Event Management for Government – Tips and Tricks for New and Old Players


The internet is full of ‘how to’ articles about running an event, however few of them relate to working on government events. Government event management has its own challenges and pit falls that can throw a curveball. These tips are for new players (or a reminder for old hands) as a handy guide for government event management.

1. There’s nothing wrong with being innovative

In fact, its encouraged! The challenge with innovation is finding the best way to sell your event vision to get your stakeholders on board. Too often the person pitching the idea focuses on describing the idea, as opposed to how it will help achieve the event objectives. Here are some helpful ways to overcome this:

  1. Bring aids – often an idea that’s so clear in our heads is difficult to describe accurately. If possible, be prepared and bring aids to more clearly articulate what you have in mind. You could also test your pitch on a colleague beforehand.
  2. Be prepared to answer questions – questions about costs, benefits and risks; and how these risks might be mitigated and/or may impact the budget.
  3. Be flexible – remember that you are managing the event on behalf of your stakeholder/s. You need to be flexible in order to incorporate changes to the event, and respect the fact that sometimes your stakeholder/s will say ‘no’ to your ideas.

2. Make sure your filing is up-to-date

It’s really frustrating when you’re not able to find that document you desperately need. It seems really obvious, but we can’t stress enough the importance of setting up a clear and concise filing system for your event, right from the beginning. It will save you a lot of strife!

3. Planning is key

  1. Use software that will make your life easier – for example, Excel has some amazing functions that make event planning a breeze. You can easily filter columns and use conditional formatting to see the status of each action item.
  2. Have a plan B – what if it rains, what if the guest speaker can no longer attend – if you have some predetermined solutions to these problems you’re already a step ahead.
  3. Have you consulted the relevant departmental policies – being a government event, there are additional restrictions such as style guides, gifts policies (both giving and receiving), and policies that prescribe the amount you can spend on entertainment per head. Though these may seem inconsequential now, it’s best to have them covered off to avoid problems at the end of the project.

4. Think like an attendee

The most useful thing you can do when planning an event is to look at it from a guest’s perspective. Imagine what you’d expect to see from the moment you arrive at the event. This is particularly helpful when it comes to devising signage, catering, and determining how much time you need to allow between speakers or to move between venues. It’s good to do this in collaboration with colleagues for their fresh perspective on the event, as they can often think of things you’ve missed.

5. Go with your gut

You know when something doesn’t fit the brief, or looks like it will be more trouble than it’s worth. Have the courage of your convictions to stand up and voice your concerns. This could save a lot of heartache in the long run.

6. Ask for help and delegate

There are so many moving parts when it comes to event management that it can be overwhelming, especially if you’re developing a new event or taking over someone else’s. Delegation of key tasks is more than acceptable, but remember to follow up regularly to ensure that your deadlines are being met – you definitely can’t assume they are (we speak from experience!).

7. Call out problems as they arise

A problem shared is a problem halved. You never know who might have an innovative solution for you, or be able to escalate it to a level that can get it fixed.

Here are some handy references for you to consult when planning your next government event: