Special events are minefields when it comes to corporate protocol. Who sits where on the stage? In what order do executives speak? Who introduces whom? All of these sensitive issues and more must be addressed.
Unlike many corporate events, which may only involve one executive, special events usually include multiple executives, elected officials, board members, community VIPs, etc. So, being knowledgeable and prepared to properly coordinate their involvement in your event is critical.
Early Contact is Key
Identify the executives, elected officials and other VIPs who will be involved in your event early on. They have busy, demanding schedules and you want to get your event on their calendar as soon as possible.
Give Clear Instructions
Are they being asked to speak, cut a ribbon, introduce a dignitary? After your initial contact, follow up with executives/VIPs with details on the event and their role. Include an event agenda and other pertinent information. This will ensure that there are no last-minute surprises. Not certain of protocols when numerous dignitaries are expected? Be sure to get expert help. You don’t want an opportunity to turn into a company embarrassment.
Assign Staff to Escort VIPs
While many corporate executives have administrative assistants who accompany them to events, many elected officials, particularly on the local level, do not. Assign an employee to greet VIPs and distinguished guests and stay nearby to assist, as needed.
For some special events, you may need a private “holding” area for executives or VIPs prior to their public appearance or remarks. A good rule of thumb in special event planning is to find out in advance if these special guests are comfortable mingling with other attendees or prefer to stay out of sight.
Practice Good Business Etiquette
Recognize elected officials from high to low positions. With elected officials, jurisdiction takes precedence. If you have a keynote speaker, the master of ceremonies should recognize officials prior to the introduction of the keynote speaker or senior corporate executive.
Planning corporate special, strategic events? Take a look at our free primer, A Spotlight on Strategic Corporate Events, filled with strategies and tactics to make your special event one that draws rave reviews.