For some reason, many people think that emotion and intuition have no place in the fast-paced environment of event production. I completely disagree. Time after time, it has been my intuition and a more emotional approach that has made the difference.
I had previously worked in event production for one of the founders of Women in Mobile, so when the opportunity arose to be in charge of production for their annual event during the Mobile World Congress, I jumped at the chance. It was actually kinda scary. I’ve only ever been in charge of one area or aspect of an event. But this is where part of the emotional angle and intuition come in. I knew that whatever happened, I would be able to deal with it. (I must remember to apply this to all moments that are scary in life.)
So what exactly goes on? Well, event production, all the preparation before the big day, is basically a lot of emails and excels. I mean loads. It never ends. Oh, and constantly chasing after people for answers and confirmations. Don’t even get me started on budgets… Do people not want to work? Seriously!
I’m extremely organized, absolutely ridiculous. I never lose anything, my systems to categorize information, priorities, and tasks are amazing. Yes, I’m proud of the work I do and I’m most certainly not afraid to say it.
I started work around two months before the event. I liaised with sponsors, made sure they sent everything we needed. I selected the caterers and menu. I held meetings at the venue and with the technical team. I updated the Women in Mobile web with new information. I helped the speakers to prepare their presentations. I picked a key group of special people to help me on the day of the event. I held hands and soothed nerves. I solved problems that cropped up along the way.
Working in event production means dealing with an infinite stream of details. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine the big picture but that is where, once again, emotions and intuition are key. Foreseeing what might go wrong, how people might react, how stress and nerves might affect one person but not another.
I managed to wrap up all the details about five days before the event and it was strange to experience a lull. Almost a calm before a storm, quite unsettling, that’s when the brain starts playing tricks. “It can’t be possible, I’ve forgotten something, go over everything for the 10th time.”
But everything was fine. The big day arrived, off I went to the venue to receive boxes and packages, start setting up. Light and sound check. I invited the speakers to come along to see the space beforehand. This is unconventional, but once again, my intuition was that the speakers would be less nervous later on if they could see what they would be facing ahead of time. And it worked. They were able to test-drive their presentations, stand on-stage and get a feel for the room. It was great.
Back home for a quick lunch and an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, (yes, judge all you want, it’s a great series for distraction), and it was finally time for the action. Something always happens at this moment, I suppose it must be adrenaline. You slide into the zone and everything becomes razor-sharp. Last-minute details, caterers arrive to set-up, the production team arrives, photographer, videographer, endless briefings.
People started to arrive, things moved smoothly. Before I knew it, the event had started. So what exactly is the event? Women in Mobile is an initiative to promote more female speakers in mobile industry events. There are afterwork gatherings and workshops throughout the year culminating in the main event in February. This year the focus was women in UX. Ada Colau came along to present the event and the Auditorium was packed.
While the event is underway, it was my job to ensure that all the different areas were running smoothly. Which basically means a lot of running around. But it is always so much fun.
The event was a total success; people hung around for ages after, having drinks and a bite to eat, a very good sign. The work doesn’t stop there of course, there are bits and pieces that needed to be tied up at the venue and there is always post-production, making sure that everyone gets paid, receiving the photos and video.
Doing the event production for Women in Mobile was hugely satisfying, a great experience. I learned new things, rose to the challenge, and truly enjoyed every minute.
All photos by Gloria Groziak.