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Tips and How Tos

Woman playing baseball by the rules circa 1920's

Whose Rules?

Whose rules are you following?

Who makes the rules?

Are you a rule breaker, a rule maker, or a rule shaker?

Some things in life are soothing. One of them is following the rules. The traditions. The way we do things.

Rules: The Back Story Upfront 

I was living in France and invited to a friend’s weekend home. It was spring and the weather was gorgeous. My friend had loads of visitors and family there. When I arrived, everyone was gathered outside and they all beamed at me when I walked up. It was so strange – I didn’t know anyone but the host and his family. Everyone stared at me expectantly and I was unsettled… then he introduced me “This is Jan, she’s from America. Jan teaches us how to play the baseball!“ 

Panic–if you know me at all you know that I don’t know anything about sports. All I knew about baseball was that there’s a bat, a ball, and a glove, and the ball fits in the glove. I said as much. They were relentless. They said, “We need your help! We are sure you have a better idea of how to play than we do!“ I looked around and saw that they had placed three bases and a home plate. They had a glove, a bat, and a ball. 

What could I do? I split them up into two teams, had somebody pitch, somebody bat, and somebody catch. I told them to run if they hit the ball, and if they got tagged they were out. We had a blast and we all won. 

Events and Rules

Rules: when to break ‘em, when to make ‘em, and when to shake ‘em.

Rule-following, -breaking, and -shaking happens in the world of events because there is ALWAYS something unexpected that happens. Frequently, it’s the rules that change. Maybe somebody didn’t tell us their rules. Maybe they mis-told us the rules. It could be that they simply didn’t know which rules to tell us. 

Planners, entertainment companies, venues, caterers, AV companies, DJs, and designers all have their own ways of doing things. Do they have hard and fast rules? Sometimes. WHY do they have those rules? To prevent a log-jam for the service elevator? To make sure their equipment stays safe and ON site?

How Other People Do It

It doesn’t always matter how everybody else does things. Take a moment and try something new. I am happy to say that I’ve learned to improvise with the best of them. For example, your structure starts ‘blowing in the wind.’ Amazing how many different solutions you’ll find….

Some rules are really important. For example, the load-carrying capacity of a beam is indisputably important. The amperage that a circuit can carry is of paramount importance. The order of a ritual might be important for some people and it might be open to discussion for others. If you don’t ask you’ll never know. Even though I wouldn’t put acrobats’ lives in danger by using a beam that is structurally inappropriate and I wouldn’t overload a circuit, I would rewrite the rules of The Baseball.

The Low-Down on Rules

Sometimes we don’t know what the rules are or that there are rules. Sometimes we have to improvise. Probably more often than we think. When you don’t know what the rules are, you have a couple of choices: 

1.  Look around and see what everyone else is doing.

2.  Pretend you know what you’re doing.

3.  Admit you don’t know the rules, and ask for guidance.

4.  Improvise! 

How do you decide which choice you should make?

  1. Will you potentially hurt anybody or anything? (Is it safe?)
  2. How important is it?
  3. How quickly do you have to react?

Here are your three basic choices:

  1. Terrified, you leap into action, make the wrong decision, and are scarred for life.
  2. You take a deep breath, do a relatively good job, size up what you could do better, and note it. Everybody is thrilled with the results.
  3. Jump in, accidentally break the rules but save the day. Then realize it wasn’t so bad after all (actually pretty cool!) and you’ve figured out a better way to do things!

Use those moments where everything has been turned upside down, equipment breaks down, venue operator doesn’t arrive on time, the bride’s dog gets into the cake—whatever it is, you’ll be amazed at what you learn when you make up the rules. Play Ball!

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Build a Contact-Free Booth

Build a Contact-Free Entertainer Booth

What Are You Building Your Booth for?

To build a contact-free entertainer booth, decide if it’s for one-time use or if you’re building it to last. Ours is built to last. It’s solid and structurally sound, easily assembled and disassembled, and made of high-quality components. The panels are solid wood and the entire structure is built on a base with casters. That makes it simple to easily reposition during an event.

Who Is It For?

Take into consideration the height of the booth. Who is your target audience? Can they access the secret trap door and see the entertainer? If you’re traveling with the booth, consider the average height in different countries. The window height in Scandinavia will be different then in Japan. Not generalizing, but we want to be specific to our clients’ needs and demographics when we show up.

Lighting can make your booth stand out. On a trade show floor, we’ll set the LED colors to differentiate ourselves from the other booths and the overall design of the hall.

It’s All in the Details!

What size booth are you aiming for? We’d recommend enough space for one entertainer to be able to move or sit comfortably in the booth. Ours is 84.7″ h x 35″ w x 21″ d, which keeps it pretty Handy😁!

To make your booth contact-free, you’ll need a communication system, a barrier of some sort, and a way to share items with attendees. Even though there are lots of options, we built a trap door into the booth base, about 2 feet from the ground. This lets us surprise guests and make sure our smallest guests can be part of the action!

