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How long does it take to plan a gala dinner?

The perfect gala dinner requires a lot of planning and preparation to ensure that each element comes together seamlessly on the night. From building your guest list and setting your budget to choosing the right sponsors and fundraising activities, you’ll want everything to align to make sure the night goes to plan and that it’s everything you had visualised at the beginning of the planning process.

It can take several months and even upwards of a year to plan a gala dinner. The best way to keep the planning process on track is to put in place an event plan and timeline. Each gala dinner is different, but here is a general timeline of tasks that can help to keep the event planning process on track.

8-12 months before the event

Establish the what and why of your gala dinner and complete the groundwork.

  • Define the event’s purpose
  • Set your budget
  • Identify your fundraising methods e.g. ticketing, silent auction, raffle
  • Select a date and choose a venue
  • Look for sponsors or partners for the night
  • Plan activities, select speakers and book entertainment
  • Choose a theme

3-6 months before the event

Get the wheels in motion and spread the word.

  • Arrange your audiovisual plan and equipment for the night
  • Promote the event, for example via social media, radio or newspapers
  • Confirm speaker arrangements and finalise your entertainment
  • Check for any special venue provisions e.g. wheelchair access, parking arrangements and transport information
  • Start building an attendee list
  • Organise fundraising activities for the night
  • Book catering
  • Send invitations

2-3 months before the event

Establish on-the-night requirements, ramp up event promotion.

  • Organise decorations and table settings
  • Select food
  • Continue to promote the event, for example release special announcements to the press for media coverage
  • Arrange seat planning

1 week before the event

Finalise everything.

  • Finalise guest list and send an event reminder
  • Brief the team for duties on the night
  • Finalise seating plan and create place cards
  • Finalise guest numbers and send to caterers and partners.

1 day before the event

Get ready.

  • Conduct an audiovisual test
  • Make sure auction items, prizes or gifts are on site
  • Make sure everything is prepared for the night
  • Finalise run sheet

The day of the event

Manage the night and enjoy your hard work!

  • Decorate event space and tables
  • Hand out seating charts, the guest list and run sheet to your team
  • Make sure guests arrive
  • Keep the event running to time and deal with any issues as/if they arise
  • Enjoy the night!

After the event

Thank your guests and share the night with the world.

  • Send thank you cards to your guests
  • Finalise fundraiser and make sure participants received gifts or prizes
  • Share event photos
  • Develop an event evaluation outlining your successes and what you can improve on next time

Need to get your AV or staging prepared for your next gala event? We can help. Contact us today.

The benefits of live streaming your event

Live streaming has become a bit of a craze lately. If Facebook Live, Youtube live stream and Twitter live video are anything to go by, people seem to love experiencing things online in real time. The capability of live streaming has become hugely popular in recent years, especially for events that attract global attention. Live streaming offers people the opportunity to experience events, even if they can’t be there in person.

Perhaps you’ve considered live streaming your event, but you’re not entirely sure if it’s the right thing to do. Maybe you’ve thought, “Well, it could be great exposure, but then again who will purchase a ticket if it’s going to be live streamed for free?” This is a very sensible question to ask. Although there are many benefits to live streaming events, it’s important to consider whether it is right for your event. Some events thrive on exclusivity. Keeping an event exclusive might help with setting ticket prices, selling tickets, or attracting thought leaders. These events might benefit from being kept intimate instead of being live streamed. But for many events, especially ones that have an objective of broadcasting information or selling a certain product or service, live streaming can be greatly beneficial. Here’s why.

Maximise your exposure

Live streaming, especially via social media can help build exposure for your event. Your event can be live streamed to your social media audience, but it can also reach a larger audience if the content is shared and interacted with online. Live videos tend to attract more online engagement compared with other types of content. They incite a sense of urgency, compelling people to watch. When you share your live stream to social media, you also have the option of running ads in order to reach an even wider audience.

