Did you sweep your room?
No, you didn’t jump into a conversation with my daughters; I’m writing about that last walk around your space at the end of an event before you leave the room.
In the 40 years I’ve been involved in staging events, I’ve seen lots of stuff left behind – production equipment, band instruments, awards, coats, giveaways like bags, USB keys, lanyards, shirts, etc. I’ve been guilty of exiting with less than I came with too; more on that later.
Stuff happens. The extra lighting instruments get put in a corner at load in and the load out crew doesn’t know about them; the musician gets distracted at the end of the evening and leaves their instrument(s) back stage or in a dressing room; the large award plaque is left on stage to be retrieved after the awards ceremony and isn’t; and the extra tchotchkies you provided for your attendees are left in bags/boxes in the registration area.
A simple walk around the registration area may save you from having to re-order the company logo’d lanyards for the next event. Re-boxing the award plaque seems like extra work now, but may save you several phone calls and perhaps a trip back to the venue the next day to track down the “missing” award.
I left one category of items off of my list above – presentation materials. Handouts, presentation notes, presenters’ laptops, tablets, and phones are all items that I’ve seen left behind at events. Backstage, on the table next to the water cooler, under a chair in the reserved front row seating, onstage on the podium shelf – almost anywhere there is a horizontal surface large enough for the item to sit on.
It is likely that in a relatively short period of time the owner will realize that they don’t have their device and come looking for it. Presumably, access to the electronics is password protected per corporate policy so that the contents of those devices is relatively inaccessible and, therefore, safe. What about the hard copy of the script, including the onscreen graphics? The presenter has finished their presentation and is either ready to move on to the next item on their personal agenda for the event and/or is just relieved their onstage time is over.
If this is a public event and you’ve just finished telling “the world” about your new product, then a copy of the script/graphics in the public’s hands is probably a good thing. But wait; if this is a closed event, then that script sitting under the chair in the front row may contain details of this year’s new products, sales strategies, marketing implementations, and other details that your company likely does not want available beyond the intended audience. This is the time you’ll be glad you spent the extra two minutes it takes to walk through back stage, check the podium, and look around the presenter’s seating area as you prepare to leave the room.
In a subsequent post, I’ll share what I’ve left behind when I haven’t done an adequate “dummy check” and reveal some of the things that I do to minimize the risk of leaving something behind.