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Controlling The Crowds

Events bring together a diverse group of people, consider the emotional state of a crowd. How can you spot the signs before trouble begins?

Shanelle Barrett avatar
Written by Shanelle Barrett
Updated over a week ago

Event organizers are responsible for crowd control and management at their event and there are many things to consider with crowd control and different ways to manage a crowd depending on your event and venue.

Firstly, you need to know your venue and its capacity, it is critical to choose a space that is adequate to handle the expected attendance.

  • What are the maximum legal limits for the venue?

  • For some events, knowing your minimum limits is also important. A large space with a small number of people can have a negative impact on the experience and perception of an event. 

  • Will your evacuation plans be suitable for the numbers onsite?

  • By being clever with your venue you can make the venue/event feel busy and full without compromising the safety of those at your event.

  • Creative event layouts and use of props.

  • Increase or decrease the perception of space VS the reality of the space.

  • In venues with fixed seats, seating is only allowed in the fixed seats. Sitting or standing in the aisles or placing additional chairs in the venue is strictly prohibited.

  • Think about event hot spots and predicted crowd movements.

Managing and tracking your numbers

Ticketed and pre-sale events allow you to be able to plan and know what your numbers are looking like. It also allows you to be able to stop sales once your maximum numbers have been reached.  

If you are a non-ticketed event, have you thought of how you will track your numbers to ensure you don’t go over your capacity? 

  • For events that are expected to fill a venue, the use of entry tickets to track attendance is strongly encouraged.

  • Free tickets or programs in a quantity equal to the available seating can be handed out at the door (remember to remove tickets to account for ushers, performers that will be sitting in the audience, etc.)

  • When the entry tickets/programs are gone the ushers must close the venue doors and turn people away.

  • Handheld counters may also be used as a control device.

  • Overcrowding violations may result in cancellation of the event and/or disciplinary action.

  • Controlling access to the event to prevent overcrowding.


Security is an important part of any event to manage crowds and something that you should work through with your security provider to ensure that you have thought of every area of your event.  Some key points to consider when working through security are:

  • Resources - physical security team – how many will you require? Is the company able to have a backup should you need it at late notice?

  • Do you have a person to security ratio?

  • Where do you put them to be effective?

  • What controls and power do they have - over staff/attendee. And what are their escalation points?

  • What briefings do you have with them, what do you include?

  • Other forms of security such as fencing around certain parts of your event to keep people in or keep people out.

  • Visual cues for segregation (i.e wristbands) for segregation like R18/VIP/etc.

  • Have you produced an accreditation plan so you know who can go where at your event?

  • Have you let the local police know about your event and briefed them? Do they have easy and direct access to the venue AND to the situation at hand? (the situation may not be by the doors etc. so think easy pathways to navigate them there).

  • Does the event and/or do the police have specific processes?

  • Know your crowd - Alcohol heavily involved/children around/rowdy vs calm will have an influence on the security numbers that you require.

Seated venue considerations

If you have a seated venue the use of ushers helps to direct patrons to find their seats and also the exits when required. Ushers should be visually identifiable (usher name tags, common shirts, etc.).  It is important that aisles are kept clear and unobstructed at all times. No sitting or standing is permitted in aisles or egress paths to the exits. Exits need to be kept clear and unobstructed at all times and assist in facilitating evacuation of the venue in the event of an emergency. 

Ensure your MC knows to make an announcement immediately prior to the start of your event to notify occupants of the location of exits to be used in the case of a fire or other emergency and advising occupants that if the fire alarm sounds they must evacuate from the building.

Suggested announcement wording is:

May I have your attention please?  Please note that emergency exits are located (...announce/point out specific locations for this venue...).  In the event of an emergency or fire alarm, please proceed quickly and calmly out the nearest emergency exit.

Lost kids or vulnerable person

For any event you need to make provisions for people that go missing, get lost or feel vulnerable.

  • Is there a place for them to go to for assistance - is it clear/easy to find?

  • Are there procedures in place to follow, especially when working with children? Who will look after the children, how will it be announced etc.

  • Is your event team educated to deal with this situation? How can they be better educated to feel more confident in dealing with the situation?

  • Is there a safe word for your team or attendees to say to someone if they are feeling worried? 

In addition, it is also worth considering the emotional state of a crowd. How can you spot the signs before trouble begins?  If the weather is bad, how will that impact the crowd and where will they go? 

It is important to collect data at each event so you can review and improve and refine your processes and plans to match. 

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