As a PA/EA you already regularly organise meetings and minor events. You probably organise the social aspects too, certainly the office Christmas party! However, event management is a skill that is a little, ok a lot more specialist. If you have been asked to organise a conference as part of your role, know that this can be a worthwhile learning experience but that it is very time consuming and you may want to consider, if you can, being the project manager to lead on the event and not agree to organise every single aspect yourself.
I am currently organising a conference for a client I provide Virtual Assisting services to. I don’t consider myself an “event organiser” and I made that very clear, but I knew that this company has held this conference twice previously and were looking for someone highly organised to replicate what had been done hitherto. So, I agreed to take it on. Thankfully, I seem to have followed my motto of under promising and over delivering!
I started by reviewing the files from the last conference and mind mapping the whole event. Basically, mind mapping is a “graphical way to represent ideas and concepts. It is a visual thinking tool that helps structuring information, helping you to better analyse, comprehend, synthesize, recall and generate new ideas.” So, you start with the idea or concept in the middle and then branch out (like a tree). These subheadings can themselves have subheadings and so on. The use of colour, and the style of the drawing are up to the individual (mine are nothing fancy) and you can get software to map electronically. I prefer pencil and large sheet of paper. Google it!
I’ve used mind maps to prepare for interviews, breakdown reports for study and even to map out starting my own business, but it’s really coming into its own for me for this conference. After mapping the main bodies of work and then the sub-bodies and so on, literally every detail of organising this conference is on an A5 sheet on my desk. Once that was established I transferred each “branch” onto a Master “to do” list AKA The Bible. I listed all eleven sections, adding in deadlines, allocating resources and hyperlinking documents. Once the resources were assigned I used the filter to give each person on the team their list of things to do and their deadlines. I also set up the drive with the same eleven headings to reflect the plan.
So really event management for me comes down to a massive To Do List. And us PA’s are expert at that.
As a PA/EA trainer, I provide training to clients based in Dublin and around Ireland. I am currently organising workshops which will be held in central Dublin hotels and I am also available for on-site, in company training, either 1 to 1 or group, all around Ireland. In between training, I provide VA (virtual assistance) including event management to various clients. If you have training needs or would like assistance with your event planning you can reach me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 00353 85 7351464 or via LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.