How to Master the Post Event Book Signing and Photo Lineup

For attendees, a photo opportunity or a book signing with the speaker whose keynote just awed and inspired them can be a special way to end an event. Undoubtedly, these are nice ways to provide attendees with a special memento and a few minutes with the speaker.

For event coordinators, however, a photo lineup or book signing can be a logistical nightmare. Lines never seem to move or get any shorter and morph into clumps of people standing around aimlessly. Some people will take longer than their fair share of time with the speaker. Not everyone may get a copy of the speaker’s book or the opportunity to get it signed. Photos may turn out poorly due to lighting or a bad angle, and multiple re-takes will likely be requested. These are familiar scenarios for event planners.

To keep your post-event photo lineup or book signing functional, fun, and moving forward, follow these tips:

Photo line up

Hire a professional digital photographer

This will ensure that the photos come out right the first time. A professional photographer will set up the proper lighting, backdrop, and camera angle. With a professional photographer, there will be fewer (if any) photo retakes. The photos will be of better quality and the line will move more quickly. And attendees will appreciate the service and high-quality photos.

Bonus: Have a photo backdrop with event and sponsor logos printed on it. This will look more professional, and it’s a good way to promote the event.

Assign two people from your team to manage the line

Plan to have at least two ushers tasked only with the job of managing the line. One should manage attendees once they get to the front of the line and one should usher people away after they have taken the photo.

The first usher should instruct people of photo etiquette with the speaker and inform them where they can safely place their bags while taking the photo. After attendees have taken the photo, the second usher should hustle attendees along and inform them how and when they can access the photo. This second usher will also ensure that attendees don’t linger too long with the speaker after the photo has been taken and keep the line steadily moving.

Go one step further for VIP guests

For VIPs do a little something extra by sending them a framed copy of their photo in the mail. Consider engraving the frame with the event and speaker’s name, the date and the event location.

Where previously you could get 100 people through a photo lineup, with this system you’ll get 300 through in the same amount of time. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to successfully managing the dreaded post-event photo lineup like a pro.

Book Signings

Coordinate all plans with the speaker’s team

Remember to maintain clear and open communication with the speaker’s team. Talk over plans to align your’s and the speaker’s expectations, needs, and preferences. It’s important to find out things like, how long the speaker is willing to stay after the event, and how many books are they willing to sign, before the day of the event.

Pro tip: a speakers bureau can help facilitate this discussion.  

It’s also important to determine who is providing the books and how many are to be expected? Sometimes speakers will include an order of books in with their speaking fee, sometimes they will offer a discounted rate, and sometimes you will have to buy the books at retail cost on your own. Discuss and plan all of these details beforehand so there aren’t any surprises on event day.   

Know how many books will be arriving and make sure they arrive on time

Many event coordinators have been disappointed by the number of books they received or didn’t receive on time. Check and double check that your books are arriving. Know exactly how many books are being delivered, and then manage expectations. If the event is relatively small, all attendees might get a book and the chance to have it signed. If the event is a large conference, it’s likely that not everyone will be able to receive a book.

Bring pens!

You’d be surprised how often this small but important detail is forgotten. Sharpies are the standard for many authors. Thick or thin—it’s their preference. But have plenty on hand.

Cut chit-chat to a minimum

Due to time constraints and preserving energy for the speaker, chit-chat during signingother than an introduction and greetingshould be cut to a minimum. Follow photo lineup rule of assigning two ushers to manage the line. Determine beforehand if the schedule and the speaker will permit selfies during the book signing.

Set up the photo lineup or book signing location accordingly

Make sure the photo lineup or book signing is set up in a location that will not block people trying to exit the event and will allow ample space for attendees to form a line. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times this actually isn’t thought through before setting up.