How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
When you are thinking about getting people into your presentation environment, do remember to follow appropriate regulations. If you fail to follow the law, you may end up in court with disgruntled attendees or the police prosecuting you for your lack of attention to this important area.
Do also note that, whilst there is much commonality, regulations vary across borders and that if you are working in a new country it can be worth checking that you are not breaking any regulations in what you do there.
All public venues will have constraints on the maximum number of people who can assemble there. This is largely based on the speed at which people can get out in the case of fire. Do take note of this. It is usually a very low risk, but can have an extremely high impact.
Regulations may also require you to point out fire exits and procedures at the start of your presentation. It can be helpful to put a slide in your presentation to help remind you of this (you may also use this to alert people to smoking rules in the building). Also, of course, find out about fire procedures beforehand.
Fire can be caused by electrical problems, and overloading supplies or using unsafe equipment can be a source of hazard.
Access to the room from street-level should be reasonably possible for attendees in wheelchairs or with other mobility problems. There also needs to be space for them in the seating area and access to toilets and other amenities.
You may need to provide for people with sight or hearing problems, for example ensuring large lettering on slides and handouts, making space for them at the front of the room and using a microphone and hearing loop.
Generally, it is best to check for disabilities before the event if you can, so you can prepare any special arrangements.
Food service is covered by the law. If you feed people something that makes them unwell, then you may be liable. Ensure food that affects allergies and diets are clearly labelled, especially those that may contain nuts. Even falsely telling a vegetarian that food does not contain meat can get you into trouble. Ensure that your food supplier is a reputable source which will safely carry liability. This means no 'home made' food unless you are certain that this will not cause any problems.
There are a host of regulations around all kinds of other areas, from the safety of the people attending the event to the use of chemicals and various devices that could be considered hazardous in your presentation.
Even in interactions with the audience you can run into trouble if they feel harassed or insulted in any way.
The bottom line is to know the rules and those for which you are liable. Then take steps to ensure you comply.
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