Staging Events Outdoors

Tips for Assemblies, Part 2

Anyone who has ever planned an outdoor event knows: plan for rain, hope for sun, and stock up on sunscreen. Outdoor events can be amazing, and they can really bomb. Here are a few tips to help make things work better.

  1. When planning an outdoor event, ask yourself: Is having it outdoors worth the trouble? Some outdoor events need tents, power, and leave lawns a wreck. On the other hand, a beautiful day of stories in lovely weather can make everything worthwhile. Having tents can make your outdoor event fly no matter what.
  2. Make sure you have a Plan B in case of bad weather — whether it’s a rain date or a nearby indoor venue. Make sure your contact lists/email lists are updated as soon as an event is moved.
  3. Make sure there is something neutral behind the stage. In other words, put your performer’s back to the wall, a glade of trees, or a backdrop. There is nothing more distracting than having a troop of boy scouts march behind a teller in the middle of a story.
  4. If there is no power, is there a battery-powered amplification system? If the space is a natural ampitheater, make sure your performer’s voice will carry. If possible make sure that the sound is aimed in the direction that the wind will be blowing. Sound vibrations are carried by air, and a wind blowing into the face of the performer will make it more difficult to hear than a wind blowing toward the audience.
  5. Can the audience see the performer? Do you need a raised stage?
  6. Clean out any bee or wasps nests well in advance. One buzzing be can (and has) ruin an entire event.
  7. Ask families to sit together. Suggest that they bring blankets. Don’t let the kids run around and the parents chat in the back. It’s a recipe for chaos and disaster.
  8. Keep it short — but allow for encores. Better to have a successful short event than a long lingering and languishing one.
  9. Have water available for sale or for free.
  10. Keep any power generators far from the stage and the audience. It’s amazing how much noise these things can make. If you have food trucks, try to keep them away too.