Event tips and tricks

1.   Be prepared!

Do you have an event strategy? Have you aligned the event objectives with the overarching business goals?

Without an event strategy, you are wandering in the jungle without a map.

Start by asking yourself some basic questions:

  • Why is the event taking place?
  • Who do you want to attend?
  • What do you want people talking about after they leave the event?
  • What part of the event is the most crucial?
  • What key messages are you trying to convey at this event?
  • What strategies or tools are being used to ensure people are communicated the key messages?
  • How will you be evaluating this event?

2.   Choosing the right Music

If you are organising an Awards Presentation give careful thought to the musical elements of the event. It is common for events such as Awards Presentations to have walk‐up music or ʹstingsʹ that accompany the announcement of each winner. This is an important part of the build up and celebration of each winner and adds significantly to the excitement and atmosphere of your event.

Try not to use the same piece of music for every category winner, especially if you have numerous awards. Hearing the same ʹstingʹ over and over again can become very repetitive, distracting and annoying to your audience. It also devalues the final major winner of the night if the same ʹstingʹ has been heard countless times previously.

By having a number of different ʹstingsʹ, based around a common theme, you can deliver variety throughout the course of the event. This will ensure you maintain a high excitement level at all times.

3.   Choosing the right screen

An important aspect of projection screens often overlooked is black masking borders, more commonly known as screen borders. These are designed to optimise your projected images in a number of ways.

Firstly, perceived brightness of an image on a screen is relative to the light projected on the screen when compared to the surrounding background. For example, if you placed a border‐less screen against a plain white wall the image would appear relatively dull and lifeless. However, by incorporating a black border around the screen, the human eye perceives the image to have more contrast and detail with brighter colours. The eye is comparing and contrasting the projected image with the black border.

Secondly, the borders operate like a frame around a picture. They focus the eyes on the content of the screen and present a professional look to your audience.

Screen borders also help to hide minor flaws in the projected image. They can mask out unevenness caused by out‐of‐level equipment, images improperly framed due to focus limitations or distance from the screen and slight keystoning caused by the projection image not being aligned 90 degrees to the screen.

4.   Choosing the right size screen

When choosing a projection screen for your event, make sure it is the right size so that everyone can see whatʹs on screen.

Hereʹs an easy way to calculate the right size screen for your event. Simply measure the distance from the screen to the last row of seats. Divide this by 6 to give the optimum screen height.

For example, if the distance from screen to back row is 30 metres, you will need a 5m (or 15ʹ) high screen.

If the venue ceiling height will not accommodate this size screen you may need to consider multiple smaller screens placed around the room, closer to the audience.

5.   Choosing the right venue

Does your event involve projection or special lighting effects? If so, the following tip will help you reduce costs and increase impact at your next event.

When choosing venues for special events it can be tempting to select ones with spectacular views. This may be fine for cocktail, networking or social types of events. For other corporate events you probably want your audience to focus on the presenters, screen or stage. If so, be wary of rooms that have large windows and/or skylights.

To create the ideal viewing environment with maximum impact you ideally need an environment free of ambient light. This enables the room to be put into semi or total darkness at the appropriate times.

Windows and skylights need black‐out blinds that can be quickly, easily and unobtrusively drawn. If the venue does not offer this ability you may incur additional costs in arranging for black‐out draping.

The best option is to visit the proposed venue at the time of day your event is scheduled, ideally with your event provider. They can then advise on the suitability of the venue in accommodating your event needs, within your budget.

Another advantage of window blinds is to remove any external distraction that may take the audience’s focus away from your event.

6.   Creating an emotional experience

Successful events create emotional connections with their audiences as well as effectively communicating with them. This is why corporate events are often referred to as business theatre.

Memorable events create theatrical, emotional experiences that have great impact.

Creating an emotional experience requires careful thought and planning. The following are just some of the elements that should be considered:

  • What emotions are you trying to create, or tap into?
  • How will your event be structured and run to achieve this?
  • What is the best venue that will assist in this process?
  • How can the stage be designed to maximise the connection between presenters and audience?
  • What audio visual material can be used to build the emotions?

The answers to these types of questions, as well as many more, will have a bearing on venue selection. They will also help in designing the creative and technical elements of your event.

For example, if you want to take your audience on an emotional journey then a standard hotel ballroom may not be the best option. And if you need powerful and stunning vision, sound and lighting using standard in‐house equipment will most likely not be suitable.

Many event providers can supply a room and equipment for an event. But it takes creative and technical experts to deliver an event that will be a memorable, emotional and successful experience that has ongoing effect.

7.  Run your meeting to time

Timing is an important ingredient for the success of any meeting or event, especially when multiple presentations are involved. No one will ever complain if you achieve your event objectives with time to spare ‐ they are, in fact, even more likely to thank you.

Here are a few technical tips to help your presenters run to time: Chairmanʹs Buzzer ‐ This is an electronic device for the table or lectern that allows the technical operator to communicate pre‐arranged timings with the presenters. It also lets the presenter prompt the operator with specific cues such as video runs.

Lectern Timer ‐ A working backlit clock and timer should be a standard part of every lectern. It allows the presenter to see the time elapsed whilst they are on stage and helps them run to schedule.

Foldback Monitor ‐ If you are using a foldback monitor onstage it is easy to intersperse the speaker support slides with a countdown clock (visible only to the presenter) giving the presenter a visual reminder of time remaining.

Make sure any lecterns you use have a fully functional clock and countdown timer. They should also have a light to illuminate the presentersʹ notes in the darkest of rooms.

8.  How to maximise your event dollars

Maximising your event dollar is becoming an increasingly difficult challenge. The following tip will help you stretch your dollars further and get a better end‐result.

The key first step is to involve your event company as early as possible in the event process, certainly before you finalise your venue.

If you go to a venue and use the in‐house audiovisual provider they will work on fitting your event into their space. They will probably try to shoehorn all the elements of your event in to the available room/s, using their available equipment in that venue.

A better alternative is to use the resources of an independent technical expert. With their knowledge and experience you will gain critical information before and during the site selection process. This means that you will be fully aware of all the advantages and limitations of a particular venue prior to making a final venue selection.

Aspects that will be covered in a technical overview may include the following:

  • What are the total power requirements?
  • Are there special access issues?
  • Are there security issues?
  • How much space do you need? (inc. floor space, ceiling space, breakouts etc)
  • Are there going to be blackout issues?
  • How much time will you need to set‐up, rehearse and packdown?

The answers to these and other questions will help guide your venue selection process. It will ensure you don’t waste time looking at venues that are unsuitable for your event needs.

During these early planning stages an event company will gain an insight into exactly what you are trying to achieve. They will then offer a number of options that are available, some of which may offer better value for money.

Your event company will also provide a true and independent overview of the expenditures involved from a technical perspective. You will gain an insight into how the technical elements will best be structured so as to achieve your goals and objectives.

This process can help ensure your important event objectives are achieved, without compromise. It will also ensure you get the best value from your event dollar.


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