This past week, Redstone had the opportunity to provide event management services to a wonderful charity that offers support services for children with severe cognitive and developmental challenges. ALEH Rehabilitation of Canada welcomed one of the most well-known, respected and forward-thinking leaders of our time, to Toronto. This high profile individual was just awarded the prestigious Templeton Prize for 2016. We encourage everyone to read more about this honour. Central to his message is the appreciation and respect of all faiths, and he joins other important leaders such as Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, and Desmond Tutu in receiving this honour.
As one can imagine, hosting an event with a high profile speaker, of the same calibre of the above mentioned individuals, is not like managing any other speaker. There are security considerations, time management considerations, and plans for providing access to the public that need to be considered in advance and addressed with the utmost attention to detail. We’ve compiled some of the strategies we learned and the recommendations we would share in welcoming a high profile speaker to your event:
Having a complete and thorough security procedure for the attendees, the venue, and the speaker is important for your planning as well as your budget. To start, it is important to notify the local authorities of the speaker’s visit to your city so extra surveillance can be done on their end, leading up to your event, to protect the speaker and your attendees. We would also recommend a system for checking bags and purses as people arrive onsite, as well as having a significant security and police presence in the vicinity of the venue to ensure it is known that the site is well-secured. It is important to remember that with extra security and protection you will likely have to add extra resources to your budget to account for this.
The higher the profile of your speaker, the higher the likelihood that the speaker has not visited your city in recent years, as the demand is higher for them across the world. What does this mean for your event? It means that there cannot be a ‘bad’ seat in the house and your audio visual planning must consider this. Invest in screens (the more the better), sound systems and lighting to ensure that everyone has a good visual of the speaker and can hear every word that is said. Consider recording the proceedings so the video and audio can be used in the future. Make sure to use an audio visual provider with experience that you trust and make sure you test all the equipment many times before you ‘go live’.
Access to Attendees or ‘Fans’
Along the lines of audio visual planning to ensure your attendees can see and hear everything the speaker does and says, it is important to consider that your attendees will likely want the opportunity to meet their ‘idol’ or snap a quick picture if the opportunity arises. If it is at all possible to provide your attendees with access, it is important to make sure it is done smoothly and safely. If your high profile speaker has a book, it may make sense to organize a book signing. If the event is benefiting a charity, or is being organized by an association or corporation, maybe creating a branded step and repeat banner with a photo opportunity is the best way to grant access. Ensure you allocate enough time for each attendee to see or speak with the speaker. If there are many attendees, make sure each encounter is brief to allow everyone an opportunity.
Crowd control is very important, so the more security and staff you have working at your event, the better. If you are unable to provide so many staff, or the budget for hired staff is low, perhaps there are individuals that would be willing to volunteer their time in exchange for a free ticket to hear the speaker or for an advanced opportunity to meet the high profile speaker before the other attendees have an opportunity.
If you’re planning an event in the future that includes welcoming a high profile speaker to your program, reach out to us at Redstone! We’d be happy to help facilitate and manage a smooth and safe event for you and your attendees.