Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe“. Planning an event is no different. If you develop a solid plan and stick to it, the actual management of your event will run like clockwork and probably incident free.
So what do you need to include in your event plan? Below are 8 tips that will help you to develop the perfect plan and pull off a successful event:
1. Identify your Event Purpose and Objectives:
The first stage of the event planning process involves identifying the purpose and objectives for your event. Keep it short and simple, by asking yourself the following questions: “Why are we organising this event?” and “What do we want to achieve?” These questions might seem logical, they are important to ask as they ensure that your focus remains on the goal of the event. Also, you can’t achieve a goal if it hasn’t been set. Goal-setting pushes and motivates everyone in your team to dig deep before the event, especially if you are just short of your target numbers.
2. Choosing a Date and Venue:
Choosing the RIGHT date, time and venue for an event is CRITICAL. Depending on the type of event, you could need 4-6 months to plan it. Choosing the date and time requires considerable research as you need to know when your target audience is available. This might seem logical, but you need to take several factors into consideration – like holidays (both annual and religious) and peak industry periods. Then there’s the location… Your venue must be conveniently located and provide the necessary facilities to compliment your event. If not, then it’s unlikely that delegates will travel out of their way, especially if it isn’t during a convenient period of the year.
3. Branding and Marketing your Event:
Branding and marketing your event is a major step. You can have the perfect ideas, with the best line-up of speakers, at the greatest venue but if no one knows about it, no one will arrive! Marketing an event is not so straight forward. The first step involves branding your event. This includes coming up with an event name, a short but effective slogan that describes your event, and also designing a logo. Your event theme must also stand out and be compelling so that it grabs attention and excites people. Once your event branding has been designed, you should research which marketing platforms to use. Marketing isn’t cheap so you need to identify marketing platforms that will give you the best ROI (return on investment). Examples include traditional media, social media, websites, tele-marketing and email marketing. If you have partners helping to sponsor your event, they can also help you to spread the word on their own social media accounts.
4. Create and Assemble a Team:
Successfully hosting an event is a major task and can’t be done alone. You should take the time to carefully select your event team. You need to identify the key people you need to ensure your event is a success. It’s important that you know what each person brings to the table with regards to their skillset and how you can get the most out of them. Your team will include your work colleagues, the speakers, the venue manager, possible sponsors/partners and even volunteers. You need to collaborate freely with your team and it’s important that they are reliable. Communication is key to ensuring that every task of your event is completed.
5. Reach out to Partners and Sponsors for Assistance:
If your company is involved in any partnerships or joint ventures, reaching out to them could be a great way to plan your event and reduce costs. Another great idea is to try getting corporate sponsorship for your events. Partners and sponsors can contribute in a number of ways such as providing extra staff, marketing, offering gifts or prizes to your delegates and even possibly the use of a venue. These are all considerable resources that can help you to decrease your event costs. The key to benefiting from partnerships is to use contacts that can add value and explain how they will benefit as well. Remember, it must be a win-win situation. It’s unlikely any company will contribute or sponsor resources if they don’t see any benefits of the event for themselves.
6. Set a Realistic Budget for your Event:
This is usually a big obstacle for most event managers. This is mostly due to a lack of research in terms of what an event is likely to cost – when ALL the considerations are taken. Thumb sucking an amount is very dangerous. It’s easy to overspend and run your event at a loss if you don’t plan your budget. So how do you do it? Firstly, consider all of the costs you will have. Write down a list of all the essentials, including things like your venue and catering, presenter/speaker costs, marketing/promotion, transportation, accommodation, entertainment and decoration costs. Then do some research and shop around. Get as many quotes as possible to look for the cheapest but best alternatives. If there’s anything you or your partners can do to reduce costs (i.e. the décor and marketing) that’s a huge bonus! Once you’ve done your research and set a realistic budget you need to stick to it. It’s pointless developing one if you’re going spend recklessly!
7. Planning the Event Logistics and Administration Process:
The logistics of your event are crucial. Your ideas and timelines for each of your event tasks will be effective and work if you keep a close eye on them. Once you have made a decision on your venue, speakers, entertainment etc; you need to manage them. It’s crucial that you also know exactly when you need to pay suppliers etc, to ensure everything is ready on the day! From a logistics perspective, you should have a clear and effective timeline for the day of the event. Additionally, you need to identify when each speaker will speak – and for how long and when. Also, you need to determine when the best time is to have intervals like tea and lunch breaks. To succeed with your logistics you should implement a solid administrative process to keep track of things like your attendee registration process, gifts for each delegate and catering requirements.
8. Get Feedback from your Delegates/Guests:
The only way you will truly know how successful your event was, is by asking your attendees. This is the most effective way to determine what worked and what didn’t. This information is vital as you can use it for future events. Surveys are the easiest way to get feedback. You can either provide your attendees with a hard copy survey form to complete at the end of the event or send them a ”thank you” email which includes a link for them to complete an online survey. You should also ask yourself and your team if the event met your expectations and most importantly, did it achieve the objectives and goals that you set up in your event plan?
Developing a written event plan is a critical process as it’s your event’s blueprint/roadmap. These 8 tips are fundamental for your event plan no matter the size or type of event that you are planning. These steps don’t require you to reinvent the wheel or do anything drastic either. In fact, a good plan should make things as simple as possible for you. Remember, you will have so many tasks to get through, so it’s important that you always have your plan readily available to prevent overlooking them. Planning an event is not a quick process but a good plan will prevent you from going off track or losing focus of your event’s objectives.