The process of planning a small gathering or a large multi-day conference is the same but the volume of detail increases. Planning an event means strategically thinking about every little detail. Here are the top 5 steps to planning an event.
Step 1: Determine with your client the expected results of the event.
In this first step, you had the broad scope of the work conversation with your client. You’re probably researching to identify and bring ideas to the table, explaining how you visualize the event unfolding to your resources. At this stage, you’re also considering potential dates. It’s not uncommon for a client to be uncertain about an event date. It’s important to agree on a date because this decision will have an impact on everything else. Think about the room rental fees, the various support needed, the resources available to you, seasonal products, etc…
It’s important to agree with your client on what the expected outcome is on your event. For example: Is it a team-building event? Is it a marketing event? This will also influence how you as a planner will organize it. For instance, the types of speakers, activities, food, entertainment, and location varies significantly throughout the year.
Also, while it’s certainly uncomfortable for most clients to have the budget conversation, it’s important to establish this from the beginning. A budget will determine the scale of the event as well as helping to manage expectations on both sides. There is a difference between a $4,000 and a $400,000 budget for a conference.
Step 2: Determine your resources.
At this stage, you should have a template for your event. What’s next? Build a team! Who are your best vendors to do the job? Who will supply these services? Develop your detailed plan, determine your resources, and formalize your event plan. Delegating and following-up is key. Make sure to continuously provide updates and feedback to your client!
Step 3: Design and plan your program.
Now that you’ve identified your suppliers and can visualize it coming together, design and plan your program. Don’t leave out any details. Keep notes in a journal and write down all your ideas (big or small) because they may serve you as a reminder, especially on event day! On event day, it’ll be difficult to change the plan since you will be pulled in many directions.
Step 4: Branding of an event (if required).
A marketing strategy may be required by the client because of the type of event. Events for which participants need to register or buy tickets will require a detailed marketing strategy that should include tactics and recommendations to position the event in the best possible manner. It’s a crucial stage in which the client needs to contribute in order to help with the promotion of the event. This is a collaborative effort!
Step 5: Determine your performance metrics.
This is the part where you produce metrics that will help you assess the success of the event.
There are two types of metrics you want to have: The first is regarding the event – were the food and the exercises successful. The second is regarding the client’s specific metrics – based on certain events, the client may want to achieve a specific goal. For instance, the number of tickets sold. Getting expected results is rewarding!
One way of organizing and managing an event is to take the time at the front end to go through the above steps. The more quality time you spend in the planning of the event, the better chances you have at being successful.
Fun fact: According to Google, event planning is one of the most stressful jobs on earth.
Happy planning season!
Sindy Souffront has over 20 years experience working in communications and event planning in the private and public sector. Her experience led her to launch her own event management company: ECHO Events. Over the years, she has worked with Google, RBC, the federal government, Canadian Association of Securities Lending (CASLA) and other associations and agencies. On her spare time, she loves to help others. She is the “fixer” (problem-solver) to her family and friends. She enjoys a good wine and cheese almost as much as event planning.