Use data to improve your events

When you live stream your event, it gives you the opportunity to learn more about your audience through online data. Bringing your event online can help you gather important information about who your audience is and what they like (or dislike) about your event. Whether you’re live streaming on your website or social platforms, you have access to data on who is engaging with your content. This information can help you make improvements on your event next time around.

Provide a channel of communication for your audience

If you’re broadcasting your event on social media, your live stream will give your event goers and online audience a platform to interact with you while the event is running. It gives them the opportunity to ask important questions about keynote speakers, products being launched or whether there are follow up events.

When you’re live streaming a corporate event, it’s important to get it right. The last thing you want is a major disruption or delay in the audio or video. When you do it yourself there are many risks involved that can disrupt the smooth running of your event. Make sure to hire a professional audiovisual team to do all the hard work so that you don’t have to. At AVPartners we have the right technology and expertise  to broadcast your event so that you can rest assured that it’s done the right way.

Talk to us today to discuss how to live stream your next event.

Holding an AGM soon? Use these tips to help you plan.

An Annual General Meeting, or AGM, is an event held once a year by an organisation looking to give stakeholders, the general public and members a transparent overview of the organisation’s direction and financial outlook. Members and guests can expect to hear reports from the organisation’s committee regarding the achievements from the past year. It’s also the time that a vote is held and a new committee is elected for the year ahead.

AGMs are important events that need to be planned and executed properly to ensure members and guests walk away with a positive attitude about the organisation and its goals.

To help plan your upcoming AGM, consider the following:

The venue

Have a look at what venues you think might be suitable, then arrange site visits so you can determine if a venue meets all of your requirements. Will you need a board room, a large meeting room or a function room? Will you be offering refreshments during or after the meeting? Will there be a time for mingling or networking before or after the AGM, and if so, will that take place in the same room as the meeting itself?

You should also consider the accessibility of the venue in terms of public transport access and parking, through to wheelchair access and other amenities. Once you’ve chosen a venue, set a date and time, and book the meeting or function room, ensuring it’s big enough to accommodate a minimum number of people.

The notice of meeting

With as much notice as is possible and appropriate, produce a notice of AGM for members which provides details about the meeting, including the date, time, venue and information about the election.

The financial reports

Your organisation’s financial reports will need to be produced prior to the AGM. In some cases these reports need to be examined by an independent person or by your own treasurer.

The agenda

Ensure your AGM agenda is sufficiently prepared, and pre-determine whether you want to just go over the essentials, or make it a more compelling event with extra activities so you attract more members and guests on the day.

The election

It’s best to determine your voting system ahead of time so that the process can be seamless at the AGM.

You could simply have a ‘show of hands’, offer private ballots, or even arrange for a neutral third party to count the votes.

The audiovisual technology

Ensure that the venue you hire can handle your audiovisual requirements. They may even have an in-house AV provider, such as AVPartners! There are so many options when it comes to audiovisual technology at your AGM. You may require projectors to display graphs, charts and statistics for all to see, or you may look at webcasting or video streaming the event so that people can still be involved even if they aren’t physically there.

Our AVPartners teams are experts at supporting AGMs of all varieties. From staging to lighting and audiovisual support, we’ve got you covered for your next AGM. Contact us to start your AGM planning.

How to decide on the theme of your event

When planning an event, one of the first things you need to decide on is the event theme. A theme is the overarching idea or concept behind your event, that not only gives the event structure, but can inspire guests and reinforce your event message and key takeaways.

Stuck for theme ideas? Some event themes we have coordinated include: a wild west theme, roaring 20s, the 80s, the 90s, pop star, masquerade, acrobatic and circus theme, Spanish, French, chocolate fantasy, black and gold, global cuisine, the Olympics, and a jungle theme.

Whatever event theme you choose – make sure you fully commit! This means being consistent with the theme throughout all event touch points, such as the invitations, programs, marketing, decor, dress code, food, entertainment, and music.

