What We Learned from Proper-Distanced Events – Part 3 of 5

This is the third of five parts on setting up proper-distanced events. While focusing on storytelling, the information applies to any performing arts or proper-distanced event. Our blog as well as our proper-distanced house concerts with rental of recordings are wonderful sources of information and entertainment.


  • Part 1 – Distancing & Spacing – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Sanitation & Other Safety Measures – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – Test Runs & Early Set-Ups – TODAY
  • Part 4 – Relief to Potential Audience
  • Part 5 – Audience Isolation Behaviors

People are used to Sound Checks the day of the live event…but a Test Run several weeks before are crucial when re-phasing from virtual to live.

You don’t want to figure out the routine and look the day of the event. Have your stopwatch ready to find out how long it takes to set-up. Remember that it could take shorter if you have help (still keep properly-distanced) as well as longer for the first time testing out the placement of everything.

Time flies when you have a show to put on. You want to start on time. Or at least within five minutes after the start time. Proper-distancing naturally takes a longer time for people to get to their seats due to more lines.

Be watchful and actually set-up the space to solve the following:

  • Any areas that could be bottle-neck areas for crowds of people and how to stretch out and guide people in those locations
  • Placement of visual cues for people to find stage/seating for the event
  • Places for signage, even repeating the same signage at key points
  • Location(s) of sanitation table(s) with hand sanitizer, disinfectant, etc.
  • Distances of electricity outlets – inside or outside – and making sure you have long enough extension cords as well as surge protectors that work
  • Ways to cover cords for the safety of performers/volunteers/audience when walking around – such as large outdoor mats/rugs
  • Easy place for people to find bottled water – whether given or sold
  • Practicing of how to do assigned seating for individuals/households – small 1-foot wooden stakes with last names, taped names on back of chairs with last names, etc.
  • Location of Pre-packaged refreshments for people to take home to eat (NOT on location), if offered

You need to figure out how people will enter the area – no matter if it is outdoors or indoors.

With our re-phased proper-distanced House Concerts, we needed to use the Executive Director’s backyard.

A narrow “gauntlet” exists to the right of the garage to enter the yard. If people arrived at the same time, this could be a danger zone of bottle-necking and potential problem with proper-distancing. Thus, we used the wooden stakes (as mentioned in Part 2), and pounded them in 6 feet apart. Each wooden stake was 3 feet long so we had two extra that worked as a quick 6-foot measuring tool. You can use measuring tape or two yard sticks as other measuring guides.

Now, wooden stakes combined with signage reminds people what they already know. We can all be a little forgetful.

While testing out where to place items, equipment, and signage, take pictures as well as video.

We decided that not every wooden stake needed a sign. You have too much signage…and none of them get read.

However, make sure your most important reminders are at the beginning, middle, and the end of “the path” no matter if outdoors or indoors. Always think “the power of three” for signs.

Debate if you want your sanitation to be at the front/beginning of the path or closer to the gathering area.

We chose to have it closer to the gathering area. This allows us to keep a better eye on it and possible for people to re-apply hand sanitizer, if wished. When indoors, people usually have sanitizer in the lobby area where no one can miss it rather than inside the stage area.

Please, please, please test out your electricity cords and outlets.

Connect lights and click the switches on and off. Every so often, the outlets do not work! You thought you had two or four to work with and find out that only one works. As we have sound, trio box lights, and two video cameras at any one proper-distanced event, we need all outlets and be confident that all will be well during the event.

We had two surge protectors. We tested out one of the surge protectors for our sound and lights. We…forgot to test the other surge protector needed for the two video cameras. Luckily, those cameras were charged up, but how embarrassing. Never assume. We also discovered the value of having at least one more than what you think you need. For example, are you planning on two 100′ electrical cords? Have a third. You plan on two surge protectors? Have a third.

You got this. Test, adjust, and adapt.

We will share more in Part 4 on what to do after taking pictures and videos of this Test Run so as to educate your potential audience members.

You can make this live event happen. Think with logic and love. Enjoy the energy from a proper-distanced event.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Join us for our proper-distanced house concerts such as with Nannette Watts in West Jordan, UT on September 18, 2020…or get the recording afterwards.

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Story Crossroads fosters creative and compassionate communities through the art of storytelling. 501(c)(3)

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