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Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record
Dear Professor
Managing Corporate Events

Dear Professor:
I am interested in corporate stage management. What tools are necessary for this transition?

And the professor replies:

Corporate stage management is a field that some people specialize in and others do as a side job to fill in the time between shows. The number one skill that you have to be prepared to transfer is your flexibility. While we may rehearse a stage show for weeks, corporate events are often put on with little or no rehearsal. You may get the opportunity to walk the parties through the space or you may only get to speak with them and tell them what they are to do when they step in front of the crowd.

You can prepare for corporate events and script them heavily, but you must be prepared for problems to occur and to be ready to either fix them or work around them. These can be anything from a speaker not showing up on time to someone being allergic to the flowers in the arrangements on the stage. While we were stage managing a speech by a major corporate power, he showed up with a raging fever. He insisted on giving the speech. We added ice to the pitcher of water at the lectern and found multiple box fans to blow air from offstage to make him comfortable. No matter how many problems you prepare for, something unexpected will go wrong and you must be flexible and quick thinking to cover it and move on.

Other practical skills include a working knowledge of stage equipment, sound, and lighting. You needn't be an expert in each of these areas, but, as in theatre, you have to speak with these crews and help identify and solve problems. Since corporate events tend to rent most of their equipment, you may well be exposed to the newest stuff on the market and that can be fun and educational.

Finally, people skills are highly important. You must be equally comfortable speaking with the crew as well as the major corporate executive sponsoring the event. You will work with all types of people and in all types of situations. The ability to adapt to each of those situations quickly and comfortably will make doing corporate events more comfortable and fun.

"Dear Professor Production" is available to answer your questions. Please forward them to

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"Professor Production" is available to answer your questions. Please forward any questions to