While you don’t have to have a theme at your event, we find it aids in creating a seamless event experience for both planners and guests. Also, once it’s decided on, it helps to steer all of your planning decisions. But never fear, an event theme can be as detailed or bare as you like; sometimes simply utilising a lighting colour combination to evoke the right emotion is enough to make your mark on guests.

Here are our tips when it comes to deciding on your event theme:

Know your event objective

Make sure you’re clear on why you’re holding this event, and why people will attend. What message do you want to impart on your guests? What will be the key ‘takeaway’ from your event, will they learn something, support something, be rewarded for something or simply have a great time?

A clear event outcome and intention is crucial for an effective theme to be developed.

Know the nature of your event

A gala dinner aimed at fundraising will require a different theme to a Christmas party. The nature of your event and how it fits in with your business or brand will help determine the direction to go in with your theme. That’s not to say you can’t have fun with your theme if it’s a formal event! Just that you need to be aware of it and tweak ideas where necessary.

Know your audience

It sounds obvious, but just like determining the nature of your event, you need to figure out who will be in attendance and what they might want or expect from this event, and plan accordingly. If it’s an event where children will be in attendance then you can steer clear of the more risqué themes, or if the event is attempting to showcase your professionalism to potential clients you can cancel the clowns. It’s all about what is appropriate to your audience, while still being on point for your event message.

Know your venue

If you can align your theme with your venue, your event will have that extra special aspect of being seamless. You can do this by either having a theme in mind and choosing a venue which can accommodate it, or you can choose your venue and then your theme to suit it.

Know your audiovisual provider

Many venues, such as the ones AVPartners is partnered with, can offer you the expertise of in-house audiovisual (AV) technicians to bring your theme to life. Hiring an in-house AV team can be a great benefit, as in-house teams know their venues well, can offer you a wealth of knowledge and experience, and tailor audio, lighting and vision options to suit your event and theme.

Know your event colours

Whether you incorporate colour into your overall theme or the colour IS your theme, you’ll want to ensure that you’re choosing the right colours for your event objective, feel and message. To find out more about colours, read our post on how colours can create atmosphere at your event.

Contact us today to discuss your event theme ideas further!

What to do when things don’t go as planned at your event

Planning an event can be really fun and exciting, but it’s not without its challenges.

Giving guests an experience to remember, something that will leave a positive and lasting impression, is a great outcome to aim for. However, you need to plan accordingly in case things don’t quite go as you had envisioned on the day.

The best way to do this is to prepare your contingency plan well ahead of time. A general rule of event planning is that it’s a good idea to checklist everything and double check items at different intervals leading up to your event. Give agendas and timelines out to everyone that could benefit from it. On the day of the event, arrive early. This will give you extra time should something happen and need immediate attention. Remember, there’s no such thing as being over prepared when it comes to event planning!

Even with all your forward planning, things might still pop up that you weren’t expecting, or that you can’t really control. Here are some of the common mishaps we see at events and how to address them:

Schedule overlap

Giving your event’s schedule some wiggle room will do wonders for the little overlaps that tend to occur. Leaving a little room before and after scheduled items will mean that if something needs to push a little, it won’t make the entire event run late.

Weather issues

It is important to have a contingency plan for the weather as it can be really unpredictable. Depending on your event type, this could be as simple as organising umbrellas for some light rain, or it could mean moving your entire event indoors, away from bad weather.

Vendor issues

You may have a vendor cancel unexpectedly, or they may have resourcing issues. While this is a bit out of your control, what you can do is make sure you are in direct contact with them regularly in the lead up to, and during, the event. Arrive early on the day and ensure they have everything they need for their work to run smoothly. Also, have a list of backup vendors ready in case the unexpected happens.

Technical problems

Technical problems can happen at the most inconvenient times, such as when someone is about to speak on stage. Always make sure you are using a professional and reputable AV provider. This will minimise the chance of technical problems and ensure you can address any issues that do arise. Make sure your AV technicians offer onsite support throughout your event, and that they have their own contingency plans in place too. This way, you will always feel secure knowing the show can go on.

