“Everything Is in the Details”: The First Two Weeks of a New Stonie

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What are the first few weeks like for someone who jumps into the events industry full throttle? Gabriela Soltys, who joined One Smooth Stone recently, describes her initial experience at “fast, flexible, exhilarating, and thinking on your feet” — especially after supporting her first event with us. Gabriela, an assistant project coordinator, joins us after working in events and communications at businesses such as Kraft Heinz and Mariano’s.

Gabriela says that the events industry is the perfect place for her. “I love multi-tasking,” she says, “And I like to think out of the box and troubleshoot.” We are happy to accommodate.

Check out the following interview to get a sense of what it’s like to become immersed in the fast-moving world of events, the One Smooth Stone way.

Congratulations on joining One Smooth Stone! Tell me about what you do.

I go onsite and assist with anything that an event producer needs. Whatever a producer or associate producer needs, I do. Lately I have been helping to create show flows, or a complete breakdown of everything that happens at an event, ranging from when the walk-in music happens to when the lights go on.

What happens in the first few days in the life of a new Stonie?

I’ve done a lot of hands-on learning. Before One Smooth Stone got me involved in an event, for my first few days I shadowed the team, listening in on calls with clients, observing the creative process, and experiencing how people do their jobs. By the second week, I was supporting an event for a client.

The event I supported was a company meeting to cover topics ranging from the development of leadership skills to a presentation from the CEO. The client had undergone a recent merger and wanted to give employees a chance to hear how things have been going and to give them a chance to ask questions.

What was the first day of the event like?

The first day was all about setting up: meeting with the hotel staff, meeting with the client’s event planner, and reacting to changes from the client event planner, such as last-minute changes to graphics.

One of my jobs was to make sure everything was where it needed to be. I know that counting tables and chairs for an event does not sound glamorous, but it’s important to do. If you don’t meticulously count all the tables and chairs to make sure you have enough set up, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise when all the guests start arriving. Everything is in the details.

On the first day, I learned quickly how flexible One Smooth Stone is — how you need to know how to react to curveballs. For example, on rehearsal day, our client shared with us some changes to the speaker line-up. And some speakers who were scheduled to rehearse were unable to make the rehearsal session. Naturally, you want all speakers to be able to rehearse, but sometimes a speaker’s schedule changes. So to be flexible, you find another time to meet with the speaker. If the speaker cannot come to you, you go to them and work around their needs, even if you’re meeting with them during a breakfast or meeting break to give them as much preparation as you can.

Being flexible also means changing the show flow to accommodate the addition of last-second speakers who were not on the agenda originally. You find time to rehearse with the new speakers, and, in the case of our event, we re-recorded the voice-over introduction that the audience hears on the loudspeaker when the presenter is walking up to the stage.

So with a new speaker also comes a new presentation to load and prepare, right?

Yes. We had a graphic designer ready to make changes to make the slides consistent, add logos, and make sure someone’s titles are correct. We had to make last-minute slides, too, for new speakers. One of the speakers brought in a new video to kick off the meeting, and we made it work. We are professionals, so of course we want to get the video in time to test it and improve it if possible. But if it’s important to the client, you make things happen no matter what.

What were your impressions of the event as it unfolded?

Having a headset on during the entire event made me realize how much I didn’t know about behind-the-scenes productions. Because I had a headset on, I could hear everyone talking to each other. “Lights on now. Speaker coming up now. Cue the slides now.” I could literally hear the flow between stage manager, lighting crew, tech crew, and producer. Believe me, a lot goes on behind the scenes just for a speaker to walk up on stage flawlessly.

The adjustments we make behind the scenes are never seen by the audience, as it should be. Our audio technician, for example, had to be on the edge of his seat at all times to guarantee that the music matched the walk on of the upcoming speaker. If the speaker was walking too quickly, then he had to cut it short, and fade the music faster than expected. You have to pay attention — if you don’t even for a second, you could ruin a show.

But beyond the technical aspects, my biggest impression was how the event team is a family. You could sense that family atmosphere as the One Smooth Stone team ate with the vendors we hired, such as the lighting crew. Everyone knew each other because they had worked other events. I’d overhear people not just talking shop but also asking each other about their families. We didn’t just work together, we also had fun together.

What words come to mind when you think of your first event experience at One Smooth Stone?

Fast. Flexible. Exhilarating. Thinking on your toes.

Let me give you an example of thinking on your toes: as the end of the event approached, we had three bouquets of flowers ready to present as part of a closing ceremony. We found out, 20 minutes before showtime, that in fact we’d need four bouquets. Thinking on your feet means creating another bouquet by rearranging two smaller ones!

I was exhilarated by the intensity of the event — the coordination of the personnel I was talking about. I love the sound of coordination through the headsets, whether it is about music, lighting, or graphics.

As for fast: everything goes at a fast pace. I can reflect on the event now, but you don’t spend too much time reflecting on anything when the event is going on.

And of course we were flexible by accommodating changing needs.

I am excited to be more involved with events. I look forward to building relationships with all the people involved in making an event happen, such as hotel event planners — and being able to understand the technical details, such as lighting and staging. I am excited about what happens next!

For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing bduffy@onesmoothstone.com

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