July 10, 2009

Don't crash and burn

Another Tour de France analogy (sorry, folks -- if athlete analogies bug you, come back in a couple of weeks when the Tour is over!):

Some teams and riders have been caught off guard by tight curves and hairpin turns, causing crashes or loss of time taking unexpected turns too cautiously. The reason? Not all teams ride or drive the course in advance.

Here are two tweets by George Hincapie about preparing for race days:

"Rode the course two times this morning, then will another time this afternoon before race time. Course is very hard..."

"Heading to check ttt course again. Had a great night sleep..."

Here are two tweets from Levi Leipheimer:

"Rode the course this morning, had lunch, now I'm in my room getting ready 2 go 2 the bus/start & ride the course again, I start at 4:37 CET"

"Rode 4 laps of the TT today, getting to know it is important, deciding on gears to use isn't so easy"

Not only are George, Levi and their teams checking the course once, but they're reviewing it multiple times.

Riders will note how tight the turns are, how bumpy or gravelly the road is, where there might be slippery painted lines on a rainy day. They will note when and where to brake and shift, how steep the ascents and descents are, and where there are flat areas and shade to recover. And they'll look for spots on the course where there are headwinds, tailwinds, or crosswinds. These notes allow them to plan their team and individual tactics and timing, and to be as fully prepared as possible.

Why should you check your venue in advance? To find out:
  • Where the audience will sit and where you will stand

  • What equipment is available and where it is, if permanently placed

  • If the room can be heated or cooled appropriately

  • If there are street noises, sounds from other rooms, echoes from lack of floor and wall coverings, or noise from air conditioning or fans?

  • Whether the room is the right size for the number of people attending?

  • Whether your equipment works with the equipment being provided (computers, projectors, sound systems, etc.)?

  • Where tables can be placed to put your notes, props, water, products for sale, etc.?

  • What the lighting is like and where it's focused

  • If the doors slam or close quietly in case people come in late (you might need to tape the door latches flat)

And more!

Don't crash and burn because you didn't bother to check a new venue thoroughly.

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4 comments. Please add yours! :

Lee Potts said...

Don't be fooled into thinking you have a full understanding of a meeting room just because the hotel emailed you a room diagram. (Breaking Murphy's Law Principle # 5: The diagram is not the room. http://www.breakingmurphyslaw.com/the-principles/)

Lisa's right, most of the important information that you need to know about your room can only be learned while you're actually in the room.

For instance, make sure you know the best place to set up the projection screen so the room lighting doesn't wash out your slides. Make sure to note where the electric outlets are.

By the way, it's best to find this stuff out weeks before your event (if at all possible) rather than an hour before show time. Advance site visits can be crucial to the success of your event.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Haha -- Lee, I send them my OWN diagram of what I want the room to be set up like.

Great additional tips, too, like the electrical outlets.

lee@leepotts.com said...

If you're at an older hotel that hadn't been renovated recently, you might also want to check to make sure the electric outlets aren't worn out.

There's one hotel we worked at a number of times where you had to tape the power cable to the wall under the outlet. The cable's weight was enough to pull the plug out of the socket.

I'm not making this up. Really!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

I've seen that before, too, Lee. You really have to be vigilant about checking everything!

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