Have a briefing
Brief everyone an hour before the action start on what is expected on the day. Give agendas and scripts to those who forgot to bring theirs. Call out all the roles so everyone is clear about what they need to do. Explain where the toilets, fire escapes, prayer rooms and all that other important stuff is located. People will stop them and ask. Make their job easy. Lastly, thank these amazing people for their efforts. We are nothing without them.
Who is in the room?
Have people count the numbers of folks in the room. Make a note of your diversity. A room full of wealthy pensioners, on an issue that affects working class young people, is an obvious turn-out problem.
Have a team of volunteers take photos of the action. These can be used for media work, your website and funding applications.
Have someone reporting live across social media. It not only creates a social media buzz, it has often helped me get wider media follow up from national press.
How to deal with unwanted guests
People will turn up to your action who are not there to support you. You may find yourself getting flustered by this. Big Bird has shown up shouting fudge the system. You wanna tell Big Bird to fudge off. Resist the urge to empower annoying behaviour.
On the day, have turn-out captains hand out a one pager explaining expected behaviour and why. If there is a peaceful protester, have someone bring them a cup of tea and talk to them. It is usually enough to quite people down, leave, or quietly protest with their fudge the system t-shirt on.
If someone is being threatening, have security remove them. Never put yourself in danger.
Let small bad things happen
Some of my small bad happenings include Paddington Bears going to the wrong picnic, missing ours completely. A burst pipe destroyed a venue 48 hours before a-six-month-in-the-making, 80-person training. My personal favourite was when Hare Krishna’s asked a colleague to stay behind and blend pomegranate juice for 200 people. It made him almost miss our action entirely. His people were not happy at all and they decided to off load their anger on to me. This was all because he did not have a response prepared for when Hare Kirshner’s ask for a favour.
Learn from all of it and know it will be a funny memory one day. At the time you won’t find it funny and that’s ok too. When my colleague did finally show up, my face looked like this:
Just don’t let it spoil the moment. You have all worked too hard. The most impressive teams are the ones who can work through struggle and still be respectful to each other. Be resilient and open enough to adapt to sudden changes. Nothing is perfect so don’t expect your work to be different. Be kinder to yourself, the team and let small bad stuff happen.