In today's world, planning for an event now means that you need to keep in mind that people who attend will expect that you provide additional space for them to maintain their social distance. But how do you do that for large gatherings? There are several things that you should generally be doing anyway. However, they are even more critical now as it helps you properly plan for distancing while still allowing people to get together for special events.

Don't Miss Critical Measurements

Planning events has only gotten trickier this year with Covid, whether for a wedding, corporate event, or other large gatherings. Before you start getting various things to fill that space, you need to know precisely how large the area is that you have to work with. You should have square footage measures and other measurements for the venues you are designing for, but if you don't have them or a new venue that you haven't worked with before, it is essential to get this information for your records. To help people maintain social distances, you want to provide them adequate space to do so, and that starts by knowing how much space you have at the venue to work with. You may be able to get these digitally and import them into your event software, but if you need to, plan a visit to the venue and walk the space with a measuring tool, so you have the future measurements.

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Getting The Headcount

The next critical piece you will need to know for event planning is the headcount, or how many people are coming. Between the venue size and the headcount, you should figure out if you will be strapped for space or hold several ballroom dances. Of course, last minute additions or subtractions are possible, even likely, but if you can get a good idea of the number of people expected, that's what you are looking for. The sooner you can get this number, the easier it will be on your planning strategies.

Sightlines Are Important

Now that you know the venue's size and the measurements, and the headcount for how many you should expect for the event, you can directly deal with the sightlines. No matter the type of event that is happening, it is essential that everyone attending can see the important activities planned for the event. At the very least, plan to stagger the seating enough to have a clearer view of the activities. If the venue space is large enough, put some distance between the speakers and the attendees. Social distancing is important, but if you can go beyond this distance to help everyone see things better. If there is a single table where all of the VIPs will be, consider putting that up on a dais or elevated platform to make it easier for everyone to see. And if you have any video screens or whiteboards, ensure that these are high enough for everyone to see what is going on there.

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A/v equipment

Customize the A/V Setup

It doesn't matter the event, you will likely be needing audio equipment so that everyone can hear the speaker as well as what is being asked if questions from the audience are allowed. Be sure that the speakers are positioned such that it blankets the venue so everything can be heard no matter where in the space you are. And unless everything is wireless (which is excellent), you will have at least a few wires to contend with. Make sure those wires are routed to be out of the way to prevent people from tripping over them and the cables getting damaged. Additionally, you might put a sign on any standup microphone for audience participation that they should wear a mask when using the microphone to help reduce the spread of Covid. If you can, do a soundcheck before the event starts to ensure that everything works as you expect it to.

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Room To Move

You usually want to have decent room to move around tables and displays and provide a few gathering spots for people to network and chat. With our new regulations on keeping distances, it becomes even more important to identify traffic routes and make sure that they are wide enough for people to maintain some distance from each other as they move about the venue. Of course, the wider traffic aisles are appreciated by caterers if you have them, any potential interaction with the VIPs during their presentations or performances, and just having the extra space to distance how people want to. This should also include thinking about the potential for ADA compliance as well. Those in wheelchairs or using canes or walkers should be provided the additional space to get around without issues.

Software And Walking The Event

Most people don't realize that there are standard sizes to the different tables used at the events, as well as the chairs and other items. Because these have been standardized, the software has been developed to bring in the size and dimensions of the venue and then start placing the different equipment where you want it. You can quickly realize that how you first thought the tables should be will not work for the caterer, or that it would be better to have round tables instead of rectangular ones, or that the raised platform can be reconfigured and moved inside of the space. And when you want to ensure that people are social distancing at the event, you can plan accordingly all in the software to make sure that things are set up the way you need them. And yet, there is nothing that replaces walking the space yourself, both before it is setup and after. On the screen, it probably looked like there would be enough space for that extra table on the side, but in reality, you discover that it is more in the way. Or you find that you can move a few things and accommodate an additional table. Last-minute changes do happen, and seeing the space in-person helps to ensure that things are setup correctly.

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space layout

Wrap Up

We aren't ending gatherings of groups, but we are doing things to mitigate them from becoming hotspots of Covid activity. Taking all things into account will allow you to properly plan for these events while keeping social distancing in the mix of planning.

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FAQ Answer
What are the best strategies for calculating the amount of space needed per person at an event for proper social distancing? To calculate the space needed per person for social distancing, use the total square footage of the venue and divide it by the expected number of attendees. Ensure each person has enough room to move around comfortably, generally factoring in at least 6 feet of space around each person.
How can you manage last-minute changes in the headcount effectively? To manage last-minute changes effectively, maintain regular communication with invitees, monitor RSVPs closely, and prepare flexible seating arrangements that can be adjusted easily. Also, having contingency plans for both increases and decreases in headcount can help accommodate changes smoothly.
Are there specific considerations for A/V setup to maintain social distancing? When setting up A/V equipment for social distancing, position speakers and screens in a way that sound and visuals are clear throughout the venue, minimizing crowding in specific areas. Consider using more screens and speakers distributed evenly to cover the entire space effectively.
What should be considered for ADA compliance in event planning during Covid? For ADA compliance, ensure all pathways are wide enough for wheelchairs, canes, and walkers, and seating arrangements accommodate easy access. Also, consider the placement of hygiene stations and the accessibility of all event features for individuals with disabilities.
How do you ensure that sightlines are maintained in a socially distanced setup? To maintain good sightlines, stagger seating to avoid direct obstructions, use elevated platforms for speakers or important visuals, and ensure that screens or displays are placed high enough and angled for easy viewing from all areas.
What are the advantages of using event planning software in the context of Covid-19? Event planning software helps visualize and simulate layouts with social distancing measures, allowing adjustments to be made easily before the actual setup. It can help plan traffic flow, seating arrangements, and ensure that all health guidelines are met efficiently.