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In this issue of Speak Previews, ECG Managing Director of Corporate Events Fabio Sembiante discusses the role of communication in designing and implementing a security plan for events and meetings.

In most cases, corporate events run smoothly and safely. Effective security and its communication help ensure that your event will be one of them.

Events both large and small require a security plan of one type or another – and there are many types. Night security safeguards proprietary information and equipment. Group security coordinates client group movements based on a specific agenda. Detailed security ensures the safety of targeted VIPs and audiences. Restricted access security serves as front-line protection of meeting rooms in public venues. Information technology security hangs invisibly in the air to protect data and access. And as an event ends, a final sweep of meeting rooms makes certain that all discarded notes, reports, and plans are gathered and shredded.

While hotels and conference centers are concerned with client safety, they cannot provide security specifically for your event. A dedicated provider, however, has a vested interest in the welfare of your group and is able to make provisions for its safety.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY

The success of these provisions, however, relies heavily upon effective communication. Not only must the event planner, client, and security supplier define responsibilities and concerns, but they must plan for ongoing contact and communication before and during the event. That contact and communication, moreover, must include a plan for informing attendees of security arrangements – simply but thoroughly.

PLANNER, CLIENT, AND SECURITY

Bring security specialists into the planning phase as early as possible, even before selecting the event location. Their input feeds into venue and agenda decisions and the possible risks either might present.

Detailed and open-line communication in the event planning stage strengthens understanding between the operations team and security. Discussing the nature of the event and its purpose, for example, helps the security provider calculate threat levels and ensure appropriate staffing. Knowing the number and characteristics of attendees enables the design of workable procedures for the group.

Harvest ideas and experiences from the venue management by asking how it or previous clients have dealt with vulnerabilities you have identified. You will be surprised at how much might be forthcoming as well as by how much you would not have known had you not initiated this crucial conversation.

A dedicated security team will identify concerns that may not have occurred to planner or client – setting a rendezvous point, for instance, should an emergency occur. Addressing and resolving intrusions caused by uninvited persons, including competitors. Monitoring cross-traffic in shared venues. Constructing and monitoring unassailable IT structures.

TO ATTENDEES

Communicating the resulting security plan to attendees is critical. Attendees must consider security an ally, not a road-block, and must understand that no one will be allowed to sidestep planned procedures.

Thus attendees must know what to expect as the security group fulfils agreed objectives. They must know that restricted access requires that no one without an ID badge will be allowed entrance to a meeting room, for example, or that no grace will be offered for those who arrive late for an excursion departure.

Importantly, each attendee must be made aware of how to identify security staff members, how to contact them with questions or in an emergency, and what to do in case of fire or other disaster.

Good security measures may be like good manners – you only notice them when they're missing. But when you design, implement, and communicate those measures well, you create a culture of awareness and safety in which your event can proceed in the best possible environment.