7 Tips from an event organizer on how to avoid catastrophe
Do you ever have that feeling like you’ve forgotten something important?
As an event organizer, you have a million things to remember during your event. The big things like “who needs to be where?” and “what is happening next?” barely scratch the surface of the multitude of things you have to keep in mind.
Even a small issue can turn into a catastrophe if they aren’t managed quickly and efficiently. When problems pop up, you might be wishing you had thought of that one small fix that would have made a world of difference.
In this article, Aleksandra Lugovic, SpeakerHub’s Business Developer and Co-Founder of EuVENT shares with us some of her best advice on how to run fantastic events.
Her advice ranges from “I-wish-I’d-thought-of-that” practicality to the less than obvious nuances that can turn an event from good to great.
Tip 1: Be prepared.
Make sure you ALWAYS have the following by your side during your event: duct tape, scissors, marker, paper, tampons, safety pins and a band-aid.
You never know what might go wrong when, and who will have an emergency that could throw off the flow of your event. A marker and paper can create a makeshift sign if the directions around the venue just aren’t clear enough. If a panelist has gotten a nasty paper cut right before he is supposed to go on stage? You can patch him up. If your panel moderator has unexpectedly gotten her period, you won’t miss a beat.
You don’t have to turn into a walking survival kit, but you’d be surprised at how remembering something so small can make all the difference.
Tip 2: Take the time to prep and brief.
Make sure you’ve reminded all of your speakers and moderators a few days before the event about what time they are going on, and what you expect from them.
Even if you’ve briefed them beforehand, going over the information a second time can solidify your expectations, and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
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Tip 3: Test 1, Test 2, Test 3
Make sure you tested all your event’s audio and video equipment a few times before the event. Even if you’ve tested it once previously (or have used it half a dozen times) a second test never hurts.
Also, make sure your equipment has all the applicable cables and converters. If one of your presenter is going to be using Mac, and your local system cannot handle it because there is only VGA cable and no converter is available, both you and the presenter will be left scrambling.
Tip 4: Remind people what they are doing...multiple times.
It is wishful thinking to imagine that saying something once guarantees that it will always be remembered.
You are working with a huge range of people, from speakers to security guards, from tech support to photographers, and you need to be very clear with them about what role they are playing in the event.
Make sure you’ve reminded everyone at least twice before the event starts what you expect them to be doing.
Tip 5: Break out the VIP treatment.
If you want great speakers to come back to your events: treat them well. Your most important speakers are your VIPs, and you need to take a bit of care and extra effort to show them you appreciate them being there.
This could include things like sending a driver to pick them up and drop them off, a private lunch following the event, giving them a separate entrance and exit to avoid too much press, and sending small tokens of gratitude after the event ( for example Aleks sends them Belgian chocolates.)
Your attention to detail can make a big difference to whether they will want to work with you next time you invite them to one of your events.
Tip 6: Opposing views make panel discussions interesting.
A one sided panel isn’t really a panel at all: it is more of a group presentation. A great panel acts like a seesaw. If all of the opinions are on the one side, it won’t really work, and it will never be truly interesting to the audience. That being said: don’t court controversy for the sake of it.
Make sure you bring in well informed panelists, and a great moderator who knows the topic well, and who will spark a riveting, idea generating discussions.
Bonus tip for panel discussions: Make sure you always allow Q&A with the audience, this often generates the best material.
Tip 7: Bring in the press.
Secret societies can be a lot of fun for their participants, but they are downright horrible at sharing big ideas and having a lasting impact on communities. If you are in the business of sharing big ideas, then you are going to need some great press.
Make sure you’ve arranged media partnerships and invited targeted press members multiple times.
This will ensure your event gets coverage. Otherwise, the ideas will dry up as soon as the event is over, like it never even happened.
One of the skills the best event organizers have is their ability to think on their feet and solve problems quickly when they come up, but being prepared and having great communication can solve a lot of the issues before they can have a negative impact on your event.
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