An open house event is a great way to unveil a finished project and generate some positive PR for your team. Earlier we offered some tips on holding a great open house (How to Hold a Great Open House), but before you finalize your plans, read through this list of don’ts to be sure you haven’t become your own worst enemy.
1 – Surprise affected users with the finished product. This is a recipe for disaster, because you won’t be able to do damage control if something is amiss. Did users think the software would have a different interface, or were they expecting their new equipment to be quieter? Always walk these folks through the project before the open house, so you can understand and address any concerns privately.
2 – Try to get guests to imagine what the final project will look like. If your schedule shifts back for any reason, change the date for your open house so it occurs after everything is finished. Not only will stakeholders have a tough time picturing the completed project, there’s a good chance they’ll use it as an opportunity to suggest changes or voice concerns.
3 – Hold the event offsite. Unless you’re able to bring the fruits of your efforts with you—a new software platform, small pieces of equipment, etc.—you’ll miss the benefits of an open house if you don’t allow guests to walk through the affected area(s). Some areas might remain off-limits, but do your best to allow passersby to peek through hallway windows so they can admire your handiwork.
4 – Schedule the event too late in the day. You want to entice as many guests as possible, not see how few people you need to greet. Depending on the organization, your open house might do well in the late afternoon or even over the lunch hour.