Free Open Evening

Keep Calm and Volunteer at the Brits!

By Tania TilbrookApril 3rd, 2015

Getting to watch Madonna’s flawless rehearsal at the Brits this year is something we’d all have given a right arm to do, surely? A group of our students did that about 3 weeks ago, while working as volunteers at the legendary Brit awards.
Before you start thinking that life as an event manager is all celebrities and glitzy parties, it is also about working hard and thinking on your feet to keep your attendees happy. Your experience at the Brits all starts with joining a queue for security checks, at the staff entrance. At such a high profile event both guest security and preventing leaks of information about the show is a major concern. No mobile devices or even handbags are allowed into the main venue. The anticipation starts here!
One of our students taking our online diploma course, Helen Moon told us all about her experience at the Brits in 2015. She was keen to point out how important she believes volunteering is for your career development as an event manager. With 15 years experience in events, we trust her judgement on this.
With arrival at about 12 o’clock, for a shift lasting through until 8 o’clock, volunteers were anticipating spending the whole 8 hours on their feet. Division into teams and briefing on roles happened from after the security checks until 2 o’clock. Helen’s role was as wine waiter to a section of tables near the main stage. As any event manager knows, having a reliable team with enough staff to cover all the tasks needed to look after you guests in the manner they expect is critical. With such a big event there were at least 800 staff required to prepare the main hall for the guests and dinner ahead of the 5pm dinner service.
One of the amazing things about volunteering at the Brits, according to Helen, was the phenomenal sense of buzz and anticipation among the staff and later the guests. Helen tells us this created a brilliant atmosphere as she ran back and forth ensuring her tables were completely set up for the guests to arrive while big names like Take That and Kanye West ran through their rehearsals.
One of the biggest challenges Helen encountered was diplomatically persuading attendees to sit down at their tables and begin the meal. The crew were on a tight schedule for the dinner to be completely finished and all staff out of the arena by the time the live show started. She was looking after the Warner record label and Adam Lambert and as she says,
“You have to gently but firmly persuade these big characters who are intent on networking to sit down and start the meal so the show can get underway at 8 o’clock. I found building a rapport with my guests and making them laugh a bit helped put them at ease and enjoy their evening.”
Well played Helen! She managed to get some big names to do what she told them and she managed it all with a smile. Her other highlight from the evening was dashing about at 19:55 (5 minutes before all staff were to be locked out of the arena) to find a new chair for Cara Delevingne, find 2 bottles of still water and a bucket full of ice for Adam Lambert. Talk about close to the wire, she even had to argue with a security guard to be allowed back into the main arena to keep her promises to her guests.
So what is it like to be at the end of an 8 hour shift including watching huge celebrities perform and gently talking round prominent figures in the music industry? Apparently leaving as the show started and coming down from the huge high of excitement was a huge wrench. For Helen the chance to be a part of an event with so much pressure to go perfectly reminded her exactly why she loves the events industry so much and precisely why you can’t substitute live event experience with lectures.
Helen writes her own blog about being an event professional, including insights and tips on being a successful event manager and a recent post of her own about volunteering at the Brits.

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