One of the crucial factors in holding a successful event is to achieve the ‘perfect atmosphere’ which enables your guests to relax, interact with one another and enjoy the event's proceedings.
There is no single action you can take that will conjure the ideal atmosphere. It takes a carefully planned and managed combination of factors skilfully coordinated to ensure your event is everything you and your guests/delegates could hope for.
1. Strategy & Choosing the Right Partners
An event manager's starting point should be the development of a thorough event strategy. Once you have this completed you can identify which suppliers you will need support from. It is crucial to have the right suppliers behind you to create the perfect atmosphere at your event. Use established suppliers with experience, expertise and exceptional reputations.
Keep in constant communication with your suppliers and don't be afraid to pick their brains. Plan out the event production, room design and theme, media equipment, venue, catering and bespoke requirements with the relevant suppliers and brief your events team on the event time schedule. Allocate clearly defined roles to your events team members. Whether your event is a conference, product launch, awards ceremony or charity fundraiser, your events team must be clear about their duties for proceedings to run smoothly.
Once you have a carefully laid out event strategy and your events team is fully briefed you can set about implementing the all-important features that will establish and maintain the perfect atmosphere for your event. We know from experience that this will make your event a resounding success and a memorable occasion for every guest/delegate.
2. Choosing the Right Location
It is extremely important to choose the right venue and location for your event. Having the right venue for the type of event you are holding will enhance the atmosphere in itself. For an awards ceremony or conference the venue must have sufficient space and facilities for your targeted number of guests/delegates not to feel crammed or be stuck in queues. This also applies to product launches or bespoke, one-off events but an extra consideration is to choose a contemporary and/or novel venue to make an impact, particularly if it is more of a party than a formal affair.
Ensure your venue is conveniently located close to all major transport links (airports, motorways, tube, trains and buses) and has sufficient parking space for the projected guest/delegate numbers. 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 country retreat that provides accommodation, dining and leisure facilities in one package. This will ensure your guests/delegates can unwind and socialise with each other in enjoyable comfort.
3. Greet Your Guests/Delegates with a Friendly Welcome
First impressions count, so provide your guests/delegates with a positive one. Delegate a team leader for the welcome reception and registration area to oversee the hostesses within that space as this will free you to troubleshoot during the event.
Your hosts / hostesses should welcome every guest/delegate with a warm greeting and smile and be knowledgeable about the venue facilities, including disabled facilities. There must be enough hosts to facilitate registration and the handing out of event materials quickly and efficiently.
As a rule of thumb, you should have 1 host to every 50 guests/delegates, but take into consideration extra sessions like conference workshops which may require extra support. Your events team should be dressed according to the type of event you are holding. Remember that 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
Setting an atmosphere and creating a dramatic first impression is why mood lighting is so vital to any event. Get the lighting (and sound) right and you are well on your way to creating a dynamic event. In our opinion you need to bring in professionals to manage all of these needs. Lighting professionals can transform a venue space, creating the atmosphere you desire using varying colours and intensities of light to give an astonishing visual impact.
Among the lighting techniques that can be used are LED uplighters, which can enhance the venue's internal architecture, colour 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.
At award ceremonies your lighting engineer and event designer from the production team will create an exciting lighting design in accordance with key elements from lighting to tie in with the music such as winner announcements to guest speakers and the host going on stage.
Likewise with a dinner or launch event - lighting can transform a room and provide the right energy for the event.
Another example is using video or film.
If a projector is being used for a conference, it is important to set the light just right so that the guests can still see to take notes and have a clear view of the projected information. If a film is to be shown, the lighting state should be effective, usually with blues to enhance the set, but kept low enough to let video playbacks shine through. Turn the lights down low to give the audience the clearest viewing experience possible. If there is a product stand, you need to keep that area illuminated to showcase the displayed product examples. When there is dinner included on the event schedule, keep the lights low, but use the venue's pinpoint lighting to give each table a warm and welcoming glow.
Talk to the professionals about what you want to achieve 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
Choose a style or genre of music that suits all tastes. Calm classical music is a good choice, or some relaxed jazz. Leave the techno music for the nightclubs, unless you are holding a DJ event of course! If you are holding an awards ceremony, use 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, for example a product launch might have a signature tune from a product advertisement. Liaise with the event production team to have the soundtrack for the evening ready to go once the guests/delegates are settled in their seats.
6. Food and Beverages
It can be quite difficult to design a menu suitable for all tastes and requirements. Keep on top of trends in the catering industry and ask the opinion of your catering supplier, who will know what is current and popular. Also use past event evaluation forms to identify particular popular dishes and drinks. This will sharpen your decision making when designing your menu.
