You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo…
– Eminem, “Lose Yourself”
As a live performer, Eminem understands the value of dry runs. Nothing is more embarrassing than choking on your own lines in front of an excited (and judgemental) crowd.
As an event organiser, you should value dry runs as much as Eminem. Although your occupations are different, the result of a botched event is the same: People will boo. And throw things.
So let’s have a look at dry runs for events, why they’re important, and how to do them.
Read on to discover…
- What a dry run is
- Why you should do one for your event
- How to do a successful dry run
- The different kinds of dry runs
- Which events a dry run is most suited for
- A checklist for event dry runs
The truth is that you don’t just get one shot at putting on a successful event. At least not if you rehearse properly.
What is a dry run for events?
Those of you familiar with the world of theatre will know about the term “dress rehearsal.” It’s where the actors run through the entire play as if the audience was present.
No breaks, comments, or changes are allowed during a dress rehearsal. It’s a brilliant exercise in what will happen on the day and how everyone will handle any mistakes that are made.
A dry run for your event should be similar to a dress rehearsal. It’s a way for you to check if you and your staff are properly prepared for what’s to come once the actual guests arrive.
Think of it as a fire drill. It’s not meant to cause additional stress but rather to reduce it because everyone already knows exactly what to do.
Why should you do a dry run for your event?
Some time back, Barack Obama’s limousine nicknamed “The Beast” got stuck on a speed bump. (Or didn’t, depending on who you ask.) It seemed like a hilarious scenario to most people—and pathetic in the eyes of his critics.
Imagine the most secure car in the whole world caught off-guard by a tiny speed bump. This scenario emphasises how important dry runs are to the success of an event.
How to do a successful event run-through
Cover every aspect of your event to make sure that the response from you and your team is how you want it to be. Obama’s team had probably done several thorough dry runs.
However, that was before the fateful visit to Ireland. They left something out that day, and the result is now everywhere on the Internet for people to see.
Events dry runs expose those tiny chinks in the armour that may not be apparent during the planning process. They will not crop up until you begin the actual execution.
In order to know how you do a successful event run-through, it’s important you understand the different kinds of event dry runs, as well as which events they’re most suited for.
The different kinds of event dry runs
The kind of dry run you’ll do for your event will largely depend on the type of event you’re organising. But as a general rule of thumb, there are two kinds of dry runs.
Technical dry run
Here, you test all the technical equipment that you’re planning on using during the main event. That includes sound, lighting, special effects, and automation.
In theatre, for example, the designers will do a special dry run to see how light will affect the colour of the props and costumes so that they can make the changes needed.
The tech crew will also get a chance to familiarise themselves with the flow of the event and to fix any issue such as framing, light brightness levels, position, and angles.
Logistical dry run
A logistical dry run is where your team will have a chance to practice going through all the motions for the event.
That includes preparing the menu, setting the table arrangements and décor, mixing the cocktails, putting up signs, and going through all the event plans.
This kind of dry run should be done as close to the real event as possible, so no one forgets what they should do before it has to happen.
Types of events where dry runs are most relevant
All kinds of events can benefit from a dry run, although some are definitely more likely to need one than others. Let’s go over the four kinds of events that will get the most value out of a dry run.
Events such as a live product demonstration by a company should leave the audience buzzing with anticipation and excitement for the new product or service.
Nothing is more embarrassing than trying to showcase a new product only for it to fail in front of the audience you’re hoping to sell it to. Don’t be like Apple here below:
As mentioned earlier, theatres are very well-versed in dry runs and dress rehearsals. That’s because it will break the audience’s suspension of disbelief if it goes wrong.
Even The Play That Goes Wrong, which is based around the concept of everything falling apart, is meticulously planned. (Mostly so no props hit the actors on the head.)
As with theatre performances, audiences attend music concert with the expectation that everyone knows what they’re doing—the musicians in particular.
If the lead singer forgets their lines, the drummer is out of time, and the guitarist messes up their solo, then it spells out “negative review” in all caps.
Many things can go wrong during a presentation. None perhaps as unfortunate as the incident where a school teacher accidentally played a “birds and bees” video on a projector in front of a gobsmacked class.
Don’t be like him. Especially not if your presentation is about something serious that you want people to buy into or support with a donation.
Checklist for event dry runs
Now that you’re familiar with dry runs, the importance of them, and how to apply them, it’s time to look at the practical know-how of dry runs for events.
Here’s a list of things you can do prior to the event as part of your dry run:
- Turn on the lights and make sure they fall in the right place.
- Try out the microphones and watch out for feedback.
- Arrange the tables and seating.
- Make sure everyone can see what’s going on no matter where they sit.
- Put up the venue decor.
- Proof-read all documents, slides, and files.
- Check the WiFi speed.
- Perform the show with all the actors and props.
Tip: You can read more about each of these items in this article that includes an event dry run checklist.
Don’t leave it to chance
Due to the feeling of being strapped for cash, time, or both, some event organisers may choose to forego an event dry run before the main event.
That can become a costly affair in a split second. You risk negative reviews on social media, demoralising your team, and putting off sponsors and donors.
Therefore, include a dry run event in your budget. It just might save you money down the line.