Ideas & Insights
Stage Management Tips
Stage Management Tips
Stage management tips you say? Sounds like you’ve stepped up to the plate. You’re likely reading this because you have never done this before. Fear not! Here are a list of things that will totally freak you out of the job help you absolutely nail it!
Own your role
Being the stage manager means you’re the “man behind the curtain”, so make sure you’re in before everyone else, and out after everyone else. People are relying on you, and you should be on top of everything at all times. If someone is behind schedule, they’ll be asking you what’s up so make sure you know where they might be if they’re not where they should be. There’s an ABC rule for this: Always Be Contactable
Don’t let pressure get in the way of politeness
Stage management calls for cool-headedness. This also means don’t let the power get to your head, don’t swear, don’t lash out if your MC was daydreaming or off having a smoke and are late by a minute (save that for later, when no one is around). Your job is to be cool, calm and collected and to permeate this through the event team. Be firm but nice, people will respond positively and success will ensue. This is one of the more overlooked stage management tips.
Techknow? Tech Yes!
Know your tech. It’s unavoidable. Stage management requires use of radio communications, you’ll need to cue lights, you’ll need to cue audio, band, speakers, visual displays, extras and effects, and all of this requires the use of technology. While you probably won’t need to literally bring the volume of the speaker up each time (there should be an AV guy for that), you will want to know what is happening. This helps understand the process and troubleshoot, it means you can fill in if necessary, and puts you at ease should anything go south and you have to step in. No one else is going to step in.
Speak the lingo
Stage management requires fast thinking, fast note-taking, fast transcription of running orders for changing on the fly (which may happen) as well as any other number of things. Blocking language is essential as a form of shorthand in the stage management business, as it allows you to make detailed technical writing easy. Learn the stage terms you need to accurately convey your message (this makes you sound super professional and experienced too). Learn, learn, learn!
Know your contacts
Gather a contact list of EVERYONE prior to the event. Agents, bands, MC, caterer, AV tech, security, venue management, speakers, client etc… and keep that list close by! You are going to need it, and if you don’t need it by some miraculous stroke of fate, then someone else is going to come to you for it. If you don’t know everyone on your team, you’re not leading anyone.
Preparation is everything
You know the old saying “measure twice, cut once,”? Well imagine the wood keeps growing and shrinking randomly after you measure it each time. Welcome to stage management! Make sure you have an intimate knowledge of all logistics including rehearsal schedules, bump in/out for everyone (whether they are loading gear or not), contact numbers, names, load in information, tech riders, running orders etc. Never been to this venue before? Google it. Inspect it prior, even if it’s a new room in a familiar venue. Keep your stage manager’s kit handy ( if you don’t know what this is, ask us! ) Stage management tips mean nothing if you’re not prepared.
Communication is also everything
Stage management involves wrangling heaps of people. Have you ever tried to encourage a cat to do anything but you couldn’t use food as a motivator? There you go. Good notes are the food in this instance. People love clear instructions, and this is no different when you’re running the show. Stay clear and succinct on your comms, leave notes for the band, AV, MC and whoever else is a key player in the event. Write everything in capitals, if your handwriting is bad then type and print.
Your role is not an audience facing role, you’ll be tucked away behind the AV desks somewhere with a headset on. It will probably be dark and hard to see, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with lax presentation! Dress as if you were a guest, you are your own advertisement and people don’t look at jeans and a T-shirt thinking “That’s the guy we’ll get to do our million dollar show!”. As far as stage management tips go, this is important. Image is everything after all! This applies pre-show as well; keep it professional in all meetings beforehand.
Just like the first person to suggest skydiving; no one else is going to do that if you don’t. In between showtimes, smile, laugh, crack a joke or two (not at others’ expenses though), and when it’s business time people will be in good spirits. Build a good relationship with everyone involved. Don’t be afraid to have a laugh at yourself, you’re not saving lives here but you are making them better and everyone likes being happy so lead the way!
Stage management is a huge job and these are just some tips to help you along once you know the details of your event. Have a chat with us about your event today and we’ll work to really make it shine!