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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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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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Group at formal corporate event

Thoughtful Seating

How We Can Put Thoughtful Seating in Events

Thoughtful seating is an important part of events. It is the awareness of where we are seated and why, and the social, political, and economic impact of where we are. Are you really at the table? Did you choose your table or were you seated at it? The same thing goes for your seatmates, the proximity or distance you have to each other, and where your table is located in the grand scheme of things. 

It Boils Down to Making Everybody Feel Welcomed

When you are beginning to plan your event, see how you can show guests how much you appreciate them by making them feel truly welcome. Events are where you can make inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility shine!

Putting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in your Events

Planners tend to set up a floor plan based on space and available furniture. That completely makes sense. Unless, of course, you have the means to base your design and seating arrangements on your guests’ needs, your priorities, and helping everyone feel included.

Informal events tend to be laissez-faire—more along the lines of musical chairs (think—who nabs the seat close to the dessert table?) Do good by doing it well–make sure that attendees are able to participate fully in the entire event.

Leveling the Playing Field for All Kinds of Diversity

Corporate events are intentionally more result-oriented. Who are the participants and what is the objective of the event: a meeting; presentation; awards ceremony; celebration;  conference, trade show, or break-out social time?

Social events can include a wide range of ages. Whether the guests are related (weddings, family reunions), a cohort (graduations, Bar- and Bat Mitzvahs), or loosely connected (birthdays, anniversaries, showers), there will be a scatter and a concentration. Maybe a large number of your guests work in the same field, or live in the same city or region, maybe they share a hobby, religion, or belong to a certain age group. Use this to your advantage when planning—chose to mix it up, or choose to set up groups of like-minded folks—just don’t make your seating arrangements based on alphabetization!

Accessibility is Frequently Overlooked at Events

One thing I repeatedly notice is how difficult it can be for people to hear each other at events—even on a good day and without a DJ or loud speaker next to them! You can absolutely take this into consideration when planning where to put people—those who want to talk (and hear) might be further away from the loudspeakers.

Consider the Needs of People with Disabilities

How many of your guests have mobility challenges or need frequent access to the restroom? Do you have anyone who has sensory or audio processing issues? How about very tall people, or the inverse, and what affect that can have on your sight lines? Accessibility plays a greater role than you realize. So many people have hidden disabilities that impact their participation and enjoyment of your event. Their decision on whether or not to attend might be dependent on whether accommodations are offered or if they have to request them.

Traditionally people are seated according to their position in business or in a family. Make sure that those people on the fringe can see and hear, too.

Create Meaningful Interactions

You might consider using more and smaller tables to increase interaction. A six-top is definitely more conducive to getting people to interact with each other than a 10-top or a banquet table. Although banquet tables can help people get to know their dinner partners, it can be a long, arduous evening if they can’t (or won’t) communicate!

Look at some of the ways you can facilitate meaningful, memorable, and creative interactions at your event. Enhance everyone’s enjoyment of the entire experience by creating thoughtful seating.

 

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How do Virtual Events and Virtual Sessions work?

How do Virtual Events and Virtual Sessions work? You choose the kind of readings you want, how long, and when. After you’ve booked and confirmed your particulars, we’ll send you your Zoom login credentials, and a ‘How-to’. Virtual Sessions are for 1-6 people; Virtual Events are for larger groups. Schedule your group together, in smaller groups, or with individual time slots.

Lip Print Analysis, Palm Reading, Handwriting Analysis, Tarot cards, coffee- or tea leaf readings bring events to life. Engage your guests, coworkers, employees, friends, and family and tell them about the most interesting thing in the world–themselves!

You must be 18 years of age or have a parent, legal guardian, or chaperone present during your Virtual Session.

Set up your computer or laptop so you can see and be seen, hear and be heard. If you’re working with palms, lip prints, or coffee, make sure that they’re visible for us! Book your session, remit payment, and we’ll send you your Zoom credentials, along with detailed instructions and and voilá, you’re ready to go!

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