The Coronavirus has thrown event organizers through the ringer over the last few months. We faced trial by fire in scrambling to move our events to virtual platforms so that communities could gather safely amidst the stay-at-home orders. And as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to run its course, it’s critical that event organizers keep rethinking the way events are run. Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you start to think about planning an event post-pandemic.
Consistent and Transparent Communication
Consistent and transparent communication is key in planning any event but in the light of the pandemic, the need for thoughtful communication is paramount. People will need to know the facts in order to make an informed choice on whether or not to attend an event and how to best protect themselves.
Identify your audience for the event and think about what information they might want to know — specifically, your refund/cancellation policy if applicable, how you’re preparing the event space, what the health and safety rules are, whether the event will be recorded or live-streamed, and who to contact regarding questions and concerns.
Remind your audience you care about their health and safety. Always communicate with clarity and facts.
Make it Virtual
While in-person events have been on hold for the past few months, many event coordinators have been running events virtually via live-streams and video conferencing. When in-person events resume, consider providing a ‘virtual’ attendance option for individuals who would prefer to stay home. It’s important to provide ways for everyone in your community to participate and be included. Plus, you’ll get to keep developing your budding live-stream and Zoom skills!
Here are a few tips for running virtual events:
- Create a guide with directions to assist virtual attendees in accessing the event and helpful tips in the case of technical issues.
- Plan, prepare, and test your equipment to make sure everything runs smoothly.
- Record the event so that it can be shared later.
- Set clear rules on how attendees should interact online; let them know when it’s appropriate to speak, how to use the chat spaces, and if they should be muted.
Health and Safety Event Rules
Setting health and safety rules for your events will ensure all attendees abide by the same standards, rather than practicing their individual interpretations. Keep an eye on the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for guidelines and new developments on Coronavirus. Include your health and safety rules in all your event communication so attendees know and understand the expectations before arriving.
Be sure to craft appropriate rules for your audience and review them with other people before publishing them to make sure they are sound. Here are just a few suggestions on rules to consider: Limit the number of in-person event attendees to ensure proper social distance is maintained. Ask all attendees to sanitize their hands before entering the event and have sanitizing stations available. Require face masks to be worn and make sure you have a few disposable masks available for attendees that forget their own. Implement a “No Hand-Shake” policy at the event and greet one another with virtual hugs, or air waves.
Create an “Event Preparedness Plan”
Take special care in preparing your event space and communicate what you are doing to create a safe environment to your attendees. Event spaces should be thoroughly cleaned before and after each event. Make a detailed cleaning checklist that parish staff and volunteers can use and be sure to consult the CDC’s recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting your facility. Don’t forget to wipe-down your microphones, podiums, and other event specific items.
Here are some details to think through:
- Will food and beverage be available? If so, adopt strict safety measures in food preparation and serving or consider keeping your food and beverage options limited to pre-packaged offerings.
- What are your plans to have hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes accessible?
- Consider the availability of restrooms and how to keep the facilities safe.
- How will you pre-arrange your event seating to adhere to social distancing protocol?
- What materials will you need for the event? Avoid sharing pens and paper by asking attendees to bring their own.
- Where will you post signage to kindly remind guests of the health and safety rules?
Flexibility and Patience
Remember that we are all navigating uncharted territory together! Events won’t go back to normal or look the same, and that’s okay. It’s important to remain flexible and make decisions that promote the well-being of our communities. Have patience with yourself and ask other people for their help and perspective on how to prepare and run an event in these uncertain times. And finally, seek the Lord for counsel and submit your event into His care and protection.