Prepare, prepare, prepare! If you’re busy planning a corporate event right now, you’ll know that the more you can do in advance, the better chance that things will run smoothly on the day. Most PAs are prolific list writers, but what are the last-minute things you need to have on that list? The elements that you need to check once, and then check twice, to avoid disaster on the day of your event?
We caught up with Liz Taylor who has been at the helm of the leading corporate and private event management company the Taylor Lynn Corporation for over thirty years, to find out the insider knowledge on her top five ‘must check’ moments on the day of an event. In her words…
SET UP FOR SUCCESS
One thing you learn from years in event planning is to never presume things will be done as you want them. Unless of course you’re working with me! Just because you’ve briefed a team once, twice, three times, it doesn’t mean things can’t always go wrong at the final hurdle. Last minute personnel changes, staff absences, or lack of attention to detail can all feed into layout plans going awry on the day of an event. Get to your venue early and check the set up as it is in progress so that you catch mishaps in time to right any wrongs. In an ideal world or for larger events the room should be set up in advance, but always remember that a mistake caught early can save you valuable time on the day.
Once it’s all set up walk through as though you’re a guest. From the entrance through the cloak room and into the reception then through the onward journey. Go through each touchpoint as you would if you were arriving to enjoy the event. That way you’ll experience any last-minute glitches first-hand.
Check you have all the important information with you (at all times). Sounds like common sense, but if you follow one piece of advice this should be it. Personal numbers of the key players in your event team. A shared team WhatsApp group for silent messaging during the event. The guest lists. A running order. Copies of your public liability insurance. A note of any key guests that need extra attention. All key documents should be on your person and easy to access. If you don’t have a two-way radio system (and I highly recommend you do) then you need every VIP on speed dial. Do not lose your phone or leave it in your bag! Pockets, a clipboard, or a waist bag that’s easy to carry with you at all times on the day are your event-day best friends. Often our team will have IPads loaded with the key documents. This works brilliantly too. So, old school or tech driven, do whichever works best for you. I do like to keep a hard copy to hand though just in case the tech goes down though!
IN THE SPEAKER SPOTLIGHT
Double check that your keynote speakers know where they are supposed to be at what time (PA to PA is the best method here). The last thing you want, having secured that high-profile event speaker, is for them to be caught short on the day of the event. Run through any presentations to make sure everything is in working order for them. Check it works, without glitches. Put yourself in their shoes – literally. Are any of the spotlights shining in their eyes? Is it freezing cold on stage (or boiling hot under the spotlights)? Do they have a drink and everything that they need to hand to deliver their best speech unhindered?
Lighting is one of those things that can be thrown off by the smallest of changes. A professional lighting team will check for any glaringly obvious issues, but it still pays to examine the effects of your lighting from every angle. For example, a lighting setup could light the stage to perfection, but it’s no good if it throws your panel of guests into shadow – or worse has them squinting like a rabbit in headlights. Similarly for lighting tables at an evening event, check nobody has the spotlight on them (without wanting it of course!).
An event without a good wi-fi signal is 2022’s equivalent of having a dinner party with no food. It’s not just about connectivity in a work sense at a corporate event, but to spread the word about your event you need to be encouraging guests to share, like and interact on social media too. You need to be savvy in this area, and if you’re not, you need a good technical team that is. It’s not just as simple as switching on the WiFi and sharing the password. You need to consider that most people will bring more than one device, especially to a conference – can your WiFi cope with that? Think about how and when guests are likely to use it too. Conferences and indeed speakers, might encourage the entire audience to join the WiFi simultaneously, can your bandwidth keep up? Does your venue have any blackspots? It pays to know in advance if and where these are, and it’s something you should check again on the day. You also need to ensure that the key people, you and your event team, have unrestricted access to WiFi. If in doubt call in the professionals.
Liz Taylor is Founder and CEO of the Taylor Lynn Corporation, and has been at the forefront of the UK event scene for over thirty years.