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How PAs need to embrace change – Live from the Academic Venue Showcase

Andy Barr from Event Connections discusses event security

The role of PAs has evolved and changed as much as the industries they work within over the past 10 years. Innovations in technology, changes in expectations and an increased desire to have access to information on-demand has meant that what is expected of PAs, EAs and VAs has shifted.

Discussing how to lean into the curve and embrace the change was David Lovett-Hume, CEO and Founder of PA event planning platform Asemblr, along with a panel consisting of PA Life’s Charlotte Russell, EA Esther Dawson and EA Yvonne Reay-Scott, who provided their top tips on tackling the changing world and becoming more proactive in event organising.

Take control

Things are bound to go wrong, so be ready. Don’t assume anything is just ‘going to be fine’, there’s always going to be a hiccup at the very least. Esther Dawson encouraged the audience to see your venue from the eyes of a delegate and think of every possible issue you’d have. Attend other events in this mindset and take note.

“it’s never too early to start planning,” said Esther Dawson. “If you could do it today, don’t do it tomorrow,”

Share experience
Most PAs stumbled into the role of event planner without any formal training. When asking the audience if anyone had received formal training, the crowd responded with muffled laughter. Replacing the offer of any official training, the group was very quick to suggest PA groups. Esther Dawson herself is a part of the Mid Sussex PA group, while Charlotte Russell plays a key role within our own PA Life Club, but the whole panel emphasised the importance of building up that contact list.

“I can’t recommend highly enough joining local PA clubs,” said Yvonne Reay-Scott. “it’s very important to build up your own little black book of contacts.”

Be shameless
Don’t be afraid to negotiate to get what you want. When it comes to dealing with a strict budget, every penny counts and every saving can go towards something else; so when a venue gives you a set price, there’s no harm in seeing how you can whittle that down. A trick Esther Dawson revealed was to reduce your budget by 20% from the off, and see how your venue responds with less money.

“don’t think it’s what you ask, it’s how you ask it,” continued Reay-Scott. “You can get away with a lot if you’re charming.”

Value people
When it comes to venues, the panel was in agreement that they were most likely to choose a location where they have a good feeling about the staff. The factors change from PA to PA, with Yvonne Reay-Scott admitting she values experienced workers that are going to be attentive and want to be there, while Esther Dawson didn’t want to undervalue the importance of her own team.

“Empower your internal staff to make decisions,” said Dawson. “People shouldn’t always come to you with their problems. If they’ve been involved with you the whole time and understand their roles, there’s a lot of benefits to giving your staff a little power.”

How is your position as PA changing? Let us know on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn.