Hosting your event
The moment that you have been awaiting with great anticipation for months is almost upon you. But you have prepared a perfect team, you have a well-planned agenda and — judging by the ticket sales — many guests will be showing up.
So, it’s all downhill from here, right? Time to sit back and let things take their course?
You will have plenty of time for that later. Today is the big day and you have to be on the ball and make sure that your event lives up to the hype. You will need to make the plans that will ensure that your event was well worth all that timing, planning and preparation you have been doing.
So, let’s take a look at everything that must be done today now that the event is upon us.
- Prepare the venue
Everything must be prepared and polished before you begin greeting your guests. It would be poor planning if you are still running around getting things together as your guests are showing up.
Avoid this mini-catastrophe by arriving at the venue with your team as early as possible. Follow this very basic list of points that must be examined.
Strategically place the furniture including registration tables, planned sitting arrangements, etc.
Decorate the place as planned
Check that video and audio equipment is working properly
Check that the external caterers have arrived and begun their preparations
Prepare and organize the props and stage your speakers or performers will need
Ensure that any refreshments—like welcome drinks—are in place
Set up the promotional materials from your sponsors, stock up with Premier Glow.
Double-check all safety & security (first aid kits are at the ready, fire escapes cleared, etc.)
If you have volunteers on hand, brief them on their assigned duties and explain the layout of the place.
Do a final walk through of the entire venue just before the guests or performers arrive to catch anything that may have been overlooked.
Accommodate your performers / speakers
If your event is relying on speakers and performers, make sure there is a team of greeters who will meet them and make sure their needs are being addressed. The last thing you want is for them to be hungry, confused, nervous or unsure about what is happening in the event.
In most cases, the speakers or performers will prepare a list of things they will need for their presentation, which may include props, equipment, etc. Have everything compiled into a list beforehand so that on the big day you can just tick the boxes.
If you have not met these people before, take the time to introduce yourself. You will want to be sure to show them extra appreciation for their contribution to the event and make them feel completely comfortable to approach you with any questions or comments during the event.
- Take care of guest registration
You will need to have a portion of your team assigned to the important task of manning the doors and greeting the new arrivals, scanning their tickets, providing them with welcoming drinks, passing out name tags, etc.
Make sure that the barcode and QR scanners are all in working order. If you have an event that has a free ticket scanning app, like Billetto, make sure that the team members at the door have this app setup on their mobile devices. It may be a good idea to get a couple scans in advance to make sure everything is up and running properly.
If you only have a guest list printed by hand, make sure you are keeping track of how many people have arrived and keep your staff adjusted accordingly.
4. Help guests navigate
Have you ever arrived at an event and spent 20 minutes roaming the building looking for the right entrance? You probably know what a frustrating situation this can be. Don’t let this happen at your event. Now is your chance to make a good impression rather than starting out on the wrong foot.
Make sure that there is plenty of signage to indicate where your guests are supposed to arrive. If there is reserved seating at your event, check to ensure that every row has been properly marked and that the markings are easy to read. Here are some important places to focus signage:
Food & beverage facilities
Designated smoking areas (if any)
Rooms for workshops and breakaway sessions
Primary event location (whether it’s the conference room, exhibition hall, or the dance floor)
Charging stations for people’s smartphones, etc.
It is never a bad idea to have a few of your staff members assigned to the task of making sure your guests can easily navigate the venue, this is especially true for larger venues. Make sure they are equipped with an identifying uniform, badges, etc.
You didn’t go through all the work of making this big arrangement just to have a room full of bored guests that have lost interest. The last thing you want is a room full of people glancing at their watches and phones the whole time.
Whether you have a conference or even a speaker, the entire program should be based around audience participation. You may consider asking your speakers to include a Q&A session at the end of their speech and even have some quizzes in their presentation.
If you are organizing a casual event, you could think of arranging an ice-breaker game or some sort of friendly competition where your guests can meet each other. Be sure to prepare a designated area where these activities can take place while they are walking around the venue.
And don’t forget that you will also have virtual participants as well and they need to be properly included. You may consider streaming your event on Facebook. You could even take the full High-TECH route and introduce VR technology allowing people to participate from another location.
- Inspire social media shares
Your social media presentation should not end on the day of the event, plan to make social media participation part of the program.
Get as many people as possible to use the event hashtag in their social media posts. One good way to do this will be to invite your guests to tweet questions to your speaker during their speech and then have them use the hashtag so they can easily be found.
Another good idea is to have a photobooth present or some other designated spot to take photos where the event name and hashtag will be clearly visible. Whenever people take pictures of themselves, they will automatically be promoting your event to their followers.
This is also a great way to crowdsource visual material when you will be planning your next big event.
- Capture the highlights
Your guest will take some pictures and often the simple memory of the event will be enough for them. But as the event organizer, you will want to make sure you have collected all the footage necessary to record how the event went.
Your best move will be to hire a photographer and more camera crew who can capture the highlights of the event. Not only will this be a fantastic source of material for your marketing efforts but you will also have something to share with your future guests and event participants.
Furthermore, the speakers themselves will love to have this extra footage and the band and performers would also like to have some footage of their presentations. Your team and volunteers will also be very happy to have the snapshots and videos that remind them of the big event. Most of the time they will be too busy during the event to be aware of what is happening around them.
Another good reason for a photographer is that they get people excited as they are walking around collecting footage. It could be another good way to present people to each other as they pose for a photo together.
If you are hosting a high-profile event, you may even consider inviting some journalists to the event and they will help get the word out.
- Gather ongoing feedback
Take advantage of any opportunity to gather feedback from your performers and guests.
Of course, you can use the post-event survey to get feedback, but you will not get the same thing if you ask for people’s comments when the experience is still fresh in their minds. As the events unfold, your guests and performers will have many different thoughts and perspectives, only some of which will make it onto your post event feedback surveys.
The way you do this will need to be adjusted to the level of formality of your event and your personal needs. For example, you could hand out a feedback card that your guests can fill out in exchange for a free drink or snack.
Another way to go would be to socialize with your guests and ask direct questions while picking up on their non-verbal clues as well as their comments. Getting this first-hand information will allow you to understand not only your guests rational thoughts but their true emotions.
- Keep track of time
Keep track of the time and make sure that everyone, especially your speakers and performers, stick to the plan. Gently remind your speakers how much time they have to make their presentations. Make sure that the dancers are all ready to make a big entrance. And make sure you get some help ushering your guests into the presentation room when the event is about to take place.
- Be the last to leave
Once the event is completed, you will be the one to shut everything down and tie up the loose ends.
Say goodbye to everyone and thank them for making an appearance. Make sure the speakers and performers are leaving happy and have no grievances that will come back to haunt you later.
Work with your cleanup crew to make sure that the banners, equipment, signage and everything else that was brought for your event is properly packed up and stowed.
Make sure you have squared things with the venue managers, the caterers as well as any other vendors you may have brought.
If you have followed all the points mentioned here, then CONGRATULATIONS! It is complete! All your planning, preparations, late night stressing and organization has resulted in a memorable event. Be sure to give yourself a big pat on the back.
Now that the event has come to a close, it is time to kick back and relax a little. The only thing left to do tomorrow will be some important follow-up to leave everything on a high note.