Other Things to Consider

How fragile is your booth in terms of shipping? Is shipping necessary for long hauls? How much does it weigh? Will it safely fit into a vehicle and be protected from the elements? How long will it take to set up and break down? How much power will you need? Is a step stool necessary to set it up? Will you use curtains? Signage? What materials will you use? How will you suspend or attach them? Will you make general announcements from the booth? Do you have a microphone? How about an air purification system? Sunshield? Sandbags? Will your costumed entertainer need heating or a fan?

Even More Details

Word to the wise: If you are working in the great out-of-doors in the Southeast from March to October, don’t forget your insect repellent, sunscreen, and water! Cooling vests and cooling cloths are also really helpful.

Oh, and as you can tell by the video, setting up the booth is very quick😉!

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How to Maximize Event Accessibility

Maximizing event accessibility has many benefits.

By accommodating everybody, including those with invisible disabilities, you make your events more comfortable, increase your reach, and create a premium environment.

  • Planning
  • Event design
  • Technology

Event planners work magic behind the scenes. They pull everything together to create an exciting, welcoming environment.

Diversity and inclusion work best when they are a part of the planning process. ​

〰PLANNING〰

Make guest accommodations friendly to people with disabilities, including those with ‘hidden’ disabilities. Most U.S. hotels, motels, inns, etc. include accommodations that are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. In fact, all accommodations designed or constructed after January 26, 1993 are required to be ADA compliant.

Make it easy for your attendees from the start! Provide them with an accessibility statement and point of contact in event announcements and invitations. Include clear instructions on how to request accommodations. You’ll want to clarify deadlines for requests for special accommodations and avoid disappointment or avoid confusion. (Scroll to the end for two examples!)

Share details about lodging and transportation accessibility with out-of-town guests.

〰EVENT DESIGN〰

The best event designs unify and refine your event. You’ll want to make sure that acoustics, lighting, and climate all contribute to making your event as comfortable and inviting as possible–for everyone.

Prioritize details that contribute to guests’ ability to see, hear, and fully participate in your event. Thoughtful seating arrangements, unobtrusive decor, and easily available information all help create a supportive environment. Take it a step further and add personalized event entertainment to ensure that ALL of your guests are able to participate in your event. Strolling entertainers make accessibility a breeze for those with mobility impairments–the entertainment comes to you!

〰TECHNOLOGY〰

If you use visual or auxiliary elements (for example a slideshow or speaker), share a list of  additional services, assistive technology, or accommodations that you are able to provide.

Some examples:

●  American Sign Language interpreters

●  CART services (Real time closed-captioning is more accurate than computer generated captions)

●  Visual and auxiliary aids

●  Assistive communication devices

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Tips for Creating Successful Virtual Events

Keys and tips for producing successful virtual events are similar to those needed to produce successful live events. However, even the simplest virtual events require different skills than those used to produce traditional events. That being said, producing any kind of event is not for the faint of heart. At least one team member should have a fairly robust knowledge of technology, sound, lighting, and event production. Each team member should, at the very least, have a rudimentary working knowledge of the key elements needed for the virtual event. Make sure you have access to electricity and a stable internet connection.

  • Simplify every element of your event.
  • Streamline your processes in as many ways as possible.

The key for us was to focus on a detailed understanding of what we needed to be able to do, when we needed to do it, and how to execute it. Live event and virtual event production share fundamental requirements for success: We produced several small events during a power outage. Because we had done several large and medium-sized events beforehand, we knew the drill. After experiencing an internet outage that lasted more than five hours, we knew to create backup plans and to test them extensively. Luckily, the outage started hours before the event and we were able to reroute everything before going live. But when the power came back on and we switched back to our regular ISP, the password that had been previously issued to participants did not function and we had to quickly get new ones to them. Since we hadn’t practiced a power outage and the effects it would have on our system, we had to improvise. There are fun improvisations and there are those improvisations that are somewhat less fun. This was one of them. Despite the difficulties we encountered, we made the most out of these situations. Key participants and team members were able to access information quickly and immediately share it with participants. Be sure to deliver the stated mission of your event. What is the event’s goal? Is everyone clear about it? Even if your delivery is flawless, the most important goal should be to support the event’s overall mission. Keep that goal top of mind and work to deliver it. What is the use of a ‘perfect’ event if it falls short of meeting its mission? An example of this: a children’s charity fundraiser. Help your client by letting them know what will communicate their mission most effectively. Not everyone knows which elements work best for virtual events. Our job as event producers is to share information with our clients about which elements and tools will best serve them in achieving their particular goals. A labor saving piece of advice from one of our not-for-profit clients: use an automated bidding platform. They contend that they are worth the investment. They were able to share their auction items in advance, track bidding, accept payment, and capture transactions, inventory, and delivery without investing more staff or volunteer time. As a parting piece of advice: when deciding on project assignments, treat your volunteers’ time as sacred. Let them take on tasks they find fulfilling that support your organization’s mission. Most importantly: enjoy your event!

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with producing virtual events? What solutions did you find? Tell us!

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