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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.

How poor sound quality can affect your event

What is an event without sound?

Whether it’s in the form of music, speeches, presentations or more, sound is a crucial part to any event. It’s what informs, educates, and entertains your guests; evoking emotion, cause and action. Without it, you would struggle to get your event message across clearly to your guests.

Microphone mishaps, audio delays, or broken sound are just a few of the sound issues that can occur, and have the ability to make or break your event.

So, how can poor sound quality affect your event?

Your guests

Your guests come to your event expecting to be impressed, so it’s a real let down when things like audio fail to meet their expectations. Poor audio can leave them feeling underwhelmed, and can also give them a negative impression of your business, brand, or event purpose.

Your business or brand

With poor audio, your event message may not have had the desired effect or cut-through with your guests, which can make the whole event feel like a waste of time and resources. It can make you appear under prepared and unprofessional which means that guests will be hesitant to do business with you in future.  

Your team

When people work with you at events – be that employees, volunteers, suppliers, sponsors or vendors – they are putting their faith in you and expect a good outcome. When that doesn’t happen, it can actually make them look bad and hurt their reputation, even if they had nothing to do with the issue.

Your future events

If people weren’t impressed at your last event, it’s unlikely they’ll return to the next one. They may even spread the word about how unimpressed they were which means other people may not attend who weren’t even directly affected by the last event!  

Bottom line is – the result of poor sound quality at your event can have lasting effects.

So, how can you ensure that the sound at your next event is without fault?

Hire a professional audiovisual (AV) team

Without the right expertise, things can and do go wrong. A knowledgeable and experienced AV technician knows how to get the balance right to ensure sound is clear, consistent and at the right volume. They’re also on hand to organise, manage, and control it throughout the entire event.

A great AV technician will make adjustments on their sound board to smooth out variations and distribute a more consistent level of sound from speaker to speaker, or song to song, as your event progresses. They can also tune the sound to combat any complications in the acoustics of the event space and amplify the output signal from the speaker to the loudspeakers at the right volume for your audience.

Hiring an in-house AV team, such as AVPartners, can be a fantastic option as in-house teams know their venues well, can offer you a wealth of knowledge and experience, and can tailor audio options to suit your event.

Contact us today to discuss the sound at your next event.

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.

6 things to consider before you plan your next conference

As businesses and brands strive to cut through the noise of the digital age to reach their ideal customer or client, it’s more important than ever before to offer a unique conference experience that engages customers or clients, and leaves them with a positive and lasting impression.

So, before you begin planning your next conference, consider the following: 

The vision and theme

Your vision should incorporate the ‘why’ behind your event. Why are you holding a conference, what is its purpose and why is it worthwhile for people to attend? Your theme should be a unifying factor, it can be as broad or narrow as you like, but will help guests understand and be aligned with your event’s purpose.

The target audience

Who are you trying to target? Think about your overall event outcome and what you would like to achieve from the event. Are you inviting or attracting the right people to help you reach that event goal?

The venue

Choosing the right venue for your conference is crucial to its overall success. Once you know how many guests you intend to attract, you will have an idea of the type of venue you’ll need. Your venue should also be able to assist you with catering and accessibility options. Be sure to also consider the style of the event, and make sure that the venue reflects this along with the guests’ expectations.

The speakers

Speakers at a conference offer an ideal way for relevant and influential people to share their advice, stories, and expertise to the event attendees. Plan to book these people in early, as they can be a major drawcard to attracting people to your conference.

The audiovisual technology

Choosing the right AV and event staging provider is critical to ensuring your event is a success. Not only do they take the stress out of event planning, they bring exceptional expertise and creativity to make sure your event stands out. Whether you want to use lighting elements to create atmosphere in the room, or require a stage to be set up with microphones and speakers, a good AV team will have you covered. Your ideal venue should have a preferred or in-house AV and event staging provider, such as AVPartners.

The photography

Good event photography is something that lives on well past the event. The photos give attendees an opportunity to reflect on the event once it’s done and show others what they missed out on. They can also be used to advertise the next event, or to liven up your social media channels.

With all this in mind, you’ll be well on your way to planning an engaging and successful conference. Contact us today to see how we can make your conference a success.

AVPartners event planning wrap up

We love sharing our tips and ideas when it comes to event planning, and we realised we have a lot of great blog posts that can help.

Take a look at some of our favourite topics that will help you plan your next event:

Choosing a venue

One of the most important aspects when planning an event is where the event will be held. The venue for an event can mean the difference between a successful event, and a mediocre one. Luckily, we have some experience working with awesome venues! Here are our tips for choosing the right venue for your event.

Event styling

Styling an event can be the most exciting part of event planning! This is where you get to choose the look and feel of your event. It’s an important part of the event planning process as it lays the foundation for how guests will experience the event.

Event styling incorporates furniture, decor, colour, centrepieces and table layouts, props, audiovisual and digital elements. It takes your guests on a journey, showcasing your theme, your branding and your ideas.

Budgeting

To effectively plan an event within your budget, consider the benefits of technology. Technology has an important role to play in event planning, and can be used in a variety of ways to help plan, organise, and execute an event while remaining within your event budget.

Social media

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; such as using social media to promote your event and having a social media wall at your event to drive engagement.

Catering

Food has a special place at all events; it brings people together in a fun and engaging way, and will give your guests a culinary experience to remember. Stuck on what type of catering is right for your event style and budget? Check out these popular catering types.

The event message

There’s no point holding an event that gives out the wrong or unintended message to guests. Make sure you can effectively communicate your event message loud and clear.

Interested in finding out more about any of these topics or want to get started planning your next event with us? Contact us today!

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 promote your event

Promoting your event is one of the most important factors for success. Without getting the promotion of your event right, even the most interesting and well planned events won’t be successful. Promotion is what sells tickets, increases brand and event awareness, and builds excitement.

Ultimately, you want to attract people to your event, and the best way to do so is to spread the word far and wide. These days, technology can play a big part in that, and is an extremely useful marketing tool for event planners.

As with any marketing activity, you’ll want to make sure you have given yourself enough time prior to the event to promote and advertise it. Depending on your event type, you might even start a year in advance!

To help, we’ve put together some ways to promote your event:

Social media

Social media is now a must for any event. There are many ways to promote your event by engaging with your audience and targeting your message to interested parties, through strategic paid and unpaid social media campaigns.  

Online and offline advertising

Online advertising is a great way to promote events as highly targeted ads can achieve a great return on investment. Offline advertising through certain magazines, newspapers, or even mail box leaflet drops is also a good option.

Media and publicity

A media campaign can be a great way to gain coverage for your event, driving further awareness. This approach can work well for trade shows, markets and festivals.

Local signage

Depending on the type of event and location, you may find that signs and banners, even digital signage, placed locally around the event area will spark some interest.

Website

It’s also a great idea to have a designated section of your website for your events or give the event its own website. This will assist anyone looking for more information and will also improve your SEO so people can find you through Google.

The venue

When you’ve chosen and booked the venue for the event, they may be able to start promoting your event on their website and social media channels too, along with promotions within their venue such as posters or flyers. Make sure you cover all bases when researching venues, such as catering options, venue size, and audiovisual capabilities.

At AVPartners we take great pride in hosting events of all types and sizes; using lighting, audio, and visual technology to take events to the next level! Contact us today to chat about your next event.

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!