When staging a practical joke you must plan the many details carefully. You certainly don't want something that is supposed to be fun to turn sour. If you plan the joke as carefully as you plan all other details of the event you will find that the benefits far outweigh the risks. I use the following criteria when planning an event:
1. The joke should not be physically dangerous in any way.
2. It should not be humiliating.
3. It should have good intent, i.e., you should be able to laugh with the group that was fooled and not at them. Most of the time key insiders are involved in the idea anyway.
4. It should be creative. If you faithfully stick to the first three criteria you can be assured that your jokes will be well received. Item number four can be fudged with little or no problem.
For instance, the idea of a clumsy waiter is not particularly creative, but when you have a talented actor playing the part, your biggest complaint will be that someone's side hurts from laughing too hard. Make sure you only deal with professional and experienced characters. Even if you plan the joke carefully, once the person or group is "on stage" they must be able to ad lib and adjust to whatever situation arises.
On large productions you will need an on-site person to coordinate the action. The characters presented here are only three of the most popular gags you can pull at a meeting. You are limited only by your imagination and budget. If you truly want your participants to have a memorable experience, then give them something special to remember.