Many of you will now be experiencing the new world of post-COVID face-to-face events. For some it is very exciting but for others it is rather daunting. Whatever your feelings, event etiquette has changed, and event anxiety has emerged!
We have some tips for you, whether you are organising an event or trying to decide whether to attend an event.
Communication between attendees and organisers is more important than ever. There is no point in ignoring the elephant in the room. We have all been living through the pandemic and sadly it is still with us. People feel more comfortable if the issue is addressed and reassurance given.
For some, attending events is still nerve wracking. Though we all want to continue living our lives and having fun, new precautions are needed. People appreciate being kept safe and told the truth. Event attendees need to have clear expectations. Communication is key to ensuring everyone knows what they need to do before, during and after an event.
If attendees are asked to take a lateral flow test before they come or to sanitise on arrival, then the likelihood is they will. If the organiser is doing nothing to mitigate the risk of COVID then red flags will be raised and attendees might not attend at all.
Appropriate event behaviour has a new meaning. How you conduct yourself now goes far beyond what you say or your body language. You need to respect others wishes to a greater level than ever before.
For example, you may be happy to fist bump, handshake, or hug. But that doesn’t mean others are. You might be thinking, how am I meant to know whether they are comfortable or not? Good question. At a recent event we organised, we introduced a traffic light sticker system. The stickers allowed attendees to display to others their comfort level with physical contact. Depending on the colour picked people knew whether you would be happy to shake hands or prefer a distance kept.
The Numbers Game
How many people are attending an event can make a big difference to the safety of the event. As a result, organisers need to know how many attendees there will be in advance to allow for social distancing or just safe distancing.
If invited to an event you should let the organiser know if you plan to attend. Firstly, because it is always polite to inform an organiser (sw. – we still have to explain this?!). Secondly, attendee information is often required for COVID recording purposes. Thirdly, and most importantly, event organisers have a duty to their attendees and want to ensure they feel comfortable and safe. Whatever your views on the virus, it is not worth exposing anyone to unnecessary risk or discomfortwhen there are a few simple things which can help prevent it.
In conclusion, whether you are organising an event or attending an event, think, and don’t do anything you don’t feel comfortable with. As an organiser if you have put precautions in place and informed attendees about them, then they can decide for themselves if they want to attend your event or not, but at least you have done your part.
As an attendee if you do not feel comfortable attending a face to face event for whatever reason, then do not attend, and perhaps tell the event organiser why. Because your well-being should be paramount to event organisers now, more than ever.