How To Plan An Event: A Comprehensive Guide With Tips
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Event planning and organisation requires strategic decision-making, coordination and supervision. Planning an event entails several steps and activities that contribute to its success. If you have to organise a corporate event, knowing the step-by-step process of how to go about it can be helpful. In this article, we discuss a detailed guide on how to plan an event and share some important tips to help you in the process.
How to plan an event
Learning how to plan an event can help you organise it effectively. Follow these steps to plan an event:
1. Define the goal of the event
The first step in organising an event is identifying the event's goal. Companies can organise events for different purposes, such as driving sales, promoting a product, increasing brand awareness or combining these. Make sure you set measurable targets, like how many participants would attend, the expected financial benefit and the estimated social media engagement you want to achieve. Once your goals are clear, you can present them to senior leaders and discuss them with your team to increase the scope of the event and finalise other details like guests speakers.
2. Set a budget
Setting a budget is the next essential step in event planning. If this is the first time you are organising such an event, consult senior leaders or the accounts department to determine the maximum permissible budgetary allocation of such events. Once you have an estimate, you can divide the budget amount into different expenses, such as venue, refreshments, equipment, lighting, audio-visual presentation and other requirements. Ensure you keep track of all costs and payments while organising the event and safeguard all invoices and receipts.
3. Pick a suitable date
Choosing a date for the event might seem like an easy task, but it is essential to plan it carefully. If you are organising the event at an external location, you may have to account for weather and transportation. Similarly, before finalising the date, check with all senior leaders, speakers and other important participants regarding their availability. When proposing dates to the team, allow some flexibility and take a collective decision as per everyone's feedback.
4. Select a team
Depending on the scope of the event, you can ask your colleagues to help you plan the event or contact staffing organisations to provide temporary team members. There are many different aspects of event planning, such as marketing, merchandising, travel coordination, transport, accounting and operations. If the scope of the event is massive and you are expecting thousands of participants, you may require a dedicated team to organise it. As the planner, you can supervise and coordinate different tasks of event planning, assign each team member their role and ensure that everything is complete in a timely manner.
5. Choose a venue
Once you finalise the date and the team, you can start searching for a suitable venue. The venue might be the most costly expense during the event, so it is important to exercise due diligence while selecting the right venue. Considering the location, accessibility, the number of participants, the purpose of the event and the budget, short-list a few options and, if possible, visit them before making the final decision. If you are organising an event that requires several people to travel, also consider the distance from the airport and other regions of the city.
6. Create event branding
With key information, like the date, venue and speakers confirmed, you can start creating marketing assets for the event. If possible, create a unique website to promote the event and find unique ways to promote it on social media platforms. Appoint expert designers to create attractive brochures, logos, merchandise and other branding material. Make sure that the colours, theme, name and decor of the entire event are consistent. Print the necessary banners and display signs with all important event details.
7. Prepare a detailed event schedule
Next, create a comprehensive schedule for the event that gives details about every session, workshop and speaker. Allocate sufficient time for each session and accommodate them most efficiently to ensure that participants attend them. You can choose to have multiple sessions simultaneously if the number of participants is extremely high. If there are any changes to the schedule due to unforeseen emergencies, make sure you update your website and brochures to reflect the same.
8. Coordinate with speakers and sponsors
If you are planning a large-scale event, you may have to seek sponsorships to offset the cost. Speakers, sponsors and exhibitors are some ways you can do this. If you are inviting distinguished leaders and experts, they may demand a fee for conducting a session, besides reimbursements for travel and accommodation. It is vital for the operations and travel team to coordinate with the speakers and sponsors well in advance to confirm their presence and provide them with the required assistance.
9. Check all technical equipment
It can be challenging to organise an event without any technical devices and support. Even a small scale event with a few participants may require a projector, speakers, internet connectivity and computer devices. Before the event, test all pieces of equipment to ensure that they are functioning without any glitches. Ideally, you can do this one or two days before the event. If you intend to live stream the event, make sure all the devices work as expected beforehand.
10. Promote the event proceedings
Have a promotional strategy to showcase the happenings, sessions and proceedings of the event during and after it is over. Besides live streaming, team members can promote the event live using special hashtags. Ask participants and exhibitors to share their experiences on social media platforms. Hire photographers and videographers to record all event sessions and share these recordings through different platforms after the event. You can also ask attendees to share their feedback and experience in the form of short video messages.
Tips to help with event planning
Following these tips while planning an event can improve the chances of success and help you manage different responsibilities effectively:
Begin planning early
Planning an event can be very time-consuming and stressful, so start planning for the event as soon as possible. If you are planning a big event, the ideal time to start is a few months before the event date. This can also help you get the best deals on venues and hotels. Select a date that gives the team enough time to plan the event alongside their regular duties.
Delegation is key to any successful event planning. Build a strong and talented team and delegate tasks to them. Identify critical tasks and allocate them to different members with clear deadlines and deliverables. To keep a check on the progress, consider hosting weekly meetings with your team. The frequency of these meetings can increase as the event approaches. As the event organiser, your most important role is to supervise and coordinate event progress by ensuring that the team accomplishes its goals.
Plan for unforeseen circumstances
While planning an event, it is important to have a backup plan, which allows you to respond effectively to challenges and obstacles that may be beyond your control. Unforeseen circumstances include an overbooked venue, speakers cancelling just before the event, unpredictable weather events or technical difficulties. Arrange an alternative option for as many different activities and service providers as possible.
It is unlikely that the event goes exactly as per the original plan or schedule. You can expect delays and cancellations until the last day. Instead of depending on a single service provider or speaker, make sure you have the flexibility to deal with emergencies by working with different teams. For example, hire team members, catering staff and volunteers from different agencies or sources to ensure that even if one group fails to turn up at the venue, you can ask the other group to take more responsibilities.
Manage your budget effectively
Planning for a big event can be intimidating, especially if it is your first time. It is important to ensure that the costs and budget do not exceed the original amount. Keep updating your budget as you learn about marketing, travel and other expenses. Planning well in advance, negotiating and displaying flexibility while booking venues and service providers can help keep the costs manageable.
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