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Event Staffing 101: How To Find The Perfect Event Staff

The sun is beating down on your live event, and the people you’re paying to stir up excitement around your client’s products are lounging in the shade, sipping water. If this has happened to you, it looks like you may have missed the key factor in making your live event a success: doing event staffing the right way.

To find those perfect people, you have to tailor your hires to the event’s location, atmosphere, and audience. You can’t do event staffing well, unless you open up a line of communication with your client to learn as much as you can about their goals, their brand (if they’re hosting an experiential marketing event), and the event location. Armed with that information, you’ll be able to hire the right staff to manage your event.

Six Tips To Do Event Staffing Better:

1. Know the client:

Of course, you know your clients. But do you know their values, tastes, and expectations? They may be expecting brand ambassadors in pleated khakis and collared shirts — or that look may totally miss the mark. It could also be that a client prefers event staff to look edgy - think tattoo-covered brand ambassador - but you won’t know your client’s unique preferences unless you ask.

To do event staffing well, you must know the look and feel your client is trying to achieve. Then communicate the desired look and feel to your staff.

2. Define the goals:

The goals will determine whether event staff should be sales-oriented or more entertainment-minded. A sampling event or an engagement event will require different support staff than a trade show. Let the goals of the event define who you need on the team.

Eventprofs shouldn't be afraid to thoroughly interview candidates before your event. Make sure that they are comfortable entertaining large crowds, being a brand ambassador for the day, or generating leads for your client. To do event staffing well, you must pair the perfect staff personalities with the goals of the event.

3. Estimate audience size:

The size of your audience determines how your ambassadors engage attendees. For smaller more intimate settings, you’ll want to find event staff that are good at interacting with people one-on-one or in small groups. For larger audiences, you’re going to want to find people who are good at entertaining large crowds.

It’s rare to find a staff member who can do both well, so before you hire them, check to see if they have prior experience that indicates what they might be good at. Someone who has worked in the restaurant industry could be perfect for smaller events, while an aspiring performer would likely be great at larger events for example.

4. Know the target audience:

You can’t hire the right staff members if you don’t know who they need to connect with. Ultimately, you must have staff members who can relate to consumers. Otherwise, you’ll only turn potential buyers off. If you’re not going to take the target audience into account, you need to re-think your event management strategy.

When doing event staffing work, it’s a good idea to keep in mind what sort of knowledge you’ll want your staff to have. Should they have intimate local knowledge or technical understanding about a product? Should they be informed about industry terms that attendees might use in conversation? Properly selecting and educating event staff about what they should know prior to event day is a key best-practice.

5. Use a checklist during staff interviews:

Your checklist will help everyone stick to a script during interviews, and it will be useful when comparing notes later on. Questions should evaluate whether candidates are an appropriate fit for the client, the brand, and the location. Specific items to include on the list will vary of course. But generally it’s good to know about:

  • Work background that might help the staff member during the event

  • Knowledge of the brand, product, or field covered by the event

  • Willingness of candidate to advocate for a brand or cause

  • Comfort level a candidate has interacting with people one-on-one, in a small group, or in front of a large audience.

  • Flexibility of the candidate's schedule should the timing of the event change

6. Communicate your needs honestly and openly:

Organizers who do event staffing successfully are willing to have an open dialogue with candidates about the demands of the event. If you need someone to be bouncy for 12 hours straight, be upfront about that. Create a database of candidates who you hire for the event, or who you think might be a good fit for another kind of event with notes about their personality. That way, you can refer to this database of pre-screened event staffing candidates for future events and conferences.

Ultimately, people are human, and things can be out of our control. But having the right people in place is half the battle, and can serve as a mitigating factor should something go wrong. When event staffing is done thoughtfully, it can really help avert disaster. Selecting staff members who are diligent hard workers and who fit well with the type of event you are organizing means that you are increasing the number of people willing to go the extra mile to ensure the event is successful.

Anthony Russo has been a self-employed business owner for more than five years, and his seven-figure agency, Identity Marketing, is recognized by the top companies in the field of experiential promotional marketing. Russo is also a professional speaker and an emcee for large national events.