is not the cost of an event. Unless you’re in complete control of everything and know everything, which is impossible, it’s impossible to know what an event will cost. However, creating a budget that covers everything and protects you against all reasonable eventualities is relatively straightforward, provided the people doing so have the right content and contextual experience. And you can jump back to episode two for more details on each of those.

If you find yourself basing a budget on quotes you’ve received for briefs that are open to interpretation, which is, by their nature – every brief, you need to make sure that either you have the expertise to manage such a project personally and protect your budget, or you must assume that any quote is going to rise. It may not, but you cannot possibly know this, at the early budgeting stage.

A quote is just a number. It’s a number that someone gives you in return for a specification or their interpretation of your brief. If you’re asking for a quote, maybe from a supplier, an agency, or a contractor, this quote will be based on what you ask them to quote for, but it’s unlikely that whatever you’re asking for a quote on will remain the same between the quote stage and the event happening. There are so many variables at play, some within your control and some beyond your control.

Do not regard any quote you receive as a cost. It’s merely a quote upon which you can base your budget. Someone with relevant content and contextual experience will need to make a judgment call on whether any quote is realistic, and whether to accept the quote and work with whoever provided it to make sure the cost ends up being the same as the quote. Or allow some additional funds within the budget on top of the quote as a contingency for the changes and additions that are inevitable or at least possible.

Time and time again, I see people asking for a quote to be a fixed cost for something. Unless you’re providing a highly detailed specifications, for example makes and model numbers or specific types of work, a fixed cost is never going to be a fixed cost. A quote may come back looking like a fixed cost, it may even say fixed cost, but it will be accompanied by so many caveats, or exclusions, that it’s merely a guide. Consider too, that even if you receive and accept a quote as a fixed cost, as the live event evolves and the parameters change, the person, supplier or agency you’re dealing with may end up facing increased pressures in trying to honor the quote.

If you take a pure, cold-hearted contractual approach, you may see this as the supplier’s problem. However, given the speed at which live events move and the fact you have a deadline that can’t move, if a supplier or agency fails or lets you down in any way, the problem that was and is theirs contractually quickly becomes yours in reality. No contract is then worth the paper it’s printed on at the moment you’re about to go live. There needs to be some give and take, some flexibility on both sides of any contract as parameters change.

It is, of course, possible to ask a supplier or agency to include realistic contingencies within their quote. In fact, this is normal and common. Then the quote isn’t really a quote, it’s merely a budget or a portion of a budget that someone else is managing on your behalf.

The cost or price of an event, or part of it is what it ends up actually costing. In all but the rarest of occasions, it is impossible to know what the final cost of an event will be, until the event has happened. Until then, there is no such thing as a cost of an event, there is merely an estimate. The cost of an item or service is the final cost. The amount in pounds, dollars or any other currency that actually leaves your bank account. When you’re looking at quotes, the cost of something will only match the quote if nothing changes. If you’re getting quotes on unit costs, things with part numbers or clear descriptions open to zero interpretation by a layman, these needn’t change and should be fixed. Assuming no parameters surrounding those units or their use change.

However, if you’re getting quotes for turnkey solutions, products, a whole event or similar, things will change. You won’t know the final cost of an event until that event is completed, no one does.

An estimate is exactly that. An estimate, or best guess as I like to call it, ideally backed up with some experience. Everything money-wise involved with a live event is essentially an estimate until the event has happened.

The budget is an estimate, quotes are largely estimates, and no one knows the actual cost until you’re done. So if you hear anyone using the word cost for anything other than a specific, quantifiable unit of something, they mean an estimate. It’s safest to view any figure wherever it is, as an estimate at all times.

These four small, innocent words, cause so much chaos and confusion. They needn’t though, in that in a part is what this series is about.

First though, three key takeout.

Never rely on quotes, pricing or costs received as part of a tender or RFP or anything else resembling a price as anything more than a guide. It’s just part of the information you need to help inform budget levels.

Never assume a fixed price is a fixed price, unless it’s for unit costs. It may look like one, but in over 20 years I’ve rarely seen anything called a fixed price actually being such a thing. It will be a fixed price against a grey or moveable scope or specification, whether you realise it’s moving or grey or not.

Never assume traditional procurement processes will find you the best value and solutions. They won’t, they’ll merely create that illusion.

For these reasons and more, it’s clear to see what a budget is, and more importantly what a budget isn’t.

A budget isn’t what your event will cost, it’s merely a guide.

A budget isn’t what your event should cost, it should be more than your event will cost and give you room to move.

And a budget isn’t something you can develop based on paperwork alone. A budget is something that needs managing and manipulating by those with relevant content and contextual experience making constant tweaks and changes as everything changes, and change is the one thing you can be certain of.

Having now looked in this series at the value of live events, how to structure them, how to get and keep them moving and how money should be considered, in the next episode we’re going to look at how to actually go about getting anything you could possibly need. Any live event or exhibition, or anything you need to make them happen, regardless of their type, scale or purpose.

And it’s incredibly simple as there are only six types of things you will ever need.

Thanks for your time, thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next episode.