Thoughts from Cuckoo HQ
27
Jun 17

Preparing for an outdoor event - a beginner event manager’s perspective!

When I decided to do the Masters in Event Management, I had had two different full-time jobs that had involved organising conferences, meetings and exhibitions, so I felt that I had a good amount of experience built up. I had no experience working on outdoor events and to be honest, I knew absolutely nothing about how organising indoor and outdoor events might differ.

I started working with Cuckoo Events in February and I quickly learned that working on outdoor events involves taking a whole lot of other considerations into account.

If you’re producing a festival, you are essentially building a festival space on an outdoor site. This means you need to organise aspects like power, lighting, structures, the stage(s), furniture, catering and water, sanitary provisions, décor, signage - elements that are usually already in place at an indoor venue.

In summary, there can often be a LOT more planning involved in making an outdoor event happen.

If you work in event management, having a 9 - 5 work day is a distant memory.

Most people who choose to work in events are passionate about what they do, and it’s unlikely that anyone who isn’t pushed about the world of events will stick it out in the industry for long. There are days of planning, long days at the events themselves and generally, there’s a whole lot of perspiration involved in making sure that everything runs smoothly.

Pre-event, everything has to be planned to a T. When producing an EMP (Event Management Plan), there are lots of details that you’ll need to get from suppliers, statutory bodies, and so on. You’ll also need to gather whole reams of documentation.

Often, those essential elements might all come together pretty close to the event. The result is that in that week or two before a big event or festival, the event manager will have a huge amount of work to complete so that the event can proceed.

This is generally out of your control as an event planner. You’ll be working with a range of teams and suppliers who are working on loads of other events themselves and your event isn’t as significant to them as it is to you.

The point is, there’s a lot of last-minute work involved, and regardless of how organised you are yourself, there are elements that are out of your control.

Finally, on the day(s) of event, you will be the first one on site, and you’ll be the last one to leave.  

So, what can you do to ensure you’re at your very best on event day? Passion and commitment will carry you a long way, and you either have those or you don’t. However, I’ve learned over the past few months, having worked outdoor events for the first time myself, there are few things you can do to prepare yourself for event day(s).

Here are four tips for working at an outdoor event or festival that might come in handy!

Snacks

Pack your snacks! You never know when your next break will come when on site, so when you do get a chance, make sure you have some energy-packed goodness at hand.

At our last outdoor event, we packed goody bags for each member of our Event Team, which we gave out at the briefing the night before. Each goody bag contained a Cuckoo Event Team member's basic requirements: 2 x bottled water, 2 x protein bars, fruit, jellies and of course, chocolate.

We had a long day, with some of us on site from 5am, and with the wind and rain hurtling against us throughout, we needed every bit of energy we could get our hands on.

Do yourself a favour and pack yourself some snacks. You’ll be glad you did, believe me.

 

Sleep

Be smart. If you take your responsibilities seriously, you’ll do your best to get some good quality sleep in the lead up to your event or festival.

This is important not only so you feel good. It’s important because you’ll be dealing with queries all day and you’ll be representing yourself or your company. You need to be friendly and calm.

If you’re tired and start wilting, your mood will begin to wilt along with your body. 

In addition, you’ll be (at least partly) responsible for the safety of attendees and the smooth co-ordination of the programme of the event or festival. To oversee all of this, you’ll be operating at full-speed, and anything less than a good night’s sleep just won’t cut it.

Suncream

It’s the morning of your outdoor event and it looks pretty cold and miserable out there. The very last thing on your mind is sun protection.

Each one of us has had the experience of working an outdoor events with our full wet gear on, and still we’ve ended up with sunburnt faces, without noticing it happen.

We all know the dangers of not protecting our skin, so put a little bit of protection on whatever the weather and protect yourself from the sun (yes, even if you can’t see it!).

Gear

You’re going to be on your feet for a lot of hours. Lots. Of. Hours.

Depending on the type of event, choose your footwear wisely. For outdoor festivals and events, comfortable (broken-in) boots are a top requirement. You’ll need to protect your feet from the weather but also the hundreds of heavy things on site that might injure you.

In the same way, you need to have your wet gear to hand, so that before a shower drops from those approaching clouds, you’re in your gear and ready for whatever is coming. The very last thing you need is to be stuck in wet, cold clothes post-rain, as you’re guaranteed to freeze before your event even finishes.

Investing in good wet gear and boots is essential if you want to work at any outdoor gig.

You know yourself!

We all know how our bodies work, and where our limits lie. If you’re someone who needs coffee at hand when the going gets rough, make sure you know where to get it when you need it on the day. If you find your tolerance decreases drastically if you haven’t had enough sleep, you know what you need to do.

You’re most likely doing a job that you love (you’re one of the lucky ones!) and you should be doing everything you can to ensure you’re doing your job as well as you’re capable of doing it.

Self-awareness is key. Know yourself, know what you need to be your best. Implement that and go forth and show the world what you can do!

 
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