How to Run the Evening Program of a Gala

by Barbie Carpenter

Planning a gala might take months, or even years, of planning, but executing the gala on the big night is just as important. Whether you're honoring a special group of people, recognizing an organization or raising money for a worthy cause, a gala needs to provide enough substance and entertainment for its guests. As the host of the gala, it is your job to maneuver gala guests through different events and ensure they are always entertained.

Coordinate with volunteers and caterers. Ensure everyone working the gala is on the same page and understands the time line you have created. Take any questions before the gala begins to eliminate any confusion among the staff. To successfully run the gala, you need a knowledgeable team to help you.

Welcome guests at the beginning of the evening. Introduce yourself--give your name as well as your title or affiliation. For example, if you're the president of the organization hosting the gala, tell your guests that. Keep your speech brief--preview the event and tell guests that they're in for an enjoyable evening.

Move guests from event to event. The gala likely includes a number of events, from a cocktail hour to a seated dinner to speeches or awards. It is your job to move guests from event to event. You don't want to be at the microphone all night, but you do need to keep the event moving according to your time line. Speak up when it's time to switch events.

Thank your sponsors. Most galas rely on donations from individuals or corporations. Acknowledge each sponsor for its contribution. The gala's program might list the sponsors, but it's thoughtful to give a shout out to each sponsor as well. Simply naming the sponsor or asking the individual or employees to stand will be appreciated by your gala guests.

Encourage participation in gala events. If you're hosting a silent auction, for example, step up to the microphone every 20 or 30 minutes to highlight a hot auction item. If you want guests to get on the dance floor, talk them into it. Keep your comments brief but direct so that guests can make the most of the gala.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.

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