How to co-ordinate a big event
What makes an event outstanding depends on the goal you set upfront for the event. Ie: implement or impact!
A whole lot of decisions are impacted upon depending on that choice.
– Standard of excellence
– Levels of communication
– Involvement of teams
Our goal should be to create an event with a standard of excellence that truly represents God. Creativity, expressions of team, faith and faithfulness are all key words that lead to excellence.
Talk about different size churches having different financial constraints etc…
Practical co-ordination of a big event. (in chronological order)
Set the theme way in advance (creative)
Take into account in setting the theme, the goal of the event, the audience you are expecting and the message you want to communicate.
Assemble an administration team. (The key to admin is to be exceptionally organised but as much as possible invisible)
– Bad administration brings focus off of the actual event purpose and onto the administration or lack of it.
– Good administration creates a firm platform for the purpose of the event to ride off the back of and makes the purpose of the event become the main thing.
Establish what teams are necessary for the type of event you are holding
|Signage and Promotion
Lanyards and Badges
Car Guards and Parking
Looking after/Drinks for Preacher
Facility clean up
Appoint captains of teams:-
Run in their gifting
Capable of trouble shooting
Good delegators but leaders by example
Must be able to get people on board. (So why is it the captains responsibility to get guys? It becomes His/her team and much more ownership results)
Determine numbers of people required for each team of involvement.
Meet with captains and set individual task deadlines for each area of administration based on a workable timeline.
Set strategic meetings in advance with captains of teams to make sure all is on track and to envision them.
Insist on and set together with the captain at least two meetings where he envisions/trains the team if necessary.
Determine equipment needs within each team.
Each team thinks through requirements and puts together a budget request.
Set a date by which budgetary request must be submitted.
Determine budgetary income from sources such as:-
Registration fees (faith component needed to anticipate number attending as many budgetary decisions need to be made prior to knowing the number of delegates)
Sales of food etc
Aim to cover costs not to exploit the situation.
Adjust the budgetary requests if necessary to align with expected income and release guys to spend according to the budget agreed upon.
Have various teams submit signage requirements to the signage captain so that they can be printed well in advance.
Encourage guys to be creative thinkers. Money often squashes creativity!!!
Determine procedures and processes for each area of activity.
People flow is one of the most critical starting points in determining procedures as it governs how you handle other things such as: registrations, food, child care, access to the auditorium, signage and communication.
Rank areas of activity in line with the importance of the activity. This will help determine how sub-ranked activities procedures are handled. For eg. Knowing what procedure you are adopting for handling registrations at the event helps you determines, where signage goes, where child care check in points are, which access points are to be manned with welcomers etc. Another example would be that once the program of the event is set, procedures for things such as tea times, food times and venue setup for breakout sessions can be structured and included in the informative media component of your sessions or event brochure.
Another critical procedure to decide upon very early on is how pre-registering will take place. Various options will be: Web, Sundays involvement table, Church office etc.
Communication with delegates
As soon as pre-registrations open, start communicating with delegates and keep them informed as to how their registration has been handled.
Establish a comprehensive database of registrations in order to facilitate communication and aspects of registration such as badge printing and budget reconciliation.
Fields you will want to adequately handle your comms needs will be:-
First Name, Surname, Church, Cell Number, Alternate Number, Email Address, paid, Sms sent, Email Sent, Printed
If you do this a number of useful tools are available at a minimal to no cost to help achieve an excellent standard of communication with delegates with very little effort.
Some programs that feed off of a database such as an excel spreadsheet are programs like:-
Bulk sms tools such as sms portal. www.smsportal.com
Mail merge emails using word
Badge printing through merged database in word.
If using a mail merge program you are able to personalise each email/sms which also creates a sense of security in the delegates and speaks volumes with regard to intentionally caring for people.
Include useful information in your communications such as the program, speakers, even expected weather conditions can help people immensely especially if coming from other parts of SA and neighbouring countries. Send out a bi-weekly update.
