Summer is a big season for corporate events… but it’s also time to start thinking about the ones that will be taking place next year.
Business Insider events operations manager Lisa Lynas has been organising them for 13 years and counts major shindigs such as our Deals and Dealmakers Awards, the Accountancy and Financial Technology Awards and Deals and Dealmakers Breakfast among her team’s achievements.
So who better to ask for 10 essential tips to make sure your event goes smoothly?
Set a budget and stick to it
You can easily get carried away with spending on your event, on things like room decor, staging and ice scupltures. We once spent extra on a blue carpet instead of a red one, stilt walkers and fire breathers. Which was all very well but if you keep bursting your budget, you won’t be trusted to organise events for long. Just make sure everyone has fun and ask yourself: “Will this really make the night more memorable?
We have had instances when we arrived to find there was no winners cards and we were furiously hand writing them as the show was starting.
Another time we didn’t check with the trophy supplier when the trophies were due to arrive via courier. They eventually turned up at 10.30pm… just as the event was finishing. And don’t keep the plan to yourself. If someone has to pull out at the last minute, everyone else needs to know what they were to be doing. It’s important that more than one person knows what’s going on.
If something goes wrong, the golden rule is that the show must go on. On one occasion, the trophy assistant fainted on stage during the ceremony. Her sister was at the side of the stage and calmly stepped over her before handing over the prizes. What a professional.
Be prepared for the unexpected
A very senior politician was on stage to present a prize when the pyrotechnics went off in his direction. He jumped two feet in the air and looked like he was gong to have a heart attack. For some strange reason, we’re still waiting for the call to organise his party conference.
Always be prepared to do something different to make people remember the event (within budget, of course). Themed nights are a great way to do this – I have dressed as a playing card for an Alice in Wonderland night and as an air hostess for an ‘around the world’ theme.
Insist on rehearsals
We had an instance where the presenter didn’t bother with the rehearsal. They got on stage an announced an award winner before the finalists had even been read out. Another time, we had a host who thought he was handing over to a speaker and walked off in the middle of the ceremony.
Not everything has to go to plan
Remember – the audience have not read the script, they do not know what is meant to happen when. If someone goes off script, it doesn’t necessarily matter. As long as nothing goes wrong, that secret can remain safe with you.
Work with a reliable venue and suppliers
We once had a venue that served cold broccoli as a starter. Another time the programme was printed back to front and missing some of the pages. Ask around other organisers and once you find a reliable supplier or suppliers, try to stick with them. Until they drop you in it…
Learn from constructive criticism
Don’t take it personally when people give you their views after an event. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t tell you at all, so see it as a positive that they’ve made the effort. Use everything you are told to help you to make it even better next time. No event is ever perfect – though ours are pretty damn close.
Create a clear event identity
Carry your event through from start to finish – from the marketing through the social media to the staging. Use the same fonts on your event programme, invites, place cards and signs. Keep the colours uniform consistent from the promotional material through to the big night as well.
Lisa Lynas is events operations manager at Reach Scotland