Who’s ready for some very relevant talk about stage size? That’s right, on this week’s Whiteboard Wednesday, we’re tackling this exciting, and somewhat complex, topic. So, choosing the stage you want for your event can be dreadful. Should you get a small one even though you have a lot of keynote speakers? Should you make it intimate? Or should you go for something big and spectacular for the sake of showmanship?

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Well, that is a lot of questions. But here at Endless, we love nothing more than to help you answer them! This is why today we welcome our amazing host Stephanie Jayko, a stage, production and event manager. Stephanie is here to tell you everything you need to consider upon choosing the stage size of your event. Are you ready? Press play, it’s Whiteboard Wednesday time!

stage size

What Stage Size Should I Use For My Event? – Video Transcription

Hey, everyone. I’m Stephanie Jayko, CSEP with Knock Out Productions, here for another Whiteboard Wednesday. Today, we’re going to talk about staging and what size should your stage be for your event. We’re going to talk about some different things and different people and different sizes and stuff like that. But there’s a big question out there at the very beginning of all of this. When you start thinking about what’s going in my room, what’s happening with my event, and the question comes up, what size should my stage be? How tall should it be? How big should it be? And there’s a lot of different things that go into planning how big your stage should actually be.

Stage Size: First Things First

And the first and foremost is your room size. How big is your room? How tall are your ceilings, how wide is the room, what’s happening inside of it, and how much space do you have?

There’s a big thing about keeping your stage the correct size for the size of your room. Because if you have a giant room and you have a very small stage, it’s going to look kind of funny. And vice versa. If you have a very small room and a very big stage, it can become overwhelming very, very fast. So the first thing you want to figure out is how big is your room. How much space do you have, and what is going to happen on that stage so that you can make sure it’s the right size. So once you kind of figure out exactly the right size for your stage, then you kind of get into how tall is your room. How tall does your stage need to be in relation to the height of your room?

Is It Tall Enough?

So that’s a funny question though that a lot of people run into. Okay, I have 18-foot ceilings, I have 25-foot ceilings, I have giant ceilings in a warehouse, in a giant convention center, or whatever it is. But sometimes, you get into a ballroom in a hotel or in a corporate meeting space somewhere and you have chandeliers in that room. And those chandeliers have a bottom that is actually lower than the ceiling height. Which means your clearance height is actually lower than your ceiling. And sometimes, if you ask your representative from the venue, how tall are my ceilings, they’re going to give you the actual ceiling height, not necessarily that height of the chandeliers. So you do want to ask that question, what is my clearance to the bottom of the chandeliers because that’s going to make a difference.

You don’t want your person on the stage or your people on the stage, your talent, your CEO, your speaker, your keynote, whatever, standing on a stage that you’re planning for the ceiling height. And your chandeliers are four feet below that and now, their head might be closer to that chandelier than you want it. Or it’s in your picture frame when you’re getting photos or video or IMAG or anything like that. And all of a sudden, you have this chandelier sort of peeking into your photo frame and into your camera frame there. So that’s definitely a question you want to ask is how low do the chandeliers come in, so that you can adjust the height of your stage to be able to offset that. So that’s kind of a tricky one that people don’t necessarily think about, so definitely think about your chandeliers in a room if they’re there.

Stage Size: Levels Matters, People!

Does your stage have multiple levels in your design, whether you’re working with the client design, if you have an event designer, a production designer, whatever that might be, is the design multilevel? Is the functionality multilevel? Do you have stairs that come down on the stage? What’s happening on that stage with the different levels and places? Do you have multiple stages, like satellite stages over here or different pieces or areas or something like that? What do those look like? Do they have multiple levels? Is one shorter than the other? Those definitely make a difference because if you need different levels, your highest one is going to have to be your benchmark so that you can figure out how low the other levels go.