On the event registration forms prior to the evening make sure a request for notification of any special dietary requirements is included. This will save vegetarians, vegans and people with allergies from going hungry on the night. Provide water on every table and ensure adequate food, beverages and seating is available for the expected number of guests. It is a good idea to have seating and food ready for unexpected guests that might arrive on the day or night of the event.
If the venue doesn't have a catering service, hire a professional catering team. This will ensure the menu is good quality, the service is fast and efficient and the bar will not be one enormous queue of people waiting to be served. 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. All of this is to enable the guests to relax, socialise and soak up the atmosphere.
Choose healthy foods that feed the mind as heavy and sweet dishes can make the last half of the event a struggle especially with business conferences where lots of information is being presented.
If the locality in which your event is being held 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 well before the guests/delegates are due to arrive. Everything must seem in order and in place. Prior to the event, work closely with your chosen suppliers and make equipment and furniture lists based on the nature of the event and the expected number of guests/delegates. Ensure everything is ready and prepared for the big day or night.
For conferences, award ceremonies and charity fundraisers, use the cabaret style layout, as it will enable guests/delegates 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/delegates more. Product launches are often either a formal sit down event or a free wandering party. Set the room according to the requirements of the day.
It is vital to work out the best place for the stage and to consider audience sight lines. In rooms with a lot of depth relay, screens can be used to give audience members seated further back a clearer view of what occurs onstage. Remember to check all audio and visual equipment and run through content for any graphics/video/presentations for award ceremonies or conferences before the guests/delegates arrive.
You must be certain everything is in good working order and the operating team are prepared with running schedules/script and have all the necessary content.
If you have the budget, room theming using props, branding or even live acts is a great way to add an extra dimension of fun to proceedings. We recommend taking a look at websites like http://www.eventden.co.uk/ to get great decor and design ideas.
8. Choosing a Great Master Of Ceremonies
The host can make or break the occasion, so choose 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.
Follow trends in the events industry and make note of any hosts and speakers singled out as something special by colleagues and on past evaluation forms. Ask your event production team for good event hosts and speaker recommendations. We would like to add that VisionEvents have an excellent list of people to do this in their contacts book..so do give them a call.
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 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 humour 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. However, 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 will help create a fun and exciting atmosphere that keeps guests/delegates engaged.
9. Dressing the Tables
Your guests/delegates will be seated for most of an event, so make sure they are comfortable and have water throughout the proceedings. Votive candles, tea lights and small floral displays work well to set the right, relaxed mood and a bowl of sweets for peckish guests/delegates is a nice gesture.
For corporate events, you may wish to decorate the tables with linen colour coded to the company's branding or the specific event branding. A client with a strong brand identity will appreciate a high impact table centre that grabs audience attention. Branded table centres can also use ice and LED designs tied in with the stage and lighting to create a stunning and cohesive aesthetic.
To really make a visual impact, consider a different approach than the standard all white table linen. Although white is fine for conferences there are a multitude of exciting options to consider. From bespoke table centres to ice creations and LED lighting ideas we recommend taking a look at bespoke table dressing websites via a Google search.
It is always wise to have a service team made up of events staff at hand to answer any questions and bring anything to the tables required by the seated guests.
10. Saying Thank You and Farewell
You've put a lot of time and effort into creating the perfect atmosphere at your event. Now that it has come to an end you must endeavour to give each and every guest/delegate a hearty thank you and farewell. It is a nice gesture to have the same person who greeted the guests give a warm goodbye as it creates a pleasant sense of continuity.
Ask the event host to remind guests/delegates 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. Guest/delegate 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.
Of course we have to state that the most effective way to achieve all of the above is to use a professional events team. Ensure your event will run smoothly, looks stunning and has the perfect atmosphere.
Copyright to Julius Solaris is the editor of EventManagerBlog.com
How to stay ahead in conference, events industry
Cape Town - The scales have tipped on climate change action and the pressure is on cities and countries to make events greener, according to Rashid Toefy, managing director of MCI.
"Smart cities use innovative information and technology. Therefore, if we do not create 'smarter' events people won't be interested in coming here," he said at the IBTM Africa Forum in Cape Town on Thursday. It formed part of the World Travel Market (WTM) Africa taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) this week.
"There is also pressure from brands and consumers in this regard. We must take the global and societal trends that drive events into account."
The use of technology is one of the big trends in the sector for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions/events, or Meetings (MICE).
"Face-to-face and social media are not mutually exclusive. The next big thing on social media is video and live streaming," said Toefy.