Medical emergencies

Medical emergencies require fast reaction times and leadership. At a minimum you need to be aware of where the emergency exits, medical emergency kits, and fire extinguishers are located in your chosen venue ahead of your event. It’s also not uncommon to have or request that a venue representative conduct a safety and housekeeping speech at the start of the presentation, informing guests of what the fire alarm alerts sound like and where the muster points locations are located.

When (or hopefully, if) unexpected things happen at your event, try to remain calm but react as quickly and effectively as possible. Guests will remember how well the issue was handled, or may not even realise there was a problem in the first place.

We’re always prepared for the unexpected here at AVPartners. Contact us today to work together on your next event.

Why the value of face-to-face meetings shouldn’t be ignored

Now more than ever before, businesses are relying on the use of long distance communication to run their operations. With remote and virtual workers on the rise, technology is making it easier to stay connected with your colleagues or clients in different offices, states or countries. But does this mean that face-to-face meetings and events are on the decline? Not in the slightest!

Four in five people surveyed by Meetings Mean Business believe they have attended an in-person meeting, conference or event that would have been less successful if conducted remotely. As Meetings Mean Business like to say, “great things happen when people come together!”

The benefits of face-to-face meetings include:

Relationships and Engagement

Being face-to-face is one of the most effective forms of communicating and building relationships. It affords you the opportunity to nurture your relationships and engage those around you in a way that simply can’t be emulated online. Face-to-face meetings are where relationships are built upon, deals are struck, and brainstorming is at it finest.

Connection and Trust

While certainly worthwhile, digital communication doesn’t always allow you to build as solid a level of trust between people. In person, you can physically shake the hand of the person you’re connecting with, you might share a laugh and even go to get a coffee together. All of these things build up strong, personal communication which is at the centre of all positive outcomes.

Clarity and Efficiency

Sometimes what we say can get a little lost in translation across online or digital communication methods. People may misinterpret a tone, meaning or message, and go forth with a completely wrong idea. Face-to-face meetings diffuse many misunderstandings straight away, therefore rendering them a more efficient way to get your point across.

Ultimately, the key to getting the most out of your events is to consider all avenues. With so many options available to us, we can choose the best way for us to communicate and build lasting relationships with our colleagues, clients or stakeholders. This may mean holding your event in-person, online or a hybrid of both. Contact us today to discuss your next meeting or event.

How to hold an engaging panel discussion at your next event

A panel discussion is a great way to bring together influential speakers at an event to offer their advice, stories, and expertise to the event attendees. The audience is given a chance to ask thought-provoking questions and get different perspectives in real time. Panel discussions are a great inclusion to many events, however they do require a bit of planning to ensure success.

Here’s what you need to know to hold an engaging panel discussion at your next event:

Mix up your panelists

To ensure you have adequate diversity in your panel, make sure to include people with various opinions, backgrounds, industries, specialisations, ages, and experiences. This will mean your audience can benefit from a range of knowledge, and it also means your panelists won’t be competing with one another.

Choose an engaging moderator

A moderator is an important part of a panel discussion. They will introduce each speaker, ask questions and direct attention to certain people or topics. The moderator keeps the discussion on track and flowing, so it’s best to choose wisely. Ideally you want someone who can get the most out of the panelists while having a little fun with the audience.

Get prepared

It’s a good idea to prepare early and choose panel questions well ahead of schedule, giving each panelist time to prepare their answers. Make sure the moderator and panelists have input, this will make them feel valued during the process.

Set the stage

Generally speaking, panel discussions are on a stage with panelists seated on a lounge or chairs facing the audience. It’s best practice to not have them sit behind a desk as it can cut off the open flow of communication. It’s a good idea to check with your AV provider about what AV is required, such as spotlight lighting, fixed desktop microphones, lapel microphones or a shared wireless microphone that can be passed along to each speaker. At AVPartners we have an exciting ‘Question & Answer’ product called Catchbox. It’s the world’s first ‘soft throwable microphone’, allowing easy and fun audience participation, discussion and most importantly, encouraging engagement.

