Sarah Halfpenny Events

Event Mishaps: Don’t fail to prepare

by Sarah Halfpenny

So after spending many hours planning and organising your event the last thing you want is for the event itself to be a stressful and exhausting experience. Unfortunately, just by the very nature of managing live events, sometimes things just don’t run to plan and yes they can go wrong. Below are my frequent annoyances that can prevent the smooth running of an event and my top 4 preparations that can be put into place to help you manage these potential hiccups.

Top Tip number 1: Create a schedule of the day
It’s so important to schedule all the key tasks of the day. Allocate enough time to set up all the delegate areas such as registration, exhibition and PR stands. Its also important to schedule the arrival times of your suppliers, speakers or entertainers to allow them time to unload, set up and rehearse without an audience.

Top Tip number 2: Allow some contingency time
From experience there are some reoccurring causes of delays that can provide tricky to deal with but if you are prepared for these then there should be no need to panic. The following are the ones I have most commonly come up against.

• You’re creates and boxes with everything you need in them do not arrive at the venue
or more frustratingly the boxes have arrived at the venue but the venue have no record
of where they have stored them!
• Your AV technician is late or there is a problem with your laptop, projector or sound
causing unexpected delays.
• You arrive and the cleaners either haven’t cleared up from the event before or in the
middle of hovering.
• You arrive and the room layout is not what had been agreed.
• Your stakeholders arrive late or they are simply just unprepared so they are stressed
on arrival and require some management and hosting.

If you build some additional time into your schedule, then you should be in a position to manage these unexpected delays and respond to them with ease not panic.

Top Tip Number 3: Allocate tasks and set responsibilities

By providing your on-site staff team with clear tasks and areas of responsibility you will ensure that every element of the event is covered. Some key areas of responsibility that I find helpful to allocate are below.

• Meet the venue staff on arrival to ‘walk the course’. This will ensure signage is up,
the room is set to your exact requirements, deliveries have been located and AV is
• Meet the chef and catering staff to check dietary requirements, final numbers and
• Meet with the audio visual staff and check requirements. Ensure you run through all
the presentations and check all slides, film and audio are working.
• Oversee the set up and management of the delegate registration desk.
• Set up the promotional material and banners
• Manage set up of exhibition stands and host exhibitors
• Speaker, entertainer, sponsor and partner management

If all these areas are covered then it will leave the event manager to oversee the smooth running and host the event itself.

Top Tip 4: Fully brief all stakeholders

This is a simple task but sometimes in the lead up to an event it can go astray. In short you need to ensure that all your key speakers, entertainers and presenters are fully aware of what you need from them before the event, what they need to bring with them, where they need to go and at what time. Likewise, you need to do the same with all suppliers, exhibitors, partners and VIPs. If this aspect is managed well then everyone will feel confident they know what they are doing on the day alleviating unnecessary stress.

So in brief if you schedule the day, allow more time than you think you will actually need, allocate tasks and brief all stakeholders you will have gone some way to reducing the risk of something going wrong. Remember just be prepared, adjust when things go wrong and respond professionally. What could go wrong?