Planning in person events? Remember these tips:
It was around this time one year ago that many people were returning to in-person events. Vaccines were widely distributed, Delta and Omicron weren’t on anyone’s lips (at all) and there was a sense of “this is behind us, the world is opening up.” To say the disappointing roller-coaster of sickness and mask wearing (and reducing, and wearing again) has been a drag would be putting it mildly.
But guess what? Two plus years of disruption can’t un-do what evolution wove into our fiber over millennia. We’re mammals: social creatures. We will find a way to congregate. We will endure. We will persevere. And by golly we’ll get outside and have a good old time.
Planning in person events in 2022 is different than it was a year ago, and a lot different than it was 2+ years ago. You might find yourself surprised – as we have at times – at the myriad ways our societal social smarts have gotten rusty. That’s also putting it mildly. …With all this mildness, people who came here for scorching hot takes are going to be sorely disappointed.
In place of hot takes, here’s some battle-won tips for planning in-person events in the roaring 2020s:
- Feed them multiple times. When we’re doing a pre-event logistics call, we want to learn the timeline for the whole day, particularly when food is happening. One of our first in-person games, last year, ended well, but started badly: the client acknowledged afterward that it had been too long since they had eaten, and it’s hard to enjoy the hang when you’re hangry. Some bars and bottled water as a snack go a long way. Then there’s the risk that if dinner comes right after our team building game, we need to make sure to bring it down on time because you don’t want to stand in between the people and their rosemary chicken. There’s no winning! It’s fine.
- Things will start late and run long. Beware of transitions! If your group is going from or to any place at all, or even rolling from one part of the agenda to another, those bio breaks, spontaneous chats, leg stretches… it adds up! Include “passing period” time into your agenda, and be realistic with your vendor about what time you may actually be starting different parts of the program. And have a plan in place if the game is going late, preferably a plan that doesn’t involve letting the rosemary chicken get cold.
- Caution & courtesy. As of this writing, people with children under five are still living with the unvaccinated, whether they want to or not. Many people have immunocompromised family members. We’re all sick of COVID and want it to be over, and you can wish on your birthday candles and lucky pennies, but that’s not a substitute for a plan to address safety concerns. It’s the kind thing to do. And it’s the responsible thing to do. Set expectations regarding courtesy for someone whose ideas about masks are different from yours. Clear boundaries are better than a free-for-all.
- Clothing & parking. These are things we never had to think about when all we did was Zoom from home. If they’re going to be on the beach, or if they’re going to be moving – such as playing a team building game – tell them. People want to know so they can dress appropriately. Do you have a plan for parking cars? Splitting a rideshare? Make sure these IRL concerns are part of your pre-event checklist. Oh, and make a checklist. Put “rosemary chicken” on it.
- Include something fun, like a game. If you’re packing all the presentations and commendations from two years into your meetings, that could be a lot of sitting at attention for your attendees. Are you planning something fun? Something they haven’t seen before, that’s suitable for all bodies, that can be played outdoors, that’s completely interactive? Oh you are? That’s funny, so are we: every week, all over California and beyond. If you want to learn more, talk to us.
The rustiness is real, but let’s push through and get to the thrill of gathering we’ve missed too much of. Addressing all the challenges really is worth it.