It takes real planning to organise this kind of chaos.
– Mel Odom
Over the years I have worked in several different environments where effective event management is the most significant reason for success…. on in many cases, a lack of it has resulted in catastrophic failure. With this in mind, I have noticed how important this skill is for individuals to hold, and therefore would like to share with you some tips and things to think about to make every event you hold a success! If you have any further tips then please leave them below, as different perspectives is really important to create a successful event.
Planning – Stage One
When planning an event, the first thing you need to do is create a card with all this key information on it
– Overall Purpose
What is it that the event hopes to achieve? Is it a networking event? A competition? A Christmas Party?
What are the key achievements that will mean the event can be considered a success? Be specific with these, for example: achieve a rating of 9/10 from attendees/ event owner, or remain on-time, with turnaround time between agenda items fluid and seamless.
What is the total spend for the event? How is this going to be divided up, estimate costs for venue, travel, promotion/ media (include printing costs for anything you need a hard copy of), additional costs, and contingency. Contingency is the most important part of the budgeting process, ensure you have a substantial amount to cover any unexpected costs. You can’t plan for everything remember.
One of the most important things to consider is where you’re likely to encounter problems. Budget and time are always big risks, and can cause issues, but there are other things to consider to, for example, if you have staff operating the event, there is a risk they will pull out at the last minute, same with guest speakers, and attendees may increase/ decrease unexpectedly. You may not be able to plan for them all, but being aware of these risks means it’s quicker to overcome them if they do arise, especially if you have a back up plan ready and waiting!
How long do you have to plan and prepare for the event? Set the date of the event and then put in your diary when you need to confirm certain items (i.e.. the venue, agenda, travel arrangements, invitations etc.)
This is a bit of personal preference, but sustainability is really important these days, and ensuring that your event is as sustainable and waste free as possible will not only help the environment but will also help keep your costs down. So make a list of everything which could be considered unsustainable and see if there are any alternatives to the method you are currently thinking of using.
– Common issues to consider:
Health and safety, first aid, fire safety, transport, access to the building/ etc., licences (alcohol, permission to use public land, temporary event notice), insurance, photography, children supervision.
Planning – Stage Two
Now that you have created a list of the key objectives, risks and have an understanding of the key areas you need to focus on, the next stage is to get everything booked in. The first stage is to have an agenda created, so ensure you know absolutely everything that needs to be included (including travel times, and transition times) and put a time stamp on these items. This way, when you speak to the venue and travel companies, you will know what to ask of them in terms of timing, they may not be able to meet the timings, so you can edit them as needed.
ALWAYS visit the venue at least twice. The first time is to see initial feasibility, whether you like the space and if it’s appropriate for what you need. The second time is to do a walk-through, so as a guest, walk into the building and see whether it’s clear where you need to go etc. If not ensure that there are staff available and signposts to direct guests to the designated areas, also ensure that it is decorated to your preference, many venues will be happy to re-dress spaces to suit your preferences, or make minor adjustments to fit in with the overall “atmosphere” you are creating.
Always meet face to face or via a phone call when organising with anyone. Emails can be misinterpreted or missed completely and there is a higher risk with event planning, it may be an idea to follow up with an email to specify everything that was agreed in the meeting, so that there is a written record of it.
Update the budget. Keeping track of your expenses is really important to make sure that you stay within budget, so have an initial budget and a running budget which is updated, that way you can compare and reflect at the end.
Brief all members of staff involved. I cannot stress this enough. Ensure that all members of staff are briefed about your expectations of them, their level of involvement and what you expect they do if something doesn’t go as planned. Ensure expectations are transparent and stay in contact to update the team on any changes to the agenda, or anything else of relevance. Also ensure that they have the opportunity to discuss with you challenges they’ve thought of, or things that they would improve if they were given the space and time to do so. They may have a better idea than you did. Perspectives are key to a successful event.
If you stick to your timeline, you will have a hopefully completed everything a week before the event. Running through last minute changes with the event owner is the last step to a successful event. Regular meetings will ensure that there aren’t many last minute changes to the agreed agenda/ travel times etc.
The day before the event, ensure you have supplied the agenda, emergency contact information and other information that is necessary for everyone attending the event (including staff), ideally all in a single pack, so that they can have it with them at the event. This may be different for staff and guests, so make sure everyone has the correct information.
On the day of the event, ensure you are available to fix any issues, and check with staff hosting the event that they are happy and whether they need anything. It may also be good to have additional staff as ‘runners’ if the event is particularly busy. Being available for staff to contact you at any moment throughout the event is essential to a successful day. If you are actually hosting the event, then even better, you will always be there. Ensure you have a member of staff who can take over hosting if you have an emergency you need to fix though.
No matter how successful an event is, it is always necessary to reflect on the successes and failures of the event. So ask the guests, staff, event owner and anyone else involved for feedback on the event, the process and your personal performance. This way you can always learn and improve and anything that didn’t go quite so well can be considered and accounted for before an issue arises, and you know what went well which you can just reuse next time.
Finally make sure to thank everyone involved. It may seem unimportant, but is one of the most important parts of being an event organiser, at the end of the day, everyone put effort in and contributed to the event, whether it was a success of failure, they still tried. And it is very important to recognise their hard work.
Good luck in all of your event management adventures in the future! Let me know if you have any more tips!