This is a guest post from BlueJeans customer Christian Binder. With over two years of experience running both in-person and online events for Red Hat, Christian has some tips to share when it comes to running a successful event from behind the scenes.
Let’s admit it—public speaking isn’t exactly high on anyone’s “favorite things to do” list. But in this day and age, and especially in the technology world, anyone can be called on to do a large-scale presentation. That’s why it’s best to be prepared on all fronts: before the event, during the event, and after the event.
As the live events technician for Red Hat, Inc., based in Raleigh, North Carolina, I’ve run quite literally hundreds of events, big and small, since I joined the company in August 2015. I’ve seen it all—from small team meetings and product demos to our annual expo to the world, Red Hat Summit. So today, I want to share five tips that I’ve learned over the years that will help you have a successful event no matter the venue.
It takes a village to run an event. Sometimes that village is more like a hut and sometimes it’s like a major metropolitan city. Whether your team is small or large, ensuring everyone is on the same page is absolutely critical. You know that old saying, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link?” Well, the same thing applies to running an event. Communicate constantly with your presenters and all the behind-the-scenes folks and you’ll be good to go on event day!
2. Know your equipment.
This is one of those details that always seems to fall through the cracks until right before the event begins. If you’re presenting remotely, know the Wi-Fi speed you’re dealing with in whatever environment you might be in—your home office or a hotel room, for example. This is especially important if you’re in a shared space where you’re not getting a strong, dedicated signal.
Make sure your headphone microphone works. If you’re dialing in with your phone for audio, make sure you have the right phone number and that you have a good cell signal or use a landline. Little things like that can really make or break an event. Fortunately, BlueJeans has resiliencies in place to compensate for poor internet speeds, but it helps to be conscious of your environment and your setup.
3. Set deadlines, and stick to them.
“Hold on, I have to make one more change to the slide deck.” Ever heard that before? Like maybe two minutes before your event is about to begin? I have, more times than I would like to count! Presenters always want to make sure they’re putting their best foot forward, and sometimes that means tweaking a word or two or adding a new slide with more data.
That’s all well and good, but for the technicians running an event, it can be a nightmare. For event organizers, make sure you set a drop-dead date for finalized presentation materials. For presenters, make sure you adhere to those deadlines. It’s a lot more comforting knowing that your material is finalized well before your event, rather than making last-second changes.
4. Dry run, dry run, and then dry run again.
I’m not sure I can stress this enough. If you have the opportunity to do a dry run, do it. And then do it again. Maybe your first dry run is just getting a feel for the space—whether that is in a physical room or on BlueJeans Events. In practice, I do this by holding a 30-minute training session with people who might have a webinar or virtual team meeting to get them used to the Events interface. It’s always better to know what you’re working with in advance, instead of seeing it for the first time when you’re about to present.
Dry running is also extremely important for live demos. Nothing is worse than demoing a new product or feature, without having tested it first, and then hitting a roadblock because the beta doesn’t work properly. Take 30 minutes of your time and get comfortable with everything. And if you have an hour, take another 30 minutes to run through everything again. After all, practice makes perfect.
Above all else, this might be the most important. Events are stressful. You might be getting ready to put on an event in front of 5,000 people. That’s scary! Take a deep breath, be confident in yourself and just go for it. No matter what happens, the sun will still rise tomorrow and the world will keep turning. And once you have a few events under your belt, everything will become second nature. Repetition is the key... Once you have it down, you’ll face each new challenge calm, cool and collected.
I’m sure I could go on about this for days, but these are just a few tips that will help you take your productions from good to great. Think of something I missed? Leave your best tips in the comments so others can take advantage of your knowledge. Good luck with your future events!