"If these tech trends are not used in MICE you will be left behind. These days people can film an event on their cell phones. So, for the conference industry WiFi is very important. Spend money on better bandwidth for your event."
Data analytics is another important trend in the MICE industry at the moment.
"A wide assortment of online event systems have emerged to manage registration, exhibits, housing, room blocks, membership, event websites and budgeting. There is just so much data on customers," said Toefy.
The same goes for engagement tools - the other big trend.
"These must be worked into events in a big way and will transform the impact and power of face-to-face meetings in very sustainable ways," said Toefy.
Gamification is one tool to employ and others include wearable beacons, smart badges, match making and networking tools.
Another trend is so-called meeting architecture, which relates to the layout and planning of an event. For instance, the speaker does not always just have to be in front of a room.
Meeting architecture also relates to light, sound, smell, colours used, food and the type of interaction and the exhibition space. It is about the event design - how the event is configured.
According to Toefy, the use of multiplex rooms is an example. All participants are then linked via the internet.
A last trend he mentioned is content capture.
"Co-create, produce, stage, record and re-use what you present at your event. The technology is not that expensive and you can even share it on a pay per view basis if you want," said Toefy.
"We have to think and act in radically different ways. Ultimately people still want to do the right thing. They want a return on impact of them coming to an event."
According to Andrew Shelton, managing director of Cheapflights.co.za, one of the travel trends that’s coming through strongly in 2017 at WTM Africa is the growing use of mobile devices to research, book and document travel experiences, especially for business travel.
"Mobile technology has forever changed the face of travel planning and search and as travel to Africa increases (as predicted) over the next few years, we have found that an increasing volume of our demand comes from mobile. As a channel it now accounts for around 60% of our total traffic, and drives 40% of our revenue," says Shelton.
"This has fundamentally changed the way that we now search for travel, and will continue to do so. Expect text alerts for fare sales and price drops - or getting prices from a voice-based internet device or through Facebook Messenger as more and more people opt to plan their trips via their mobile devices.”
Copyright to www.fin24.com
*How to get the most out of a conference as a delegate*
Prepare For Your Next Conference With 9 Key Networking Tips
If you are looking for an opportunity to rub elbows with key influencers in your industry and build a networking community of like-minded, bright professionals, consider attending an industry conference, prepared, the right way. This doesn’t mean stocking up on new pens and stationary; this means doing your research, preparing your objectives and updating your contact information and online touch points. Attending a conference without proper preparation is a missed networking opportunity.
1. Define your Conference Goals
Before you sign up for any conferences, determine what you’d like to learn and how you’d like to grow professionally. Consider these common goals and find the conference that meets your professional needs:
- Learning new skills, hands on
- Hearing from industry experts
- Case studies
- Networking with peers
- Networking with potential customers
- Exhibiting opportunities
- Speaking opportunities
2. Get To Know The Event and Attendees
Find out if the event has a #hashtag and see who else is attending. This can help you network and identify key influencers to ‘bump’ into. In addition, it might be worthwhile to explore social media channels or apps that may be tied to the event. Many events take advantage of mobile apps, like WooChat, which uses beacon technology to allow attendees to browse nearby attendees and make in-person connections. It also might be wise to check out LinkedIn groups connected to the event to get to know the faces of other attendees and to get the conversation started, before the event even kicks off.
3. Find Out About Networking Events
Most conferences have a breakfast, lunch or happy hour networking session, so be sure to keep the babysitter long enough to attend.
4. Order New Business Cards
Never attend a conference without an ample supply of business cards.
5. Dress to Impress
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Be sure you look good, feel good and are dressed to make a great first impression.
6. Update Your Online Profiles
Be prepared to see a spike in profile views after any conference, especially if you have been networking. Make sure your LinkedIn, Twitter or other social media profiles are up-to-date with the kind of information that will connect with key influencers.
7. Prep Your Tech
Make sure you come prepared with chargers and all of the device accessories you may need at the conference to plug-in a stay engaged on social media.
8. Record Sessions or Take Detailed Notes
If you can record sessions, great, if not, take detailed notes that include action-items you can apply in your field of work.
9. Follow Up
If you met some key influencers or identified new client prospects, make sure you follow up after the conference in a timely manner. Networking is only as good as your ability to keep the conversation going.
Copyright to - Author: Janice Dombrowski
*Tips for Successful Conference, from the facilitator*
The facilitator’s role is vital. A facilitators’ role is to ensure everyone gets the most out of their time – what could be more important than that? There isn’t one way to be a good facilitator. You don’t necessarily have to be a mad, microphone-loving, limelight hugging extrovert. You don’t have to have a professorial knowledge of the subject matter being discussed. If you recognize the importance of the role and work through the following you will do a great job.