Consider The People

Let’s see, what else can we tell you about levels and heights? People coming on and off stage. How many people do you have coming on and off stage? What are they doing? Do they need to come on and off stage from the front? Can it all be from the back? If everybody’s from the back, you can do different things as far as height-wise because you’re not watching them come on and off stage. You can have a staircase that is a four-foot staircase, an eight-foot staircase. That’s a little high, but I’m just saying, you could do a lot higher stages if everyone’s coming on and off from backstage. Because you’re not watching them and you’re not watching the time go as they’re walking up and down the stages. But if they’re coming up from the front, you probably don’t want a four or five-foot stage that you’re going to have to watch them walk up unless we’re doing something very grandiose like the Oscars and we want that big entrance. So that’s something to think about too.

Everybody Sit Down, Please. Or Stand.

The Standing/Sitting Dilemma Matters For Stage Size

What does your room seating look like? Well, before we even talk about that, let’s back up a second and talk about, are they being seated or are they standing? What are your guests doing? Are they coming in for a concert where they’re likely standing in front of a stage, where you’ve got a pit sort of situation going on? Are they getting up and moving around, so they’re going to look at the stage from a standing point where their eye level is actually higher? Or are they sitting? Is it a general session? Is it a meeting? A dinner where everyone is seated and eye level is actually much lower? So they’re going to have to gaze differently if they’re standing or sitting. You want to make sure that your stage height is appropriate for the people that are going to be onstage to be at the correct level for your audience’s eyesight level. So that’s something to be to be mindful of as well.

The Seating Layout

And then we can talk about, are you seating the room, if they’re seating, are you seating it longways or wide ways? Longways or wide way. That sounds funny, but it’s actually a really big consideration when you think about it. If you’re seating deep, long in a room where it’s kind of a corridor, you want to make sure that you’re having a taller stage because if you sort of see here, the longer your room is, the farther away your last person is sitting. And they’re going to have to see up over so many people’s heads and it’s got to be way far away so your stage wants to be higher so that you can actually see the people on it and what’s going on on it. If you’re seating a shorter room, the stage doesn’t have to be quite as high because people don’t have to see over as many people and to actually get to see what’s going on, on that stage. Likewise, if you’re seating the room wide this way, then you’re going to get into that shorter distance depending on how many rows you’re seating.

Repeater Screens

As well as if you get a lot further, if your room is really seriously deep, then you’re actually going to want to do what’s called repeater screens. You’re going to want to use IMAG screens that are actually hanging several different lengths back within your room so that these people way back here can actually see what’s going on, on this stage when it gets too tall to be able to continue making that high enough for those people in the way back to see. So, definitely, too deep of a room you’re going to want to use repeater screens and not keep making your stage higher. All of a sudden, you have a 10-foot stage and nobody can see and these front people are going to be craning their necks pretty hard to see if that’s the case. So, definitely, a finicky thing there, but something to keep in mind as you’re planning your stage.

The Set Influences Stage Size

What else can we talk about? Big set changes. That’s a big one. Is there furniture or set pieces or different things coming on and off your stage? How are they getting on and off that stage? If you’ve got stagehands who have to move big furniture up and down and up and down, a taller stage is going to be rough for them to be able to do that. And it’s going to take more time if they have to go up and down stairs or if they have to lift things way over their heads to get things on and off stage. A lot of times, stages don’t have a great big backstage area on the deck where you can store a lot of big furniture. So it has to come down off of the stage every time something moves, which definitely means you have to take into consideration how high that stage is.

That also is going to make a difference. Maybe you do want all of that furniture and all of those scenic pieces to stay on the stage even when they come backstage. Because they’re going to have to go on and off a lot, which means you’re going to have to figure out how big you want your stage and your backstage. You’re going to have to create that space and that footprint much larger to be able to accommodate that. So keep that in mind as you’re figuring out how much staging you need as well.

Lighting & Rigging 

Let’s see. Oh, yes. This is a big one. Rigging and lighting and sound and stuff like that. That’s all going to be hanging in the air up here. So when you think about that, that’s all got a level that heads kind of get in the way of. So when you’re thinking about rigging and sound and lighting, are you actually hanging it from the ceiling? Are we rigging it? Or are we ground supporting it? Is it actually on trusses that are ground supported and weighted on the ground so that it’s not going to play into a headspace area? If you are rigging, which a lot of larger rooms have the ability to rig, you have to figure out how tall your truss is or how low your truss is going to hang. Again, like with the chandeliers, with all of your lights and sound equipment, projectors and all of that, where is that all sitting in your line of sight for your cameras and how does that play in your headspace with your speaker?

