The day of your event is always stressful — and that’s totally normal! But worrying about what could go wrong and actually being prepared are two very different things. That’s why having a plan for anything that could derail your community event is a must for your team. 

You’ve worked hard to create an engaging experience for your audience. The last thing you want to happen is to get caught unaware by a technical issue, or worse, an emergency. And while it can feel like extra work that’s just inviting trouble, a plan is worth the effort to avoid risk.

Here’s how to create an engaging event that connects your community and keeps them safe.

Prepare for the worst

A few weeks before your event, set aside time to work through every detail of your event. Consider all the possible ways something could go wrong. Try to keep irrational fears out of it, but don’t dismiss valid safety concerns, either. The goal is to eliminate unwanted surprises. This can be a daunting task, so start with the checklist below.

Review roles and responsibilities

  • Take one last look at who on your team is handling what during the event
  • Make sure you’ve designated a point person for even the seemingly small things,  like stocking up on water and ice

Set up contingencies

  • Make sure your event budget includes contingency funds in case something has been forgotten or needs to be replaced
  • Delegate someone to take action when this happens
  • Remember, Amazon Prime, Fresh Direct, and TaskRabbit can be lifesavers

Confirm your communication plan

  • Make sure you and everyone on your team knows how you will communicate on the day of your event (WiFi, radios, phones, etc.)
  • Establish what happens if the WiFi goes down, or something goes wrong 
  • Make a plan for escalating and resolving unforeseen issues

Put together “emergency” kits for your team

  • Set aside 15-20 minutes to walk through your venue before the event starts, keeping an eye out for weak spots 
  • Look for areas that require additional attention, such as a networking issue or if your caterer doesn’t know about providing coffee to the union crew
  • Catching would-be issues like these early on does wonders for the day 

Double check your entrance plan and engagement opportunities

What happens when guests arrive? This can be one of the most important things you plan, since how guests feel welcomed can make or break their first impression of your event. It should be clear where people should go after checking in, especially for traffic flow in smaller spaces.

Here are three ways to delight your attendees upon their arrival:

  1. Ensure all staff are trained on your entrance technology.
    No one should have to wait in long lines to enter a venue, especially during bad weather.
  2. Engineer ways to surprise and delight community members upon check-in.
    Play music to set the mood and encourage community members to introduce themselves to one another.
  3. Provide an interactive (and Instagrammable) environment to explore.
    For example, a photo wall or interactive art installation that ties into your event’s theme or geographic location can be a popular backdrop for photo opportunities.

Coach your speakers in advance

When a speaker is nervous about public speaking, those nerves can translate into audience avoidance. Even speakers who don’t get stage fright can neglect to connect with the audience, treating their time on stage as a type of performance meant to entertain, rather than engage.

Coach speakers ahead of time, regardless of their level of experience, with these tips:

  • Train speakers to engage the audience by moving around the stage area and looking at the audience even if they can’t see individual faces
  • Use icebreakers to make the audience more comfortable sharing, such as a question or quick group exercise
  • Use tech tools to create conversations, like event mobile apps that allow presenters to conduct live polling in the moment

Take your community event to new heights

While giving community members the best experience possible is reward enough, one day you might just find yourself ready to share your event with new communities. Get ready for that moment with Better Together: How to Build (and Maintain) a Strong, Thriving Event Community.