Convention Lessons

A friend of mine attended Otakon, one of, if not the, largest anime conventions in the US this past weekend.   I couldn’t resist asking him about how the conference went, and what went wrong!  Given that we’re talking about a crowd of 26,000 plus, it’s pretty safe to assume there would be challenges and mistakes.  Regardless of the size of your event, you can learn something from 3 major fails that occurred this weekend.

Be on time: Start your event on time.  Especially if you’re running an event with different speakers or presenters in different rooms at different times, timing is crucial.  Not only do you have the presenters to be sensitive to, but you also have your attendees to consider (who may have packed their schedule to see as many speakers as possible).

Sound checks: Don’t embarrass your presenters, or look unofficial.  Do sound checks before any attendees are in the room.  If you’re on schedule (on time!) you will be prepared to do sound checks at least 10 minutes before the scheduled start time.  Doing sound checks and taking care of the other details that are important, but behind the scenes stuff, before your event is scheduled to begin makes you look professional and prepared, means you’ve got the time to fix any problems, and means that your event will run with less stress and pressure for you.

Fire Alarms: Ok, so it probably wasn’t a bright idea for someone to pull the fire alarm. But, it shares several good lessons.  One: have a good evacuation plan in case it was a real fire (or equally serious problem).  Have good signage for exits and arrows leading people outside.  Two: there may very well be unexpected, and unwelcome, distractions like fire alarms.  Prepare before hand for emergency situations and predictable problems.  That way you won’t be quite as stressed about it if it happens.

Overall, the verdict was that the convention was a success.  These problems ultimately amounted to minor distractions, but are good lessons for event planners of all sizes.  Want to make sure you’re prepared for your next event? Hire an event planner to make the event more enjoyable to you.


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