coordinating volunteers on event day

It’s crunch time, and you need everyone working together to make sure this event goes off without a hitch and hopefully with a bang. And a lot of positive press, too.

Here are some simple steps you can take to make sure you, your staff and your volunteers all work together instead of independently on game day.

1. Start with all hands on deck

Have a short, all-hands meeting early on event day. By now, everyone should have their checklists, and one another’s contact information. Everyone should also have clear lines of communication and reporting. Who do they go to for problem-solving? Keep in mind, It shouldn’t always be you. The purpose of this meeting is motivational, not informational. Give them the pep talk you wish your high school hockey coach had given you. If you need to, write a speech ahead of time. Thank people and give credit by name, frequently.

2. Don’t clutter the airwaves

If your event is sizeable, there will be multiple teams with multiple areas of responsibility. Don’t clutter already preoccupied minds with stuff they don’t need to hear. Deliver news about entertainment to the entertainment committee, not the entire crew. Logistical glitches should be discussed with the logistics team. This keeps people focused on their areas of expertise and responsibility and prevents them from feeling overwhelmed. Each separate team should have their own checklist, preferably self-designed ahead of time.

3. Keep the master list to yourself

As mentioned earlier, make sure each person has the key contacts for their areas of responsibility. Depending on their role, this might mean phone numbers for you, the banquet manager, head of housekeeping, lighting designer, and so forth. Do not make one master list to distribute to everyone. If you do this, what will happen is everyone will call you for everything, which is not what you want on the day of the event. You, of course, have the master list and it will stay in your hands.

4. Make use of social media

You can use social media tools to communicate to and among groups: Facebook and Twitter have private (direct) group messaging, and you can also use a special hashtag just for your team. Not everything has to be verbal or over the phone, and it can often be useful to have things in writing, for clarity’s sake. Keep your ringer on until shortly before the event, then set your phone to vibrate.

5. Say thanks

Don’t forget to thank your team from the stage. It means a lot to them, and volunteers sometimes get a bigger round of applause than speakers, that is if they’ve done a terrific job.

Afterparty? Why not. You’ve all had a long, grueling day, and you should be able to blow off some steam in the company of your comrades. If you’re smart, you got it sponsored. If you’re really smart, you’ve preordered taxis to get tired celebrants home safely.

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