Those of us who have hosted events of any kind know that things may not always go exactly as planned during the actual event. The best way to be ready for any unplanned changes is to have a strong event communication plan in place, both internally and externally (guest-facing).
While we’ve written about event communication and promotion strategies as well as post-event communication, one always-crucial topic will be your communication plan during the day or night of your event…AKA as your on-site event communication plan.
In this post, we’ll provide you with eight tips for improving your event communication plan on-site, both internally (with your staff, volunteers, etc.) and externally (with your guests). Enjoy!
Internal Event Communication – Staff, Volunteers, Vendors, Committee
1. Have a Primary Channel of Communication
Once your event kicks off, your staff, volunteers, and committee will be scattered throughout the venue, helping guests, promoting your cause, or just making sure the event is running smoothly. Having a primary channel for communication will be key to ensuring each member is receiving real-time updates about announcements or changes to the event.
At our annual event, we prefer text messaging as our primary event communication channel as we know all committee members will have their phones with them throughout the night of the event.
If this is not the case for your event, you may want to consider a different communication strategy. These channels could include anything from in-person meetups, walkie-talkies, email, or in-app messaging (Slack, for example). The point here is to find the communication channel that works best for the largest number of people on your team.
2. Optimize Check-In / Create a Check-in Rotation Strategy
Having a smooth event check-in is one of the most vital parts of a successful event. As part of your communication strategy, we recommend optimizing your check-in process ahead of time. This means assigning check-in duties to different staff members or volunteers.
For our event, we create a rotation of groups that will manage the door for 30-minute time slots. During check-in, we make sure that one of our event hosts is always in contact with the team managing the door. This includes not only the check-in staff but also security staff as well.
3. Establish a Meeting Time and Location Before Your Event Starts
Does your event typically include a time for your event hosts or volunteers to speak in front of your audience? If so, we highly recommend communicating a meeting time and location to your team before the event starts. It’s crucial that all members who will be on stage or in front of your audience know when and where to meet. Otherwise, you may be left making an embarrassing announcement across your event’s sound system requesting a missing team member to come to the stage.
For our annual event, we confirm the meeting time and place before our event starts, telling all committee members to meet by our event stage at least 15 minutes before we go on stage. During the event, we send one or two text message reminders so that everyone is sure when and where they should meet.
4. Have a Main Point of Contact with Your Vendors / Staff
Another helpful tip that we’ve learned from running events each year is to have a main point of contact from your event committee for your vendors and staff. Letting your vendors and staff know who they should find / contact should they have any questions during your event will give both you and your staff peace of mind, and it will also help streamline communication.
For our event, we typically have two main contacts for all staff and vendors, in case they should have an issue finding our first point of contact. As part of this plan, we provide our cell phone numbers to all key staff members and vendors.
External Event Communication – Guests
Having an external event communication plan will help you keep guests updated throughout your event, and can even help turn your event attendees into longtime donors. Some of our favorite tips on external communication plans include:
1. Begin Communication Immediately!
When it comes to communicating with your guests once your event begins, we recommend starting immediately. Communication at the beginning of your event can take many forms. It may include your staff and volunteers greeting guests at check-in, or it could take a more tech-savvy angle. For example, at our annual fundraiser, we send an automatic push notification to our guests’ phones the second they check in to the event. This message welcomes our guests and provides them with a link through which they can donate.
Additional communication may be in the form of the signage at your event (either physical or digital).
For corporate events, we would suggest including welcome bags, badges, and even schedules for the day’s agenda.
2. Send Email Updates
While push notifications are great and have a high read rate, we find that most people also love having communications land directly in their email inbox. Throughout your event, you may have different general announcements – feel free to send these out via email to your guests. Furthermore, personalized emails are a great way to leave your guests with something to remind them of your event even after it has ended. For example, the Accelevents platform will send personalized receipts and thank-you emails to each guest that participates in an event.
Different emails you may send throughout the event may include:
- Special access or pre-event cocktail hour for VIPs
- An additional call-to-action for your supporters to donate
- Last-second updates to your agenda / schedule
- Announcement of a post-event gathering or get-together
3. Use Social Media
If you’re a fan of our 22 Ways to Promote Your Event, then you know that we are huge fans of using social media as a communication and promotion tool leading up to your event.
What you may not know is that we also love using social media to update our guests in real time during our events. Before your event, we recommend creating a social media presence for your event or organization across the major channels (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn). As you sell tickets and promote events, your social following will grow, and your profiles will become a go-to source for your guests to learn about new information leading up to your event.
During your event, your team can also provide live updates to your guests via social media. These include anything from fun photos at the event to announcements about upcoming speakers or fundraising goals met.
We also highly recommend sharing your handles and event hashtag to your guests via email (and social media) before your event. Sharing ahead of time will allow your guests to follow your channels and tag your event in any of the content they create during your event, building your social presence.
4. Make an Announcement
While we love using technology to increase your event’s effectiveness, sometimes nothing can beat a good old-fashioned announcement.
Whether you are running a fundraising event and use your announcement to drive more donations, or you are running a for-profit event and use announcements to keep your audience engaged, in-person announcements are a great way to keep everyone on the same page!
We hope you find our communication tips helpful. Whether you choose to use all of them or just select a few, we’re sure that these will provide a great starting point to make communication easier and more streamlined at your next event.