Speaking of Events...

Julia Rutherford Silvers, CSEP

Certified Special Events Professional

Event Management Authority

Like angels and elephants dancing on the head of a pin, our dreams and responsibilities may have no limits, but must be balanced according to the music of the moment.









The Role of the EMBOK and Dynamic Preparedness Training 

in the Event Management Profession

19 February 2004

Continuous education and professional development are the cornerstones of maintaining one’s status as a competent professional. “True professionals recognize that exploration, study, research, and investigation are an integral part of their duties.” (Silvers, 2004)[i] Continuing education is compulsory for maintaining expertise within the ever-changing demands and conditions of the event management profession. Dynamic preparedness training, a system employed in emergency management to build capability through planning, training, and exercising [ii], provides the model for the design and implementation of the appropriate training for event practitioners.

Dynamic preparedness training is the continuous use of scenario and simulation exercises to research, test, and evaluate policies, processes, and procedures, allowing for practice or rehearsal rather than “practitioning” — performing unfamiliar tasks during an actual disaster (or on-the-job trial and error at an actual event). As Graham asserts, “Trial and error is the most dangerous and expensive form of learning.” [iii]

On the job training is very effective when the processes and procedures are established and the trainee is supervised. But what about the individual who is already offering a service as yet not attempted, or under circumstances as yet not experienced? This situation is widespread within the event industry as practitioners frequently develop their experience and expertise on the job after the shingle has been hung, unfortunately all too often gained at the expense of paying customers or clients.

Dynamic preparedness training, using the Event Management Body of Knowledge (EMBOK) as a prototype curriculum, can provide the practice necessary to become proficient in all aspects of professional event management. The creation and completion of scenario or assessment exercises in numerous event situations, contexts, and genres will prepare the event management practitioner for the myriad of possibilities likely to be encountered.

Such exercises need to be designed and delivered within a schedule of training committed to by the individual practitioner or performing organization’s management. These exercises should be scenario-driven simulations designed to demonstrate and evaluate one’s “capability to execute one or more assigned or implicit operational tasks,” with the desired outcome of proficiency and the development of plan revisions, procedural concepts, and/or policy recommendations. [iv]

Commitment to this training is essential. Resources for this training, however, are currently limited. Haddow and Bullock advise that the steps and cycle necessary to achieve preparedness requires a “foundation that ties academia and structured analytical methodologies with tradition.” [v] Here, again, individuals and industry and academia might use the EMBOK as a prototype curriculum to develop training programs and products to support dynamic preparedness training.

Individual practitioners may use the EMBOK as an assessment instrument to identify gaps in skill and experience, and then devise exercises that will employ the tasks associated with these weaknesses. For example, the individual might develop a budget and timeline for a theoretical event or seek the opportunity to observe a colleague from the desired discipline performing the required operational tasks, such as creating a sponsorship proposal or installing lighting equipment.

Individual event management companies may use the EMBOK to develop in-depth programs that support the on-the-job training needs for the particular product or service provided. In addition, the prototype curriculum may be used to evaluate the cost-benefit analysis of investing in industry offerings such as conventions, conferences, programs, and products, as well as the investment in creating proprietary programming, which may subsequently be marketed beyond the performing organization itself.

Industry associations (and their chapters) may use the EMBOK as a guide for determining program content for conventions and conferences, as well as developing commercial products and training programs to be marketed to their constituents. Certification programs offered by industry organizations may also use the EMBOK to structure the standards by which candidates will be assessed, as well as the preparatory products and programs established to support the educational requirements for certification.

In addition to providing degree and certificate programs in event management based on the EMBOK, academia has an opportunity to expand its market through continuing education offerings and distance learning programs targeted at current practitioners’ dynamic preparedness training needs. Since no academic credentials, private occupational certification credentials, or government-issued licensing are required to practice this profession, many, if not most, event management practitioners have been hired or hung out their shingle without a formal education in this field. As dynamic preparedness training is embraced, this gap may be filled with revenue producing, accredited programming.

The academic community must also be active in creating new knowledge through research and developing analytical methodologies that support the universe of tasks associated with event management functions. The deliverables from these activities may then be integrated into the dynamic preparedness training programs and products created by and for the industry.

The commitment to dynamic preparedness training begins with the understanding that every event, whether one-off or annual, meeting or festival, celebration or conclave, is different. And event management is an increasingly demanding profession that requires a commitment to life-long learning—learning that is best acquired through practice and experience that is preferably not gained through “dangerous and expensive” trial and error. Practice does make perfect, however one can almost hear the event management customer (client) say, "but not on my event, please."


[i] Silvers, Julia Rutherford (2004). Professional Event Coordination. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., p. 427.

[ii] Haddow, George D., and Jane A. Bullock (2003). Introduction to Emergency Management. Butterworth-Heinemann, p. 115.

[iii] Graham, Stedman, Joe Jeff Goldblatt and Lisa Delpy (1995). The Ultimate Guide to Sport Event Management & Marketing. Irwin Professional Publishing, p. 19.

[iv] Haddow, George D., and Jane A. Bullock (2003). Introduction to Emergency Management. Butterworth-Heinemann, pp. 129-130.

[v] Ibid. p. 117.


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