Event planning is never black or white. As a planner, you usually find yourself somewhere in the “grey” area when it comes to planning any event. You want to make sure you’re setting goals, a budget, checklists, and sticking to them, but also on the other hand, trying to please attendees, vendors, sponsors and speakers – it’s definitely a grey area. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, or pulled into too many directions, follow a simple formula every time you dive in to plan an event.
Having a set formula to abide by is key to keeping track of all aspects of the event, and making sure everything is covered without any slip-ups. If you follow the 20 (not 50) steps below to event planning, you will feel confident in your decisions, planning process and see great results!
– Use checklists when starting at the beginning planning phases of any event. Make sure they include every single area the event will touch – from budget, sponsors, staff to work the event, event hours, gifts, etc. It must all be included on the checklist
– Create a budget before diving into any event. It should include everything from the dollars spent on décor or speaker gifts, to technology and food and beverage costs.
– Make a list of the top goals you want to accomplish at the event. What’s the purpose of the event, who should attend, how are you measuring ROI?
– Plan several meetings during the goal setting process of the event. Provide checklists and individual goals for every person working on the event team.
Let the Event Planning Begin
– Start the actual planning phase by creating timelines and due dates for yourself and everyone working on the event with you. It’s important to have a long-term gauge on when every piece of the event should be completed by.
– Brainstorm on a theme for the event. All events need some sort of theme to engage with the attendees, and help with the agenda flow.
– Start reaching out to potential speakers and sponsors you have worked with from the previous event (if there was one). Make sure all of your speakers and sponsors feel like VIPs when you approach them.
– Send out personalized invites to speakers, sponsors, and your key attendees who deserve to be treated like royalty. Make sure the event team communicates clearly and on a regular basis to all these groups.
– Review all of the important aspects of the event with your team, and then create a plan on when each item needs to roll out. This should include technology purchases and set-up, collateral and design creation and printing, gift purchasing, etc.
– Get a detailed list of instructions sent out to everyone working the event. Registration is the first touch point onsite attendees will experience, so make sure you and your team are prepared to greet everyone with a seamless process.
– Double check on lodging for all attendees. Sometimes hotels fill up fast on a room block, so you want to ensure all of your attendees have a place to stay – preferably with an event discounted rate!
– Educate your attendees before they step onsite. Send out weekly reminders, things that will take place at the event, contests, etc. so they feel in-the-know once they arrive.
– There should be plenty of time for everyone to mingle and network at the event – schedule networking sessions at lunch or at the end of the day with a fun happy hour for everyone to attend.
– Consistently communicate with attendees throughout the event. Be sure to set up a social hashtag if needed, or an event mobile app so you can send shout outs to vendors, or let everyone know about fun activities taking place.
– Bring some excitement to the event in the keynote – hire a band or jugglers to come and liven the room up before the speaker goes on stage.
– Have a fun contest to bring everyone together and make sure several people can win. It’s always nice to walk away from an event with some cash or a fun giveaway!
Act Like a Rockstar
– Mingle and greet as many people as you can. As a planner, it’s important to get out there and see what’s going on in the weeds of the event. It’s a great way to overhear something that may be an issue, or hear awesome compliments!
– Keep the good vibes rolling even after the event is over. Send a follow up email to everyone who attended, and to your speakers and sponsors. The best feeling is having go-to people you know can trust you and you can work with on your next event.
– Do a post-mortem after every event and review your goals and checklists. Was everything completed on time? Did you accomplish all of the goals you and your team set for the event? What could you have done better?
There are so many things to stay on top of in event planning. These 20 items are only the beginning to planning a full event. Lots of other details go into event planning such as floor plans, onsite meetings, schedules, agendas, etc. The list can go on and on, but the important thing is to stay positive, have a good attitude, and be the best event planner you can be!