Change of Command – Virtually Perfect

October 30, 2020

During the pandemic, we have been impacted on day-to-day tasks and ways to conduct business especially in the meetings and events industry. Face to face engagements produces excellent collaboration opportunities. In this time, we have had to adjust the way we conduct our meetings and events. The number one alternative is virtual events.

For any event, planning is a critical part of the success of the event. We had to establish the vision and objectives while ensuring integrity of the traditions and technology challenges we faced. Change of commands are filled with honor and traditions. We were faced with how we were going to conduct a change of command in a pandemic. The vision for the change of command was to create a broadcast like room with multiple camera views to accommodate each participant while social distancing and area for the reading of the change of command. Our other task, it needed to be visually appealing for in person and webcasting participants.

The number one hurdle in producing a virtual event is the technology that supports the effort. We identified the virtual platform we were to use. Explored the opportunities for successes and failures. Leading up to the event, we conducted several dry runs and formal rehearsals with the respective parties participating. This was to ensure the equipment used was able to support the requirements and script included personal and technical queues to understand the flow of events.

Some elements of a traditional change of command was not included to accommodate the restrictions set forth by federal, state and Department of Defense. We did not have the color guard, side boys or large number of guests to observe this occasion. We were limited to no more than ten individuals. We had the MC, guest of honor, outgoing and incoming commander, two AV techs, wives of the incoming and outgoing commander and the photographer. It truly was the bare minimum.

My responsibility is to plan for the unexpected and be comfortable in making on the spot decisions to meet the needs of the vision and objectives. We had to remain open, able to pivot and offer positive solutions to obtain the overall objectives. We created the “broadcast” look by using black backdrop panels behind the participants so they would not be “washed out” with the standard grayish – taupe colored walls. The area where the flags were placed also needed the black backdrop. We provided black linen and gold overlays to enhance the look of the event. We also provided clear plastic covers for the pages so the pages could not be heard with the audio. Cameras and microphones need to be purchased. These are just some of the areas where we had to pivot to produce a stellar online event.

With the dedication of the team, the command was able to create its first virtual change of command… virtually perfect!

written by Cindy Barner

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