Using a reputable AV provider will ensure the panelists are successfully seen and heard, and that their messages are conveyed effectively to the audience.

Contact us today to start planning your panel discussion!

How to hold an experiential event

All events need an element of interaction to really give them a wow factor. An experiential event is one that offers guests a unique experience that leaves a lasting impression.

This could mean anything from 3D elements to product demonstrations, from physical activities to virtual reality experiences. Instead of just pushing a message out to your audience, an experiential event provides an immersive and interactive experience, enabling people to engage with your brand in person.

Here are our top ideas for planning your next experiential event:

Explore creativity

People come alive when given the opportunity to be creative. It reminds them of a more carefree time. Try something outside of the everyday – such as having a chalk graffiti wall they can draw on, or a photo booth where they can be silly then take home a souvenir.

Get people learning

Giving people an opportunity to learn something new makes a big impact. For example, you could try a cooking demonstration, an origami lesson, or a dance class! Have fun with it and people will be talking about it for months.

Get up close

If your event includes entertainers or dancers, allow them to go outside of the norm and showcase their talent in unconventional areas, such as among the guest’s tables or on the bar. If it’s different, it’s interesting.

Incorporate AV technology

AV technology can create spectacular experiences which resonate with guests. From virtual reality, to creating an immersive look and feel through lighting, AV can make a big difference.

Talk to us about how you can incorporate digital elements, lighting and sound at your event to create a 360 experience.

How to effectively communicate your event message

Events can help make your business stand out against competitors. When holding an event, it’s important to ensure that the message you want your guests to walk away with is presented loud and clear. This message could be about increasing brand awareness, letting guests know about your cause for fundraising, or communicating excitement for upcoming product releases and launches.

We’ve put together a few tips on how you can effectively communicate your event message:

Styling and decor

Visual components like decorations and colours are a very valuable part of any event, so it’s important that these make sense for the type of event and guests attending. You might decide to use branded decorations, themed colours, or modern decor to help convey your event message.

Marketing touch points

Every channel or technique you use to communicate your event provides a marketing touch point for your message. Make sure that every touch point is cohesive and consistent. You want the event message to be registering in a guest’s mind from their first interaction with your event, whether that be online, through an invitation, or when entering the room.

Audiovisual components

The production elements at your event can make a huge impact on the way your event message gets seen, heard and absorbed. Great audio can help build emotion and engagement, and effective lighting will set a mood and create a sense of enjoyment and fulfillment.

Remember that all event elements, when brought together, combine to create an atmosphere and experience which helps communicate your message. If you’d like to discuss this further, talk to us today.

How can social media play a part in your event?

When social media is incorporated into an event, it can be hugely impactful and influential, generating immeasurable event awareness before, during and well beyond the event.

There are a number of different ways to incorporate social media into your event; we’ve put some of our favourites together to help you get the most out of this technology:

Use social media to promote your event

Using social media to promote an event builds a buzz before the event, attracts attendees to your event and increases the level of engagement at the event. But promotion shouldn’t stop once the event has passed; social media can also be used to extend relationships with customers afterwards.

Popular platforms for brands promoting events and building communities include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and many more.

Use smartphones and social media to help with event planning

When planning an event, smartphones and social media can be used in several ways to ease some aspects of the planning process. Event planning apps can keep you on track and there are also several apps you can use to coordinate ticket sales.

Have a social media wall at your event

Another good idea to incorporate social media into your event is to have a social media wall, harnessing the power of social networks such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. This gives all attendees the opportunity to participate and be part of the conversation and fun.

Encourage audience involvement during the event

By giving your audience ways to participate and interact such as through social media, it can help keep their focus and attention on the presentation. More and more events are incorporating interactive tools such as event apps, real time polling, surveys and messaging so presenters, sponsors and event organisers can open up the dialogue, share information, and receive and answer questions instantly.

What are your favourite ways to use social media at events? Let us know!