Make sure you set a cut off date for pre-registration that gives you enough time to process the last registration name badges etc and have them available.
Where possible charge a conference fee rather than a session fee as it becomes a logistical nightmare to try and adequately handle session payments and session access.
At the event provide delegates with a booklet with useful information such as map of facility detailing toilets, child care facility, eating places and breakout session venues. Also restaurants in the city and places of interest are useful to visitors especially if the event is over a number of days.
Food and Refreshments
Food prepared in house is always cheaper than food brought in as you can choose to just cover costs.
If using outside suppliers for food, costs will be higher but this is often the way to go if you are on a tight budget as the providers cover the initial food cost. Make sure you do not contract a food supplier on an expected sales basis, as you will inevitably end up paying for wastage.
Make sure you setup enough food stations to accommodate the number of people within the time frames allocated for tea/lunch. Smaller time frames = more food/coffee stations.
Serve the same items at multiple stations so that you don’t end up with a long queue for a popular item at one and very few people at another.
Set up food ticket purchasing points, so that money is handled by a few people with accountability rather than at food counters where things are often hectic. People than take appropriate printed food tickets to food counters and exchange them for the item they purchased.
During the event
Have your welcomers meet people in parking lots, with umbrellas (if raining) and torches or just a friendly smile if during the day. Take it to the next level by offering snacks such as biltong and chocolates as people get out of their cars. First impressions count!!
Have a team of people milling around with some form of identification (maybe a T-Shirt that says: “GOTTA QUESTION” on it). Their job is to know everything about everything and help people with any questions that they may have.
Make sure that you clearly mark registration tables and again think people flow. Let people get their badges alphabetically by surname, the following letter brackets will evenly distribute people. A-E. F-J, K-O, P-T, U-Z. Also provide separate tables for “registration queries”, “New Registrations” (with money tins and receipt books), “Registered but not paid” table (with money tins and receipt books).
Restrict access to the venue on the basis of whether people are wearing their tags or not. This ensures that all delegates have paid and also that people know each others names. Position your most friendly yet persuasive welcomers at the access doors.
Enter new registration names into your database at a time convenient for you, even after the event. This enables you to have a comprehensive database from which to invite people via email, or sms for any future events that you may hold. It also helps you to reconcile your finances at the end of the day.
Ensure that you have made provision for backup power should there be a power failure.
Clearly communicate via your media at the first session any announcements that are important such as expectations regarding the wearing of badges, venues, times of sessions etc.
People notice attention to detail and that is what turns an ordinary event into an extraordinary event. Details such as:-
Snacks at registration tables
Printed name badges (with your creative theme background) as opposed to hand written badges.
Smiles and a sense of calmness even when things are busy.
Neat and well thought out signage. Laminated in case of rain if outside signage.
Presentation of food.
Atmospherics of building and décor. (Need not be expensive but must be intentional.)
Change table linen in sit down food areas and table centre pieces daily to create the feeling of newness and intentionality.
Dress welcoming teams in similar outfits, maybe black and white or a theme colour.
Clean venue and food areas thoroughly every day so that the venue looks new again for the next morning.
Set up a separate room for speakers/team to assemble prior to meetings to pray in and focus on meeting.
Ensure that speakers have water at all times.
Make sure you have medical care on hand in the event of an emergency.
Don’t assume that the people you have asked to host know how to host. Give hosting families guidelines as to what your expectations are and things to think about when hosting people. Remember the hosts are representing you and people will talk about how the CHURCH hosted them not how the INDIVIDUAL hosted them.
Hosting guidelines should include:-
Neatness and cleanliness in the home – especially clean linen and clean room for delegates.
Being aware of special food needs and allergies, especially pets.
Making sure that delegates have clean dry towels and access to tea/coffee facilities.
Politeness and courtesy, especially from children within hosting families.
Being aware of needs of delegate when it comes to personal space.
Possible problems to think ahead and plan for:-
Kind words and commendations
When event is over remember to thank all involved and show appreciation. These helpers could be the very ones you need to again rely on next year!