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The 7 deadly sins of event production

Event production

Whether we realise it or not, we have all produced events in our lives, be they large or small, on a personal, family or corporate level. Some will have been a big success, others perhaps less so. But the one thing they all have in common is the need for design, preparation and production.

Ludic’s creatives have years of experience of producing events at every level, running the gamut from their hometowns’ cultural festivals, through city-wide congresses and trade shows, to large-scale corporate transformation, engagement and strategic design events that span the globe. And if there’s one thing all these years of experience have taught us, it’s that any event can be successful as long as you avoid the seven deadly sins of event production:

Sin 1. Killing Creativity

This is especially important if you’re working in a competitive environment and want your event to stand out. Rather than killing creativity and the challenges it poses, be more open to those challenges and allow more freedom within your event design. Whether it’s a physical or virtual event, make it about the entire experience. The new reality and rapid pace at which organisations are now forced to operate require new, creative approaches. Remember: small changes to the initial design can have significant effects.

Sin 2. Going Without Your A-Team

There is no “I” or “you” in a live event – each event will only be as strong as the team behind it. So ensure success by putting your A-Team in charge. These are people who know each other, are professionals and experienced in the field, the people you trust to go the extra mile to make it happen. Process facilitation is necessary but micromanagement is not. Your A-team acts as your extra eyes and ears, catching any issues and making sure they are solved in a smooth and timely manner. Don’t leave your A-team behind!

Sin 3. Lacking Organisation

In some walks of life, a little organised chaos goes a long way. In the events territory this simply does not hold true. Lacking organisation ups the stakes, immediately increasing your chances of an unsuccessful event. However, a few simple steps can help smooth your path.

Start out by making friends,getting to know all the stakeholders – from sponsor to venue, technology and catering teams – what their roles will be and how to get hold of them quickly during the event. Explore the environment and how it impacts on and can be configured to meet your event’s design needs. If your event is virtual, explore all the features you can use to make the online experience more interesting and engaging. Create a detailed runsheet (the agenda) and don’t forget to share it! Make sure your team has the information it needs to successfully deliver at the right time, in the right manner. Brief your team so there are no surprises and have regular circle ups during the event, timing them carefully to ensure a seamless running of the show.

Sin 4. Being Unprepared @ Go Live

The set-up time is your time! Allow enough time before the event goes live to make sure everything is ready, in place and tested. Things won’t always go well – there’s a chance technology may let you down, materials and equipment might go missing. But be prepared for last-minute changes and be flexible in your environment. Should you need to, adjust your agenda and process respectively.

Sin 5. Forgetting Your Sponsor

Key to a successful event is the relationship between the sponsoring client and the event production and facilitation team. Make sure you spend enough time with them in the design phase and be clear about the event objective and outcomes. Establish trust between your team and the sponsoring team. Remember to rehearse and walk them through the event design on set-up day, be prepared to incorporate any last-minute changes and ensure regular check-ins with them during the event. 

Sin 6. Showing Your Stress

Stress is no great companion to anyone – though you and/or your team members may not always be able to get away from it. What you can do is to hide it so well that no one ever notices, even when the most difficult situation arises. Whatever happens, keep smiling and carry on but always keep the sponsor up to date. Reassure them when everything is running smoothly and be honest when a problem arises – if it really is necessary to share. Remember: what happens behind the scenes stays behind the scenes!

Sin 7. Not Having A Plan B

Once the curtain’s up, there’s still a chance things will go wrong, no matter how much preparation and advance testing you’ve done. Imagine that a speaker doesn’t show up, that the sponsor suddenly changes the agenda, or that the fancy technology that was working so beautifully earlier now refuses to play along.This is where your Plan B comes in. You can only deal with the unexpected if you are PRO-active and not RE-active – and so not having a Plan B can be as deadly as having no plan at all. Make sure you build flexibility into the design of the event at the outset, allowing you to make changes or shift the entire environment (whether physical or virtual) to serve the purposes of the participating group when the unpredictable strikes.

No matter what happens, you have participants, an audience and stakeholders who are there to work, be educated, be informed or entertained, so you have to deliver. It’s all about the experience and the show must go on.


Be a saint, not a sinner! Be Proactive. Playful. Productive.

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