Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Top 10 things you need to know when planning and executing an event.
This guide is designed to help you every step of the way. No matter how big or how small your event, it is here to help. Every event has it's challenges and things invariably going wrong. This guide is here to give you the tools to be able to deal calmly with any issue that arises.
“I absolutely love planning events”.
Going through the process from an idea and seeing that idea come to life and being a part of that process is so exciting for me. I know others hate it and find it really stressful.
Those butterflies in your tummy making you anxious, well they are the same butterflies that tells you when you are excited too. So lets get those butterflies synchronised and lets get excited about your event.
It all starts here….
STEP ONE - WHY?
What is the purpose of the event? What do you want your audience to see or be involved in?
Are you a charity? Or are you a business? Or is this a personal event ie., birthday, wedding.
If you are a charity then are you fundraising or giving something back to your sponsors?. Are you a business and want to drive more sales, or showcase a new product, customer engagement or networking event.
Understand now what you want the event to achieve, whats the goal? Without this your event can be a costly exercise with little reward. So....“Whats the goal - whats the purpose”?
STEP TWO - HOW MUCH?
Set your budget?
This will dictate your whole event…..Business, networking, charity or personal event, knowing your budget will set the scene.
No matter what kind of organisation you are, think about what can you get for free? What collateral can you use that will not cost the earth?. What can you beg, borrow or steal? Who do you know that can help? Do you have friends who speak at similar events?, do you have other companies who might like to collaborate with you? Can you get any freebies to hand out or have you got product you want to get rid of? Can you cater for your event yourself? Can you hold the event in your offices to cut costs?
Is this event going to be ticketed so do you need to sell all your tickets for the event to pay for itself and make profit?
Or is money not a problem and you can organise whatever you like.
Whatever the budget, keep focused on the figures these can escalate really quickly.
Always be on the ball so you can make decisions quickly without stopping the momentum….
STEP THREE - WHO?
Who are you going to invite?
Hopefully now you understand what the goal is and you have set your budget, so who is coming? who are you going to invite? who is your target audience?
Are you inviting the general public or a specific genre. Are you networking and want to hit a certain business audience, do you want to showcase a product or give a talk or is this a team building event where you want to do outside activities as well?.
Knowing this will help where and how you advertise your event, what the venue will be and even down to what they will eat (feeding a hog roast to the Vegetarian Society might not be your best idea!! or campaigning for eco-friendly world and the hotel is serving beef for the meal!!)
STEP FOUR - WHERE?
So now that you have decided and understand your audience and what it is you want them to see or be involved in, you can now decide where and what venue would be right for the event.
When selecting a venue think about how many people are coming, what size room do you need, do you need disabled access, will your audience be travelling far, will they need rooms or parking, what facilities are nearby, is this a sit down meal or buffet style, will there be entertainment, do you need a stage area, a disco, great wifi? (yes there are still places in this world with limited internet!!).
This list is exhaustive which is why the goal of the event and the type of people coming is so important in the early stages.
STEP FIVE - HOW?
Fantastic so now we have the WHO, WHAT and WHERE all sorted.
Time to think about the HOW are you going to get this off the ground?. How many people do you need to pull this off?
How many people on the night do you need? ie., waiters, doormen, barmen, cloak person, speakers.
Take into account personal lives of the people offering to help, understand who they are and how they can help and how long they might want to help. Give the right person the right job. Make sure they understand what is expected of them. Give them a typed agenda to work from with phone numbers and information and keep them informed as much as possible.
Some hotels have a person dedicated to help with your event which is great although be mindful that that person might also be the manager or reception and not just solely involved your event. Keep all emails and correspondence so you can refer to them if need be.
STEP SIX - GET ORGANISED/DELEGATE?
Get your paperwork in order?
Now that you have your helpers on the night what about the people to help organise this event?
Organising an event on your own is a big task specially if you are not used to it. Having separate people to take on separate elements like catering, music, social media, agenda…this will take the pressure off you and help make sure nothing is missed.
Organise a spreadsheet that covers every element of the event and share this with your team. Make sure it is clearly marked up with an action list of names and deadline dates so everyone knows where they are and what is expected of them and when. Share email addresses and phone numbers.
Open a Facebook group or WhatsApp message stream so everyone can get involved with every conversation this will help ensure any issues are dealt with quickly and any fresh ideas can be floated.
STEP SEVEN - TIMINGS?
Now it’s time to set your agenda. What time is your event going to kick off? what time do you need people to arrive? Is there a speaker or presentation, how long is that going to take? Is there a sit down meal or buffet style? Have you factored time for networking or an after party? What time will the venue kick you out and most importantly….HAVE YOU ALLOWED TIME IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG!!
Having a dedicated person to run the agenda and keep everyone on time on the night is paramount to your event being a success.
Make sure you factor in time for things to go wrong and have a backup plan if they do. What if the presenter gets stuck in traffic who is going to take over or can you re-arrange the slot to a different time without anyone knowing? What if the food does not arrive from the catering on time? What if the electricity fails and you are in a village hall in the middle of no-where?
I accept you cannot plan for every eventuality but it is far better to have the most important ones covered.
STEP EIGHT - COMMUNICATION
Marketing - getting your event out there.
Depending on your audience this will depend on how you market your event. If this event is by invitation only, are you printing cards and sending by post or is this via email? Do you have a mailing list and need to email everyone separately. Having an account with something like MailChimp can really help here. www.mailchimp.com You can bulk email everyone without violating SPAM laws. Make sure you take advice regarding GDPR when contacting people via email.
Is this an event that can be advertised in the local newspaper (print and online) or do you need an eye catching poster, do you need flyers hand delivered to a certain area?
Will you be advertising on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, utube. Who and where are your audience?
STEP NINE - Record it?
Don’t forget to video and take photographs!!
Whether your event is a charity or a business event make sure you have a dedicated person with a camera to record / photograph what’s going on. You may want to do a similar event again or maybe you are using this as advertising. If you cannot afford a photographer ask around I am sure you will know someone with a camera whom you can bribe with a free ticket to the event.
Make sure they have a copy of the agenda and understand who the important people are that you would like to be captured. You could also give them a set a questions to ask people and capture their responses.
STEP TEN - Review it?
Feedback and Debrief
Feedback is critical. You might think the event was amazing but what did your audience think? There are lots of ways to gather feedback…forms on each table are a great way to capture feedback on the day (Don’t forget to put pens on the table for this purpose!!), speak to guests at the event, open a facebook group.
Alternatively, you can email them a survey the next day (survey monkey is a brilliant for this) www.surveymonkey.co.uk
And finally ALWAYS DEBRIEF with your team after the event. Organisers and helpers and venue staff. What worked and what did not work, what could have been done better?
Challenge every element. What did they see that maybe you did not.
and....don't forget to thank every one volunteers, guests, speakers, staff, venue, sponsors - gifts, cards, social media posts. Everything you can to say thank you as without them the event would just not get off the ground.
I hope you are now fired up and ready to get your event underway. It will be amazing just you wait and see.
If you would like a copy this presentation please send me an email with your details and I will send you a copy. (I will not share your details with others and will not use these for any other purpose)
To help you further with your event planning I have prepared an Event Countdown Checklist which will be blogged very soon, which will take you forward from day one your initial idea to completion, feedback and debrief.
Good luck with your event. 👍🏻
On the other hand if this has made you even more anxious then rest assured that help is at hand and I would love to help you organise your next event.