Written by Robin Purslow, Managing Director of Eclipse.
To celebrate 30 years in the business, creative event production company Eclipse has created a handy 30-step guide to help event organisers make their next project a success. Whether you are facilitating a gala dinner, putting together a conference, or curating an exhibition, this step-by-step list is all you need to ensure an excellent event.
1. Have vision. Ask yourself what you’d like to achieve from your event and aim for it.
2. Write a plan. It doesn’t have to be detailed at this point, but having some idea of the format and how you’d like it to proceed will help at the briefing stage.
3. Engage event production. Event production companies live and breathe events. Briefing them at this stage will enable them to make suitable suggestions to achieve your desired outcome before you book anything.
4. Time it right. Check competitors aren’t planning their awards night, exhibition or conference close to your proposed date to ensure guests will come.
5. Set a budget. Having a rough idea of how much you have available to spend on an event at the start allows providers to work within your means (and avoids nasty bills at the end).
6. Book providers. Doing this early on not only gives you peace of mind, but will also ensure the best equipment and staff are available for your event.
7. Choose the right venue for your style of event. Eclipse has worked with hundreds of venues of all shapes and sizes, and is the official partner to many in London, which is why engaging an event production company early on means you’ll have the best chance at securing the perfect space.
8. Consider capacity. Will you be able to fit everyone into your desired venue? Equally, if you have a small guest list will delegates look lost in a large space? Another benefit of working with a technical event production company is that they can be creative with staging to help you fill or maximise the space if needed.
9. Think location, location, location. If those you want to attend are available, can they reach your venue easily? Research where the majority of attendees will be travelling from and ensure that public transport is accessible.
10. Contemplate tapping into the web streaming trend. If a large number of potential attendees are unable to make it to the venue itself, you could take the event to them via web streaming.
11. Investigate accommodation. If attendees are coming from afar, are there enough places for them to stay nearby? You may be able to negotiate preferable rates with local hotels if you can guarantee a certain number of guests.
12. Check access rights. If the venue you have booked for an evening event is used during the day for other purposes (ie. As a museum or art gallery) your access may be restricted until closing time.
13. Think outside the box. Taking a creative approach to events is easier than you think if you’re working with the right people and could make your event really stand out from the rest.
14. Take staging seriously. Talk to your production agency about the event’s format to determine what kind of platform, seating and props you’ll need. Eclipse has a number of creative solutions that could give your event the real wow factor.
15. Think sound. What are the acoustics like in your chosen venue? The type of venue and event format will determine which kind of microphones you’ll need.
16. Think lighting. Lighting is one of the easiest ways to create atmosphere so is an important factor to consider.
17. Muse over music. Like lighting, music is another effective way to create atmosphere. Careful selection can set the right tone to announce speakers or help relax delegates between sessions.
18. Be creative with break-out areas. Most conferences offer these to delegates and there’s no reason why they should be neglected. Eclipse used lighting to create dedicated zones for Uber at its first UberEngage event last year.
19. Check out the latest event technology to see how it could enhance your event. Could the latest event apps help inform and engage delegates and could 4k screens really bring your presentations to life?
20. Factor in photography and videography. You may well want to capture the event for attendees and non-attendees, so consider hiring official photographers and a videographer and ensure they will have suitable backdrops to take those perfect shots.
21. Take a step back. Once you’ve briefed and booked your chosen agency, give them some space to flex their creative muscles and design your dream event.
22. Communicate. While it can be a good idea to take a step back, ensuring there is regular and open communication with all parties ensures everyone is on the same page and that no misunderstandings occur.
23. Look after each other. The run-up to events can be stressful, so check on any colleagues who may seem overwhelmed and offer them support if they need it.
24. Think sustainability. Is what you’re planning good for the environment? Make use of materials that can be re-used to minimise waste.
25. Consider catering. Will guests be eating at your event? If so, think about the type of catering planned to determine use of the space. Guests will be seated at tables for a gala dinner while space will be needed to accommodate buffet tables, food stations or to allow staff to move easily to distribute canapes at less formal affairs.
26. Factor in rehearsal time. As the saying goes ‘practice makes perfect’, so run through as much of the event as possible before it happens to iron out any potential problems.
27. Draw up a timetable for the finished event. The aforementioned run-through will give a clearer idea of how long proposed talks, presentations, or awards will take, so sharing timings with production teams will give them a clear idea of what’s going on and when so they can ensure everything is where it needs to be. Sharing a brief timetable with guests in an invite and on an event app is also a good idea.
28. Make it clear where everyone needs to be. Give plans to the event team and ensure signage and table plans are clear and plentiful at the event itself. If you decide to use an event app, include a map of the venue and table plans to make it easier for guests to navigate their way around.
29. Don’t forget the team. Guests are important, but those running the event are crucial. Ensure team members are aware of the plan and are fed and watered so they have enough energy to deliver an excellent event.
30. Remember anything is possible when you use the right event production company.
Robin Purslow is Managing Director of Eclipse.
Robin has been sole shareholder of Eclipse since 2016 after successfully negotiating the MBO of the retiring owners. The company, which provides production services to leading venues in the UK, as well as corporate clients and agencies in the UK, Europe and globally, employs almost 100 staff.
After graduating from Sussex University in 1988, Robin started a career managing hotel leisure facilities, working with firms such as Whitbread, Marriott and Shire Inns.
In 1995 he moved into the audio visual production business, joining Aztec Events as General Manager of the hire and events division where he worked for four years.
Robin left Aztec Events in 1999 to launch Corporate Audio Visual (CAV) which he re-branded as Live Productions in 2004 after establishing it as a leader in the venue managed market and corporate production specialist.
The following year, Robin was given the opportunity to acquire the company where he had launched his career in audio visual production – Aztec Events – so he merged the company with Live Productions.
In 2007, Live Productions was merged with Eclipse, creating a £9m company with a greater market share. Robin became a board director of Eclipse with its founders who he then bought out nine years’ later.