An insider guide to planning a successful event
A live event has the potential to be a triumph.
Or an utter disaster.
The dividing line can be small, but the key factor that separates the two is simply the amount of time, effort, and expertise you can bring to the project.
Going for glory
Whatever the scale or the nature of the event, there’s always an element of death or glory… so for every general, you’ll need a group of willing foot soldiers. And for every visionary, you’ll need one or two realists.
It truly is a team effort and picking a winning side takes care and is a vital first step.
In this blog post we’ll explore what makes a great event. But for now, here’s a checklist to help kick things off.
What’s it for?
- What type of event is it? (Dealer Meeting/Awards Event/Product Launch/Conference etc)
- What are you trying to achieve?
- You may have more than one purpose in mind (I.e., is it to motivate, inform, educate, team-build etc?) … but be clear on the primary focus*
- Agree on outcomes at the start (and how you will measure them)
- Plan for as many resources to have an after-life – for use in social media, training, sales, to maximise value and ‘reach’
*If the answer is “because it’s been a long time since the last one” … think again.
Who’s it for?
- Realistic assessment of who will attend. The more homogeneous the audience the more tailored (and relevant) you can make the content.
- How many do you realistically expect? This will have a huge (and early) impact on the choice of venue
- Is there a demand for it?
- Do your objectives/expectations match those of the delegates?
- Are there any elephants in the room? (Do you have a strategy for addressing them?)
- What about inclusively? Do you need to consider signing or simultaneous translations? **
** For many topic areas we find they need a pre-event liaison to ensure correct understanding of the subject matter and vocabulary, especially technical terms etc.
What’s the plan?
- Build a diary and work back (check dates for potential clashes – sports, cultural, school holidays)
- Agree on a detailed plan of who does what (especially when working with outside suppliers)
- Hold increasingly frequent planning/review meetings
- Consider contingency plans (e.g. for too many delegates and too few; severe weather, pandemic)
- Carry out comprehensive risk assessments!
- Play to presenters’ strengths (and accommodate weaknesses – we have a cunning plan for this!)
How big is the budget?
- It’s always about the money so decide early, be realistic, and include a contingency plan
- Involve professional help – they’ve done it before and can advise you what’s feasible, which are the big-ticket items and what aspects you can manage yourself and where you’ll benefit from expert help***
- Consider possibilities for helping finance it (sponsors, supplier contributions, maybe a small tradeshow alongside)
***identifying who does what best makes for the best event and the best use of your budget
Where should it be?
- Good venues book up months or even years ahead, so this is a decision that needs taking early (as so many factors stem from this) †
- Visit the venue in person (you’ll find many surprises, both good and bad). Chances are you’ll be able to negotiate some special offers/discounts while you’re there.
- Geographical location
- How important is the cost of rooms, drinks etc. Who’s paying?
†If you are using professional help, they can help you speed up the selection process
Will they come?
- Maximising attendance depends on many different factors (see above), but it will need regular communications
- Because time flies like an arrow‡ it’s essential to create and act upon a clear marketing plan
- Use relevant channels to promote the event, and be consistent
- Use professional help to give the event some strong branding (to add impact and memorability) and mix this with more personal messaging to make the content more relatable
‡ but fruit flies like a banana…
Who does what?
As we said at the outset, you need to create a coherent, balanced team. It should include:
- an overall supremo
- at least one decision maker (though this can be extended for specific topic areas)
- a visionary (two max!)
competent, experienced people who are good at detail
- member(s) of the marketing/events company (if you are using one) so they are abreast of what’s going on
and, on the day:
- shepherds to round up/direct delegates
What outside help do we need?
Unless it’s something you do regularly (and successfully) event organisation is more complicated and time-consuming than you think.
Professional help isn’t free but can save you both time and money. Experience counts for a lot. It will improve quality and will save you reinventing the wheel.
Importantly, delegating responsibility for the smooth-running of the technical side on the big day sets you free to focus on your delegates and not on a faulty projector.
If you need expert advice on event planning, email our team today: firstname.lastname@example.org