By Kristy Dixon
A great event is one where people don’t give second thought to the mundane, and they certainly don’t start analyzing logistics. An event should be a seamless experience.
Here are four tips to managing a smooth event, from internal workshops to public extravaganzas.
1. Lists, lists, lists…
Is there anything less efficient, let alone stressful, than five people running about trying to source a glass of water as the thirsty guest presenter takes the stage?
Checklists and detailed run sheets ensure a team know what’s being and been done, by who, and when. Electronic event management software may be accessible and real time for larger events, though for a smaller gathering or budget, a printed list pinned in a discreet location may do the trick.
2. Little things matter
Maybe you have fireworks, a magician, or the latest sensation in music. It can be fun to focus on entertainment or glitz or what could have people talking for months, but all the little things matter too.
The finer touches add up:
- Does the event need nametags? Present them neatly, alphabetically, or in a logical order. If you expect guests to write their own nametags offer high quality markers, nobody can read pen scribble without making conversation awkward.
- Is the event signage clear and accessible – can people find the bathroom, bar or their table easily?
- Are acoustics in the venue appropriate for the audience? If a room has air conditioning humming and outside traffic noise it will only amplify the difficulty for guests to hear.
- Consider how people are positioned relative to a screen or stage. For instance, on round tables seat 8 or 9 instead of 10, leaving a gap so nobody’s back is directly to a presentation.
- Most importantly, don’t forget your fellow event team members! Are they hydrated, not hungry, feeling positive?
This year’s Oscars proved that, even if you’ve been in events for a long time, never underestimate attention to detail!
3. Be the participant
Event management is all about planning. Just as communicators identify the target audience, when we wear an event hat we need to identify who is coming and why, what’s the best experience they can have, and how that happens.
Put yourself in the shoes of the Chairperson of the Board, or the eight-year-old kid, or the new graduates, or being able to imagine experiences across diverse populations.
By projecting what event participants need—rather than thinking of your own preference—you can deliver a more relevant experience. The ultimate way to do this is to have market research informing your event, but sometimes the budget or timeline before the event doesn’t stretch that far.
4. Have a Plan B
Risk management should be a part of every event plan. What if the weather changes, what if our emcee is ill, what if the caterer forgets the wine donated from the funder?
The key here is not to fall down the risk management tunnel, but to understand the risks and mitigate, in priority, those that have the biggest impact on the participant experience and the event objective.
As mentioned above in lists, lists, lists – contact lists and over-communicating are useful. Plan your internal team communication channels and ensure everyone is up to date and has the ability to contact decision makers in case things aren’t going to plan.
If you run a series of events develop a checklist to create future efficiencies and make improvements as you go.
It’s a great time of year to enjoy the many events Calgary has on offer, so go enjoy the experience!
Kristy is a communications specialist with experience across private industry, government, charities and start-ups. She adores the Canadian Rockies, eats Vegemite, and likes to ask, “What if?”