Saturday, April 5, 2008

Major Events and Protocol

April 2, 2008

So now we are becoming a regular destination for hosting major sporting events and ever so often we need to be reminded of the rules which should guide us in how protocol is to be observed.

Here are some areas we should pay keen attention to:
- seating plans
- precedence of persons
- invitations
- speeches
- flags

Let’s take our national stadium for example. The Royal Box can seat 87 persons in permanent seats and an additional 14 can be added. The additional seats are to seat the President of the Sporting Federation, heads of government and the specially invited guest of the host.

Special care must be made when seating persons who speak a foreign language, space should be made for a translator; and if there are couples involved, it is customary to separate them, unless they are the hosts. These seating arrangements are also relevant for seating at a dinner table.

Precedence of persons includes official titles and how they are to be used appropriately by the public address announcer. A clear example is the Governor General. He is to be announced as His Excellency the Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall and in the case of the Prime Minister, the Honourable Bruce Golding.

Invitations should be sent at least 14 days in advance of the event and should bear directions to the venue, parking information, allotment of tickets, number of seats to be occupied and dress code. In addition the RSVP is to be used so the organizers can know the response to the invitations and if allowed, how many guests will attend.

Long speeches have no place at a major sporting event; however when mentioning dignitaries they should be mentioned in hierarchical and descending order.

Finally, flags are symbolic of a country’s honour. The colours on the flags are significant as there is generally a story. The Jamaican flag has black, green and gold which refer to the people, land and sunshine. When there are two flags it is to be placed to the left of the audience and the other flag on the right.

This is just one element of event hosting that should be placed as high priority, so I thought I would mention protocol first; however there is so much more to talk about.

I could not complete this week without congratulating the organizers of Boys and Girls Championships 2008 for the well organised four days of spectacular management of an event. It is not hard, so we do not always have to seem like we are starting over each time we host a major event.

I ask that the list of volunteers be looked at seriously and some training and development should be coordinated for them to be kept aware of events hosting in addition to their specific responsibilities at these events. Next time I will look more closely at planning as a major tool for hosting an event.

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Note: What was the JFF thinking? On Wednesday, March 26 patrons were pushed and shoved at the main entrance to the Independence Park Complex, Arthur Wint Drive, because somehow the Jamaica Football Federation forgot to place barriers to be used as walkways. I ask that they return to Plan A.