Putting together a successful event is a complicated task. If you’ve never organized an event before, the challenges of event planning are even more daunting. Finding the right venue, putting together an event staff, pleasing your event’s participants, and staying under budget might initially seem impossible.
Fortunately, event planning is common, and there is a wealth of knowledge to gain that can guide a novice seeking to create a successful event. Learning about what constitutes a successful event and following some tried and true tips is a great way to start your event planning journey.
Need to make your next event a success?
Contact Color Reflections for promotional products branded for your attendees!
How Do You Make an Event Successful?
In any endeavor, success is a matter of meeting expectations. When it comes to event planning, the sources of expectations can be divided into two categories:
- Expectations formed by an event’s planners
- Expectations formed by outsiders
Part of the responsibility of an event planner is to determine conditions that need to be met for success. Every event is unique, so there is no particular set of expectations an event planner should form. Some examples of expectations an event planner might set form themselves are meeting a specific turnout goal, raising a certain number of dollars, or satisfying participants.
Event participants also set expectations for events. Event participants include both event-goers and event sponsors, vendors, and suppliers. Sometimes, the expectations of event participants will be very different than the expectations of event planners. Some examples of expectations formed by event participants include realizing value for dollar, enjoying the event, turning a profit, or making meaningful connections with other event participants.
Related: How Do You Run a Great Conference?
What Are the Steps of Event Planning?
While not exhaustive, this list includes steps that all event creators should take while planning.
Setting internal expectations
It is impossible to meet internal expectations unless those expectations are clearly defined. Throughout the entirety of the event planning process, it is essential that you and your team continually create and adjust goals for your event. Without setting expectations for your event, success is impossible.
Early on in the event planning process, you and your team should create an exhaustive budget that outlines all known expenses for your event. In addition to known costs, your budget should include a line item for cost overruns, so you and your team are ready in case unexpected expenses arise.
Finding the right venue
Finding the right venue is often challenging and costly, and it’s not uncommon to experience problems with the one you choose. Finding and booking a venue is an essential part of the early stages of event planning. Unless you can easily reschedule your event, it is probably wise to reserve a primary event space and a backup event space.
Finding the right team
Putting together a group of individuals with skill sets that complement one another can turn the rest of event planning into a cakewalk. If you have a team that is collectively experienced in every relevant aspect of event planning, your job transitions from event planner to manager. While management is often difficult, the right team turns this into a comfortable and enjoyable experience.
Marketing the event
Getting people excited to attend and sponsor your event is a must. Early on, you should begin to get your event into the minds of those you want involved. Sponsors and attendees will only contribute to your event if they know what it is for, when it is, and why they should be excited about it.
Creating a detailed timeline
Planning the course of your event is an integral part of event planning. Create a timeline that maps out what you expect to happen throughout the entirety of your event. You should view your timeline as a playbook that you will attempt to execute on the event day.
Making contingency plans
Planning realistically requires accepting that your event will probably not go according to plan. Create contingency plans that account for ways your event can go off course. Your plans should also include corrective measures to take. Having well thought out contingency plans will make it easier to adapt to the unexpected during your event.
Event Management Tips for Beginners
Now that you have a basic outline of what you need to do to plan a successful event, here are a few tips that will smooth the process.
Delegate tasks responsibly
Effectively delegating tasks is a critical part of effective leadership. Make sure that high-level event staff doesn’t take on too much responsibility. Try to equitably distribute workload across a variety of high-level staff and other workers to ensure that no member of your team becomes overloaded.
Prepare for best and worst-case scenarios
You need to be prepared to run a successful event, whether it’s according to your ideal plan or a backup. Making sure that your event meets core expectations even in a worst-case scenario is the only way to guarantee success. On the flipside, preparing your team to capitalize on a best-case scenario maximally, makes perfection possible.
Fostering open lines of communication with your staff, attendees, and sponsors are incredibly valuable. For one, if you have a clear understanding of your staff’s, attendees’, and sponsors’ expectations, it is much easier to meet them. Additionally, healthy communication highlights issues early on when they are often easiest to address.
Take a step back and think big picture
While some degree of micromanagement is warranted, an effective event planner needs to be able to take a step back and think about the big picture of their event. Your primary responsibility as an event planner is to meet expectations. How well do all the pieces of your event fit together to accomplish that? Consider the type of experience you want to deliver to each of your attendees and what value they want from your conference to improve it.
Event planning is difficult, but becomes easier with experience. With more experience, you’ll be able to intuitively recognize the core steps and critical tips outlined above. If you are a novice event planner, keeping calm and thinking like a veteran will ease your transition from beginner to expert.