There was only a week to go before the major product launch and Sara had a “concern”; a phrase she used when she was shaking in her boots with sheer panic. She had been checking with all of the presenters to make sure that their presentations were well into development, if not complete and, although she had not heard or read them all from end-to-end, she could tell that there was an unacceptable amount of repetition. The audience was in danger of walking out after the first hour if she could not convince these high-flying executives to modify their approach.
Originally, Sara, as the event organizer, thought she could avoid a rehearsal to save cost and time, she now saw that this might be the only way to rapidly convince the presentation team to “adjust” their material. “Adjust”, in this case, might mean “completely rewrite” but it sounds less challenging.
Wherever possible, it makes sense for the entire event team to assemble before the event to run through the complete timetable. If this cannot be done at the venue, then find somewhere that is a close approximation to the venue in size and shape. Lay out the audience seating as you believe it will be and provide the equipment that will be available on the day. Invite along a few colleagues who can spare the time to act as the audience and provide valuable feedback.
As the event organizer, you should be most interested in the timing of each activity and, if elements of the program turn out to be too long or too short, don’t try to debate how to change them there and then. Let the entire event run its course, take copious notes about areas for improvement and then once the final words of the event have been spoken, hold a formal review meeting to discuss how the program or the timetable should be modified in order to better fit the time available.
Other review subjects may include:
- presentation content
- quality, consistency and clarity of slides
- segue design between elements
- energy levels in the audience throughout the event
If you have not run an event before, this is a useful opportunity to gauge how much time you will need to set up and dismantle everything that is to be used on the day and to plan any last minute changes that might need to be made.
Sara’s “concern” was quickly taken on board by the entire presentation team when they were given an opportunity to sit and listen to each other’s scripts during the rehearsal day and they quickly decided on a recovery strategy. As a result, on the day the event flowed effortlessly from beginning to end without noticeable repetition. According to the audience feedback, they were entertained and informed and they found the presentations to be slick and professional. Although Sara may not have been fully recognized for saving the day, she was praised for her quiet efficiency as event organizer.