Planning a memorable event can often seem like a daunting task. There are so many things to do it’s hard to know where to even start.
Challenges include; finding the ideal venue in the perfect location; planning and sticking to a budget; finding the right décor, props and event technology; choosing the perfect guest speakers, MC or special guests; managing event invitations and ensuring you get a good turnout on the day and finally choosing the right tools to promote your event across all social media channels.
We have brainstormed over the last few days and have come up with this ‘Ultimate Event Planning Guide’ to help kick start your next big event!
#1 – Goals & Objectives
It might seem obvious but one of the most important elements of organizing an event is to consider what the end goal is. Every event will have different objectives that the organizers are hoping to achieve. Once these are nailed down, it will help you focus your efforts and will help you communicate with your events team more effectively.
Sit down and ask yourself, “What exactly am I hoping to achieve with this event?” Your event goals should outline the general purpose of your event and will provide a clear road map for the planning process while your event objectives will be measurable attainable targets that contribute to the accomplishment of the overall goal.
2 – Assemble a Team
In most cases planning an event can be a lot of stress and work for one person. Having more people to help out with ideas, plans and tasks can save both time and money. If you’re on a smaller budget try reaching out to family or friends who might volunteer to lend a helping hand. You can thank all volunteers after the event and offer to return the favour in the future.
Good team members with different skills will be vital for the events success. Think about what value each member can bring and where their skills could be most useful. Always be prepared to delegate responsibility for some of the tasks involved, and try to position yourself more in a “coordinating” role. A great new site to try out is ‘EventDawn’ which is essentially an online Binder for event organizers where you can easily invite team members to collaborate.
3 – Select a Date
This step is often over-looked and we feel event organizers really don’t spend enough time carefully considering the perfect date for their event.
Selecting a date for an event can have a big impact with regards to the number of people who attend. You will want to be sure that another similar event does not hinder your turnout and be sure to check online for conflicting events such as major sports games, music concerts or religious or national holidays. You can also use sites like Doodle or agreeAdate to decide on what date suits the most people.
4 – Prepare a Budget
“Budgeting has only one rule: do not go over budget!” – Leslie Tayne.
Creating a budget for an event is an essential part of the planning process as it will have a huge impact on the rest of the planning steps. The budget is the starting point for other areas of development like venue hire, speakers, entertainment, catering services and all other aspects of event management. Having a set figure in mind will make for easier and more realistic planning.
It’s easy to make elaborate plans when you sit and daydream about planning an event. Having a budget will keep things in perspective. When making a budget, try and be as accurate and conservative as possible. Research and examine all of your budget items and their associated costs.
There might be a huge difference in price between the estimated cost and the actual cost of an item. You don’t want to have to abandon any aspect of your event due to poor budget estimates. Shop around for the best available prices. This will help you from not going over budget and ensure you don’t any waste time. To help you plan your budget you can use tools like EventBudget or the Super Planning App.
5 – Think about funding options
Partnerships & sponsorship
Once you have drawn up the initial budget, you can decide whether you can afford the cost of your event or whether you need sponsors or donors to make things work. Try to identify and establish possible partnerships with local businesses or organizations. These partnerships could help with funding, aid with marketing or they may simply be able to provide free resources for your event.
Crowd sourcing is becoming more and more popular in the events industry and will help ease the financial risk. Creating a crowd sourcing campaign will allow people to sponsor or donate small or large sums of money towards your event. You can provide different rewards to incentivize donations such as free social media promotion, free event entry or even just a thank-you card! Once your event has reached its target monetary goal, you can then begin planning the event. Some event crowd sourcing websites include: CrowndsUnite, GoFundme and Kickstarter.
6 – Find a venue
When it come sot finding the perfect venue for your event there are a lot of things to consider. You will want to make sure your chosen venue is either close to public transport and in an accessible location or else is able to provide a lot of parking for event attendees.
Think about the type of event you are organizing and then think of all the type of venues available to hire such as stadiums, museums, night clubs, smaller unique venues or hotels and conference centers. Work out how many attendees you plan on inviting and ensure your chosen venue can accommodate that number of people in the style you are looking for
7 – Brainstorm an event plan
The event plan should include all the nitty gritty details. A brainstorming session with team members will help form ideas and get the creative juices following. Members can separate the good ideas from the bad ideas, and in doing so take you will find yourself a step closer to executing the events goals and objectives.
Really identifying and focusing on your target audience is critical in this step. Try and look at your event from their perspective. Ask yourself these questions like, “Who would people want to come to this event?”, “Why would they be interested?”, and “How will my event provide a valuable experience?” and be sure that your event plan will answer these questions. Some great brainstorming apps to help with your event plan include SimpleMind, Grapholite and Mindomo.
8 – Create an event checklist
This will be your roadmap to success. Once you’ve brainstormed an overall event plan and know what type of experience you wish to give your attendees, it’s time to create a checklist. Break down all of your ideas into actionable steps and try to be as thorough and detailed as possible so not to cause confusion.
Here are some examples of tasks for your event checklist:
- Venue hiring tasks – contracts, deposit, insurance, availability
- Security management – availability, rental fees
- Marketing tasks – website creation, social media, radio promotion
- Entertainment tasks- rental fees, duration, availability
- Catering tasks – cost, location, availability
- Sponsorship management – Negotiate terms, arrange funding, collect supplies
9 – Promote your event
Even if you’re planning the most spectacular event of the year you’ll still need to make sure the public and specific groups know about it. There’s a number of ways to go about marketing your event to the world so it’s important to choose which methods are best for you.
Social media channels are an excellent way to build a buzz and create excitement. They allow event organizers to keep people informed with announcements and pictures of what’s to be expected leading up to the event. In addition, you can also use your social media presence to answer any questions and provide any customer support to attendees or the media.
Be sure to set up a Facebook event page which you can then pay to promote to a targeted audience on Facebook. You can also promote your event across all other social media channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Think of a unique hashtag that can be used on Twitter while promoting the event and on the day. You can also create a promotional video which you can upload to Vimeo or YouTube to show the highlights from previous events you have organized. You can also use sites like EventBrite to further promote and sell tickets to the event.
Don’t forget old-school media when looking for promotion for your event. Local newspapers and radio stations are always looking for content and will often promote your event for free.
10 – Following up
Just because your event has finished doesn’t mean that the buzz has to stop. This is where we can highlight the memorable and special moments of the event. This step will also allow you to engage with your audience and receive feedback, thank all attendees and speakers for attending, and most importantly provide a post event narrative capturing all of the highlights of the event with the aim to furtherer maximize the impact of the event.
More importantly, if you’re planning on organizing a similar event in the future, it’s important to gather feedback on what worked well and what areas of the event could be improved. Encourage attendees to provide feedback through online surveys or in person.
A simple thank you or follow up email can effectively express the much deserved gratitude for speakers, sponsors and key contributors to the event that made it a success. In addition to this, a thank you email can also strengthen the relationships of key contributors for future events.
We can also collect any videos, pictures and comments posted on social media throughout the event and incorporate them into future posts. Storify is an excellent resource for easily bringing all of the elements together in a post.