Lower, Lower, Higher, Higher…

Because you want your stage to be low enough so that, that doesn’t look funny right above your speaker’s head. When you are ground supporting, you have to think about it the other way. How tall is your truss going to be? What’s the top right of that truss and where are your lights going to be? You got to think about your lighting and how it’s hitting your people on your stage. And how tall are they, how tall is your stage, and then how tall is your person on top of that stage. And is their eyesight line going to be right in line with that top light or not? Because you want to make sure that you’re not blinding your people because of the different heights that a four-foot stage plus a six-foot person is 10 feet and if your top light on the ground supported truss is also at 10 feet, you’re going to be right in their eyes. You want to make sure there’s a little bit of difference between the height of light on a ground supported truss and your speaker’s eyes.

So you want to make sure that your stage is the correct height for that as well. You can also fix the height of a truss if you have the ability to get longer truss and higher truss for that, you can remedy that, that way, but a lot of times, it’s a matter of lowering your stage by six or eight inches and you’d be okay there. So just something to take into consideration when you’re doing that. Otherwise, we’re sometimes blinding our talent and that’s never good.

Screens

How far off the ground are the bottom of your screens? That’s also an aesthetic thing. When you have IMAG screens on either side of your presenter or behind your presenter or your entertainment, you don’t want the screens to be above their head necessarily. Because then, they get kind of dwarfed, unless that’s part of your event design, which your designer or your producer is going to be able to speak to that. But if the stage is too low and your screens are too high, it kind of looks funny and people are looking up in different ways and not being able to see the whole picture in one view and vice versa. You don’t want the screens to be below your presenter’s feet. Because if they’re below your presenter’s feet, you’re kind of making a picture that does one of these things. You’re looking at your speaker here and your screens here. So where is your stage? Where are your screens? Are they sort of in-between? So just sort of figuring out that puzzle of what’s the best height of your stage versus what your other set pieces and your screens are doing.

Let’s Talk (Height) Numbers In Stage Size

So just kind of figuring out that puzzle there. And we’ve got a lot of different common heights for staging. They start all the way at six or eight inches. It’s pretty much a little platform on the ground just for smaller groups, for more intimate feeling stages and events where you’ve got a small group of people. You don’t really need somebody to be way up high so that lots of people can see them.

You just need them to be in a little bit more prominent a situation, lift them off the ground a little bit, that’s that six or eight-inch height. Then you go up to 16, 24, 32 and all the way up to 40, 48, 40 some odd in there. It also depends on your staging company and what heights they have. So you can always talk to your staging company about what different heights of risers and decking they have to create different heights in your stage and how big that looks.

Stage Size: Conclusions

So lots of different things to consider when you’re talking about size and scale and scope of your room versus your stage. How tall your stage is for your set and how tall it is for your audience. How tall it needs to be for your entertainment and your speakers. So, so many different things that happen and go into figuring out exactly how tall or how wide or how big or how deep your stage needs to be. Lots and lots of information to take into consideration when designing that stage for you.

But I know a lot of different people have tricky things happening and sometimes, it doesn’t really work out all that well for you. So have you ever had a situation where your stage size wasn’t right for your room or your event? I want to hear that story. I want to hear what happened and how did you deal with it. Throw on a comment down below, right there. Tell me all about it. I want to hear. And make sure that you are subscribing and liking our videos here because we do all of these every Wednesday right here on Whiteboard Wednesday. So keep in touch with us, guys. Keep all of your things going on and have some great events. We’ll see you next week. Bye, guys.

Resources

Create an Experience via Innovative Stage Design Ideas, and More

Types Of Event Rigging You Must Know – Whiteboard Wednesday

Seating Layouts: How To Think Like A Stadium to Make Your General Sessions More Unique

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Will Curran

Author Will Curran

Information junkie, energetic, and work-a-holic are just some of the words we can use to describe Will Curran. Aside from spending 20 out of 24 hours a day working as the Chief Event Einstein of Endless Events, you can catch Will ordering a chai latte or watching The Flash with his cats. He is also well known for his love of all things pretzels.

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