Tips, Techniques, Strategies and Checklists for Events
Taking Ownership. This is key in developing an engaging event. Take responsibility from start to finish. Be sure to communicate all the details to your stakeholders, attendees, and staff members tasked with other assignments. Remember it’s better to over communicate information to avoid loose ends.
Ask Questions. I rely on the “5Ws and How” format. Who, what, where, when, why and how. For example, who are the attendees? What is the budget? Where and when will the event take place? Why are we holding this event / what’s the purpose? How long will the event last – one day or longer? Keep using this format until you are satisfied that you have all the necessary information.
Develop a Checklist. As you ask questions, your information gathering will help you develop your checklist. Once you’ve identified the details, start building a timeline. I usually begin with the day of the event and work backwards. I have a few checklists I use that have helped me keep the details organized. Download sample checklists.
Think Beyond the Usual Details. Now that you have the questions answered about who, what, where, when, why and how, think beyond the details. Learn about the audience and learn what they care about. What’s the key focus or strategy/objective of the meeting? Will this group need an amenity in their room, swag or other items? Thinking beyond the details will help create an amazing event.
Delegate and Use Resources. Where possible, find other team members to help with tasks of the event. Maybe you have a superstar Admin who has amazing Excel skills and is interested in gathering the travelers’ details. Is there someone who is a pro at PowerPoint and can help put sparkle in the presentation to make it stand-out? Some other things you may be able to delegate include: someone to handle the shuttles, set-up dinner arrangements, assist with registration… the list goes on. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s so much more fun when you can share the experience with others. Build relationships with your staff and vendors – you will need them for any last minute tasks and/or surprises. Don’t forget about software and other Apps available to help manage and organize your event. Are you looking for some software to help you manage an event project? Check out the Top 10 Project Management Software programs, available here.
Effectively Communicate the Details. It’s time to take all the information you’ve gathered and put together a communication plan. Make sure your attendees, event planners and helpers know what to expect and how to prepare for the event. Will there be a location for registration, what’s the name and address of the hotel or venue, are there specific dress codes for day and evening events, will ground transportation be provided, will there be a cost for parking, will they receive the agenda in advance, is there any preparation needed from the attendees, will they handle their own air travel, do they need to bring business cards, will they be sharing a room, and anything else you think they may need to know. Don’t forget to track responses, if needed.
Last Minute Changes. Let’s face it, last minute changes happen all the time. Plan for it. Evaluate any changes and be sure you communicate the details to all the necessary people. Meet with vendors, double check catering and timing, check equipment, do a dry run when possible.
Learn from Experience. Once you’ve done a few events, keep track of what you’ve learned. One tip is to put together your event emergency kit. Your kit should contain items that you may not find readily available onsite (first-aid kit, scissors, paper clips, post-it notes, stapler, sewing kit, paper, 3×5 cards, tape, push pins, ruler, tape measure, sharpie markers, etc.). I can’t wait to share some of my stories and experiences – good and bad – in my next book. Look for it in 2018.
Don’t forget…this is your event – you own it no matter what happens. Be resilient and a creative problem solver. If you need a refresher course, check out the workshops offered by Ascend2Success here or a list of topics here.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share about event planning? Share your comments below.