Start and finish on time. Welcome people, explain any housekeeping and more importantly establish ground rules so people know why they are there and what is expected. Be clear that participation is expected and that the audience itself has huge influence on how worthwhile the session will be.
Introduce speakers: this is more than reading the given introduction in the program. Boring! Add some observations of your own to the introduction. Don’t be afraid to beef up a humble introduction or downplay an introduction that is over-the-top. Generally speaking, a shorter introduction is better than a longer one. An audience only needs to know the aspects of the speaker that are relevant to the current topic so judge what is and isn’t relevant.
Relay / repeat comments if they cannot be heard by everyone. Ensure contributors can be heard and seen. Attention quickly wanders if audiences can’t connect with speakers. Interpret and clarify comments made that might not be clear.
Extract contributions from the audience in various ways. Spark discussion through your words, pictures and hand-outs.
Key Performance Indicators
- This a less specific list of the qualities that a better-than-average facilitator may display:
- The audience feels awake, engaged and included.
- Keeps discussion things on track and in the direction of Interesting.
- Creates a better, more focused, more satisfying session than would otherwise have occurred – even with the same audience.
- Keeps the bastards honest. By this we mean that the facilitator challenges assumptions, asks people to explain, counterbalances and plays the devil’s advocate. (aka advocatus diaboli in Latin). Be willing to play devil’s advocate in all directions – not just when someone says something that you find disagreeable.
- Facilitator is in control. He or she is the glue, the driver, the picture frame – but not the main attraction.
- No one person is allowed to dominate.
- Gains contributions in various ways beyond speaking such as writing via one-to-one conversations between participants which are then reported to the group.
Issues vs questions
Don’t think of your role as asking and answering questions, think of it as a chance to create a discussion of a number of related issues. Asking questions is one way to explore an issue but this can quickly fall flat in a quiet room. Ask questions but also extract responses from your audience in lots of ways – ask for personal stories, sparking conversations by showing images or distributing handouts for feedback. Poll people, get them to discuss your issues in small groups and report to the room as a whole. The choice is yours.
Tricks of the trade
- Rove: don’t get stuck behind the lectern, rove the room with a handheld microphone and a clipboard if necessary. This is just a little more dynamic and when combined with some vox popping really keeps your audience awake.
- Vox popping: don’t wait for people to raise their hands – barge up to them, ask a question and pop the microphone under their nose. This is called vox popping. Ask a simple Yes / No type question and pick someone who seems as if they have the wherewithal to respond.
- Dorothy Dixers: set up some questions, anecdotes or comments beforehand from friends or connections in the audience. This is a great way to cut straight to content that you know will be interesting.
- Displays / hand-outs: pictures tell a thousand words so, be ready to shown or distribute relevant pictures or stats or graphs.
- Trivia quiz: throw in one or few trivia questions. These can be a quick way to highlight some misconceptions and spark responses. Have a small fun prize for respondents – chocolate works well.
- Personal stories: by asking for one person’s experience you can gain contributions from people who don’t feel they have an answer but do have a relevant experience.
- One-to-one or small group chats: this can break up longer sessions nicely, enable people to get to know each other and extract contributions from shy people.
- 60 second stretches: if the crowd is getting restless give them a strict 60 seconds to stand up, stretch and have a quick natter. Then it’s back to work. This can energize a crowd.
- Written responses: ask for written responses to key questions. Again this allows the shy or scandalous to contribute.
- Ask the audience room for its immediate response to each other’s’ contributions. This can create a debate. “Anyone disagree with that?” “Anyone have any improvements to that suggestion?”
Breaking it down
Let’s say you have a 45 minute session. In reality that’s not one 45m session but a number of shorter sessions about various the various related themes. Don’t just have a general discussion about the previous session – break it down.
Have a list of such themes. Attach specific questions, comments, Dorothy Dixers and exercises for each theme. As you listen to speakers before your session note down any content that may be relevant to these themes.
Remember: facilitators aren’t always about warm baths – we all need a cold shower to wake us up every now and again.
Preparation for facilitators
- Think about your audience – who are they? what do they think? what have they got to say?
- Prepare your introduction / welcome and explaining of ground rules.
- Break the session down into various themes.
- Think about ways you will extract contributions for each theme beyond just asking straight questions. Consider your Dorothy Dixers, exercises, polls, hand-outs and slideshows.