by Annette Naif
One of the most important parts of a successful event is the atmosphere! A great atmosphere allows your guests the ability to relax, interact with other guests and enjoy the festivities of the events. Below are ten steps to managing a great event!
1. Strategy Development and Having the Right Support
When planning an event, an event manager should start with developing a thorough strategy. Once this is done, you can begin to identify the vendors and suppliers you’ll need support from for the event. This will go a long way in helping you create the perfect event atmosphere. Be sure to use established suppliers with experience, expertise and exceptional reputations.
While planning the event, be sure to keep in constant communication with your vendors and suppliers. Have a clear plan for the event production, room design, event theme, media equipment, venue, catering, etc. and let your event team know what the event schedule will be so they can best support you. Regardless of what type of event you are having (a conference, product launch, awards ceremony or charity fundraiser) make sure your event team is clear about their responsibilities in order to ensure a smooth event.
2. Location, Location, LocationChoosing the right location and venue is extremely important when planning your event. The right venue will enhance the atmosphere of the event. You’ll want to take into account the type of event in order to make sure the layout and event space is sufficient. For example, for an awards ceremony or conference, the venue must have plenty of space and facilities for your event guests not to feel crammed or be stuck in queues. One-off events will take a little bit more consideration, so you may want to choose a contemporary or novelty venue to make an impact, (particularly if it is more of a party than a formal affair).
Something else to keep in mind is that you’ll want to make sure your venue is conveniently located close to all major transport links (airports, motorways, trains and buses) and has sufficient parking space for the projected number of guests. A single day event is most conveniently held in a town or city with good transport links, but for a weekend conference it is a great idea to use a more rural retreat that provides accommodation, dining and leisure facilities in one package.
3. Make Your Guests Feel Welcome
First impressions count, so provide your guests with a warm and positive welcome. Have a team leader for the welcome reception or the registration area to oversee the hostesses within that space as this will free you to troubleshoot during the event.
Every guest should be welcomed by a host or hostess by someone warm and friendly, and also someone familiar with the venue facilities and layout. I recommend 1 host to every 50 guests that will be in the event.
Remember that as an event planner, you are representing your client, so check the dress code with them. Corporate events and conferences usually require business wear, while awards ceremonies usually require evening wear.
4. Set the Mood with Lighting
I’m a stickler about lighting! Setting an atmosphere and creating a dramatic first impression is why mood lighting is so vital to any event! If you can get the lighting (and sound) right, this will help you create a very dynamic event.
Lighting professionals can transform a venue space helping to create an atmosphere you desire – they have the ability to use various colors and intensities of light to give an astonishing visual impact, LED uplights, color washes which can give the event stage impact, and many other great technies that can help transform a room and provide the right energy for an event.
Among the lighting techniques that can be used are LED uplighters, which can enhance the venue’s internal architecture, color washes to give impact to the stage, ceilings and walls, and gobos, which can liven up dead spaces by shining patterns or corporate logos onto them.
Talk to the lighting professional you are working with to achieve the desired venue look you’d like and let them guide you on the latest technology or tricks of the trade to get this all-important aspect right.
5. Create Ambiance with Music
When planning an event, music is a fun part of an event to plan. You’ll want to choose a style or genre of music that suits all tastes as there will be a variety of people at the event. Calm classical music is a good choice, or some relaxed jazz, for most events. If planning an awards ceremony, consider using snippets of contemporary hits to liven the evening up a little when winners are invited to the stage.
Sometimes the clients will have their own music to play that might compliment a product or service they offer, so be sure to check with them to coordinate and get their input on the music.
6. Food & Drinks
Picking out a menu to fit all types of tastes and requirements can be quite difficult. You’ll want to keep on top of trends in the catering industry and ask the opinion of your catering vendor to know what is current and popular and what might work for your event. This will go a long way in helping to design your menu for the event.
If possible, on the event registration forms prior to the event, ask for special dietary requirements that may be needed. This will save vegetarians, vegans and people with allergies from going hungry at the event.
During the event, be sure to have plenty of water available on each table and ensure adequate food, beverages and seating is available for the amount of guests expected. It is also a good idea to have seating and food ready for any extra guests that may arrive the day of the event unexpectedly.
If the venue where the event is being held doesn’t offer catering, you’ll need to hire a professional catering team. This will ensure the menu is good quality, the service is fast and reliable. Choose delectable dishes for the menu to impress the guests and stock the bar with a wide range of soft and alcoholic drinks and ask your catering team for advice to avoid wines that are an acquired taste. This will make for a relaxing and enjoyable event for all guests. It’s also a good idea to consider the location your event is being held in, so that if the locality has a delicacy or signature dish it is a nice gesture to place it on the menu.
7. Set the Room to Meet Requirements
Your events team should set the room to meet the particular requirements of the event and this should be done well before the event guests arrive. You’ll want to make sure everything is ready and prepared for the day of the event.
For conferences, award ceremonies and charity fundraisers, use the cabaret style layout, as it will enable guests to interact and mingle. You should also consider a catwalk style stage for conferences, as it enables the host and guest speakers to walk out into the room and engage with guests more. Product launches are often either a formal sit down event or a free wandering party. So you’ll want to take this into account when setting the room.
One thing to keep in mind when planning the stage layout is to consider the audience sight lines. If rooms have a lot of depth, screens can be used to give audience members seated further back a clearer view of what is happening onstage. Remember to check all audio and visual equipment and run through content for any graphics/video/presentations for award ceremonies or conferences before any guests arrive.
8. Choosing a Great Master Of Ceremonies
The host of any event will either make or break the occasion, so choose wisely who will take control of the audience and manage the proceedings in a professional manner. The host must set the atmosphere of the event, striking the right tone according to the subject and objective of the event.
You’ll want to pay attention to trends in the events industry and make note of any hosts and speakers singled out as something special by colleagues or on past evaluation forms from previous events.
It is also worth attending industry networking events where hosts, speakers and live acts showcase their talents. Naturally, for a product launch you might want the company CEO as the host. For a conference, think about an impartial expert on the events subject. An awards ceremony needs a host with a vivacious character and a good sense of humor who can take control of a room, as often alcohol is involved.
A charity fundraiser requires someone knowledgeable about the cause who can encourage guests to donate.
Please note that it is absolutely essential that the host, guest speaker or chair for any type of event is able to encourage the participation of the audience – this is extremely important in creating a fun and exciting atmosphere that keeps event guests engaged and excited.
9. Table Dressings
Since guests at seated events will be seated for most of an event, make sure they are comfortable and have water throughout the day. Votive candles, tea lights and small floral displays work well to set the right, relaxed mood and a bowl of sweets is also a nice touch.
For corporate events, you may wish to decorate the tables with linen color coded to the company’s branding or the specific event branding. Your client will appreciate a high impact table center that grabs audience attention and matches their brand identity.
It is also a good idea to have team members on hand to answer any questions and bring anything to the tables as requested by the seated guests. This is a nice touch!
10. Saying Thank You and Farewell
At the end of the event, make it a point to give each and every guest a hearty thank you and farewell. It is a nice gesture to have the same person who welcomed the guests give a warm goodbye – this will help to create a sense of continuity to the event.
Ask the event host to remind guests half way through the event to fill out any evaluation forms and hand them in at the reception desk at the end of the event. This type of feedback is crucial as it provides your client with valuable facts and figures as a return on investment and enables you to improve the event for the next time.
Many events are made all the more special at the end by presenting guests/delegates with a gift or goodie bag. Remember to place your client’s business card within the gift packaging or goodie bag, so that anybody who wishes to contact their company can do so.