As an event production and planning partner, I know that managing successful events can be stressful and tedious. Having planned and attended hundreds of events, I have compiled event planning ideas that ANYONE can follow to ensure an event is not a flop.
There are always unexpected twists and turns that will come up, but by following these event management tips, you will be able to anticipate and plan what is controllable so that you are free to handle the unexpected.
Define the Purpose of the Event
If an event manager does not take the time to really define the desired end-result of any event, he is asking for a lot of confusion and stress for everyone. Is the outing for networking purposes? Is it a “team building” event? Is it a more formal annual conference or awards ceremony? If people leave an outing for networking purposes and do not feel they’ve networked, the event was not a success.
Decisions regarding types of food, lighting, decor and entertainment should be made with your goal in mind. Stating the desired outcome very clearly will make every aspect of your event management flow more smoothly. You will be able to make decisions faster and better because you have the end result in mind at all times.
Have an Agenda
As soon as you have defined the purpose of the event, create your agenda. Your agenda can change, but it’s important to have a rough draft of the event in the beginning. It will allow you to schedule and better visualize what will work and what might not. Will you have time for that long list of speakers? By creating the agenda on paper, you can see whether or not your agenda is realistic for the given time frame.
Tip: Send out or post a final agenda one week before the event and hand it out again at the event.
Add One to Two Hours to the Schedule
When defining start times and end times, always state the time as being one to two hours longer than in reality. The extra time will be there if you need it, and if you don’t, that’s great. Have you ever noticed how attendees always seem to have a smile on their face when an event ends earlier than they expected?
Avoid Monday Events
Try to plan events from Tuesday through Friday. This allows any last-minute details to be taken care of after the weekend. Who wants to call a venue on a weekend to sort out details or ask questions? You won’t reach the right people when you need them. If your event is at a desirable weekend destination, having your event on Thursday of Friday allows for attendees to plan for an extended weekend stay, something they might appreciate. It also assures your venue has had a chance to recover from their weekend events.
Location, Location, Location
Whenever possible, make sure the location is in close proximity to your recommended accomodations or public transportation. If this is not possible, a good planner should provide a list of travel choices, and the best ways to access them.
If your event is outdoors, consider the weather and plan accordingly. Even if you have tents to provide cover for guests in inclement weather, a truly exceptional planner will have a stock of umbrellas and towels on hand to give out. No one will forget you for that!
Consider Your Attendees' Needs
Consider the attendees when planning every event. You may have a perfect location in mind, but if it has many steps, it might not be suitable for those who use wheelchairs. Ask the venue if they have ramps and elevators. Will attendees be forced to stand for a great deal of time? Will chairs be available during a standing cocktail hour? This consideration will vary depending on your demographic.
Find Out Venue Hours
Are you able to get into the hall prior to your event? How much time will the venue give you to set up and take down? Always ask the question “Is there another event going on before or after mine?”
Make sure anyone who might need to reach you can do just that, and make sure you have more than one contact number for the venue personnel.
Assess Your Power Needs
In today's fast-paced world, we need power. Don't just factor in YOUR power needs (power sockets, Wi-Fi, etc). Consider your attendees who might be showing up with their laptops, smartphones and handheld devices. Will they require power and WiFi?
Also find out whether your location offers any type of back-up in case of storms? Can you still provide a great event if the power goes out? If the venue does not have a generator or other backup power source, consider other alternatives. For example, if you had a PowerPoint presentation and equipment or the power fails, do you have printed sets to hand out to attendees?
Publish Information Online
Consider setting up a website or web page specific to your event so that attendees and potential attendees can get information in advance. Having information online can eliminate some of the more general questions with regards to directions, agenda, attire and what to expect.
There are free platforms like Blogger and Wordpress that any beginner can use to set up a site. Information could also be posted to Facebook, Tumblr and event sites like Eventbrite.
By following these tips for event management, any event has the potential to go from being a good event to being an outstanding one, with less stress and more time to enjoy the event yourself.