by Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM | December 01, 2014
Meeting and event rehearsals too often are treated as afterthoughts. Smooth delivery of major elements, such as keynote speeches and award presentations, should be a top goal for planners. Following are tips on when rehearsals are called for, who to include, when to hold them and more.

When Rehearsal Is Needed

Not every event requires rehearsal time, but among those that do are keynote addresses, all elements that are hosted by emcees, award ceremonies, and any segment that includes musical or visual cues.

Note that some professional speakers might not want or need to rehearse; they might just want a minute or two to check out the stage setup and discuss their preferences with your technical producer. Encourage nonprofessional speakers (company executives, academics) to rehearse, so they can get over any concerns ahead of time.

In addition to speakers, emcees and other talent, other individuals that should be included are technical producers and crew. (For these individuals, always factor in and confirm union rules about breaks, overtime charges for off-hour rehearsals, etc.) If a celebrity or VIP is rehearsing, make sure their handlers and/or personal assistants are included.

Award presentations should always be rehearsed in some manner; no one wants to get the names of any recipients wrong, or have the wrong slides/videos play on their big night. Again, musical cues -- whether recorded or live -- should be rehearsed before the ceremony.

Also consider rehearsals for meetings that include multinational and multilingual audiences, where a simultaneous interpreter will translate the key points the speaker is presenting. Speakers and interpreters should practice to determine pauses and the length of time each translation will take during the course of the speech. They also should go over any phrases that might be difficult to translate for the group.

Time It Right
Plan your rehearsal as far in advance as you can. If possible, schedule it for when the venue confirms your load-in time for the meeting, which is when all of your equipment, staging, etc., can be set up on-site.

Once you have scheduled your rehearsal, communicate the details with precision and clarity to all the participants, including who needs to be where and when, and how long each rehearsal segment is expected to take. If you are planning a full dress rehearsal for an awards ceremony, for example, or if a simple walk-through or slide test is all that's needed, make sure this is understood and agreed upon by all parties.

It's also wise to share the rehearsal agenda with relevant stakeholders (VIPs, sponsors, company executives) so they can voice their opinions well in advance.

Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM, is an event producer and writer who specializes in strategic global event marketing. She is based in Pacifica, Calif.