A compelling speech or powerful presentation is often the highlight of an event, but what goes on behind the scenes can have a big impact on the performance the audience sees on stage.
Green rooms are a sanctuary where speakers can relax, gather their thoughts, enjoy refreshments, and connect with fans or fellow presenters. We spoke with event organizers to get their inside tips on what — and what not — to do to create the optimal green room experience.
Make Speakers Feel Special
Green rooms are all about making sure your speakers feel taken care of and comfortable before they go out on stage. “Ask speakers if they have any preferences," recommends event planner Lany Sullivan. “When you are working with celebrities they usually have a food and beverage list, but not all speakers will be at that level and most will be grateful that you even asked what they like or prefer."
Even if you can't provide everything on their list, at least one or two items is always appreciated.
Create an Inviting Space
When setting up a green room, Sullivan says it is important to know four key pieces of information:
- What the space will be used for?
- When will the space be used?
- How will the space be used?
- How many people will use the space throughout the event?
Heidi Badeaux, a green room server at the House of Blues in New Orleans, works with professional musicians who spend an inordinate amount of time in green rooms. Badeaux's advice is to give people what they want, whether a space to prep or simply peace and quiet.
“Give people space," Badeaux says. “There isn't much of it on the road—or even in some green rooms."
Assemble a Reliable Team
Setting up the perfect green room is just the beginning. The green room should be managed during the event by a trustworthy, personable, detail-oriented team member, Sullivan says.
“Your team member will handle all the green room duties, working with venue staff, providing for speaker needs, managing the green room schedule, and, of course, ensuring that your speaker is on stage on time," she explains.
A team member should always be ready to handle any concerns, questions or issues that your speaker has. And discretion and privacy are also important factors to consider.
Badeaux learned the lesson of privacy the hard way. One night before Billy Idol took the stage at House of Blues, he was getting ready with his wardrobe assistant in the green room. Badeaux forgot to lock a second door to the green room, and an audience member made her way through the unlocked door into Idol's room. “Lesson learned, I will never leave that door unlocked during a show again!" she says.
Chances are your speakers aren't rock stars, but Sullivan stresses that the most important factor is to create a calm, welcoming environment.
“When setting up a green room, event hosts, creators and planners need to remember that it's all about serving your speakers," Sullivan says. “The green room is a VIP experience, so make it feel like one."