Working with Words: Riding the adrenaline wave of event management

Adrienne Jolly, director of WWW, explains the adrenaline and anxiety that makes event management a career she loves, and what we can take from the cancellation Working with Words to make next year’s conference bigger and better than ever.

Back to Basics

Queen of events managing, Adrienne has worked as an officer at the London South Bank Erasmus, the Royal Norfolk Show, the Anglo-Dutch conference and a variety of successful charity, gig and conference events. But even the most experienced event managers encounter blips, and when an event goes slightly awry, it’s back to basics.

“I think because the fundamentals for any event are the same. It doesn’t matter what size event, you need to know: why you’re doing it, who it’s for, and what’s the end product — from there the end details come of who why where what.”

Like WWW which was lost to the snow and strikes of 2018, Adrienne explains: “The learning curve from any event like this is to go back to basics. Despite being scuppered by the snow, which was further exacerbated by the strikes, we have to go back and discuss the basic principles of when, what and how.”

Understanding Risks

Understanding risks is all about removing obstacles: “You can’t predict every obstacle but by going back and double checking everything, you can ensure you are prepared as possible.”

More than anything, WWW shows the importance of the risk assessment. “It’s easy to assume that everything will be okay when working on a repeat event, but I’ve learnt to not take risk assessment lightly – we should always go back to square one even on repeated events”

Crossing T’s and Dotting I’s

Event management relies on in-depth planning. Adrienne explains that you have to find the perfect balance between the creative bit – coming up with the ideas – as well as attending to the minute details, crossing t’s and dotting i’s.

Part of the fine tuning is working closely with everyone, particularly your guests: “Working with Words is a multi-faceted jigsaw and you’ve got to be careful that you’re not putting people’s noses out of joint when you ask for people’s time – you’ve got to be a big people person and know how to build rapport between people.”

Ride the adrenaline wave

Every day in event’s managing is different. “You’re always riding the adrenaline wave in the build up to each event” Adrienne tells me.

“Events managing is the job for people who if you told them their job would be sat in an office doing the same thing every day – their hearts would break.”

One of the joys of event managing is the satisfaction and pleasure at the end of a successful event that you have organised and orchestrated from the very beginning.

“Even with events like WWW, which collapse through no fault of the organisers, have still created connections, linked and blossomed ideas for next year’s conference, which can be bigger and better.”

Advice for those interested in events managing

As with any potential career interests, research event management thoroughly and go to the website ‘Prospects’ – it’s a great site which breaks down event managing and shows you all the options you can go into.

The best advice is to go out and try event managing itself – the best chance to do this is with charities: “Charities are a great way of getting experience. Or become a volunteer at an event like the Norfolk and Norwich arts festival where you can develop admin skills and learn the procedures and processes.”

Alternatively, one of Adrienne’s favourite events to organise is fundraising gigs, however there’s plenty of other options such as getting involved in student societies where you can become a committee member and test your skills or working within the union.

Whatever it is, Adrienne says:
“Try it out and see if it makes your heart sing”

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