Events are extremely exciting to be involved in, but if you are the person responsible for the planning and organisation on the day, it can seem like a mammoth task. The key to having a successful event is being prepared and being organised is a huge part of that. If all your pre-planning is done meticulously, your event will go swimmingly.
I’ve pulled together a 10-point plan, which should help you think about every angle. This can be applied to anything from organising a craft fayre to a networking event for entrepreneurs.
Define the purpose of your event
What is the purpose of your event?
- Are you raising money for charity?
- It might be a networking event where a talk is given on a certain aspect of marketing/tax/pensions etc.
- You might be teaching an audience something, such as a workshop for a particular craft or hobby
- You might be organising a craft fayre, pet show or market
- You could be planning a huge music event
The possibilities are endless, but having a clear purpose helps you to define who your audience is likely to be, what kind of structure you need etc.
If your event has a purpose, people understand what they are going to or signing up to and also know what they might get out of the event, be it professionally, personally, or just for pleasure.
What are your goals and objectives?
What is your ultimate goal? This will be WHY you decided to plan the event in the first place.
This is linked to the purpose of your event…but looks at the end result. What are you hoping that the event will achieve? It could be you want to establish a regular event every few months and this is the first of many. It might be that you want to drive sales for a particular product or make people aware of a particular charity or cause.
Then, look at the objectives.
Try and think of 3-5 objectives that support your ultimate goal.
For example, if this is your second craft event, an objective could be to increase the number of stalls by 10% from last time.
If it’s a charity event, you might want to raise 10% more funds than you did last time.
If it’s a first crafting event, you might have a number of stalls in mind that you want. Similarly, with a charity event, you might have a total amount in mind that you are aiming to raise.
Scope of your event
Once you know the purpose of your event, and the goals and objectives, you can start thinking about the scope of your event. This is the logistical side of things.
These are the key details.
- When will your event take place? Give yourself at least three months to have time to plan everything.
- Location – where will your event take place? Finding the perfect location is harder than you think. Depending on what kind of event you are organising, you need to think about the amount of space you need. If you’re organising a music event, you might need somewhere with a stage, for example. If you are having stands or stalls, you need to know how many you are likely to have, so you can ensure that the venue is big enough – and still have space for people to walk around easily – and that the stalls aren’t squashed together.
You need to think about parking for people who will come to your event and have somewhere that can cater for drinks or something to eat.
If you’re planning an outside event, you also need to think about a contingency plan in case the weather is bad, or you could end up with a cancellation, which can be avoided if planned up front.
- How many people are likely to attend your event? This will have an impact on the venue and location you choose. Is it a local event, or are you planning to get people from all over the country to attend? Does your event need to cater for people to stay over? Do you need to look at local hotels or B&Bs?
- What is your budget? This is an important one. You don’t want to be out of pocket after the event. So, you need to think about how much you will charge for people to attend, have a stall etc. If it’s a networking event or music event, how much will the ticket price be?
Do you need to hire any special equipment…maybe you have a speaker for a networking event…they’ll need to be heard, so you may need a PA system. You might need equipment for slides etc.
You can break your budget down into smaller chunks…
– Venue cost
– Marketing and promotion
– Printed material and tickets
– Speakers or musicians
Some of these costs, you may be able to recoup by what you make on ticket sales, or pitch fees, but you may have to put some of the money into the event before it starts.
- Do you need a team of people to help? If you’re planning a small event, you may be able to do everything yourself, or with the help of a few volunteers, but you need to know how many people you need…and find the right people to help you.
- With your team, decide on an agenda for the weeks leading up to the event and for the day of the event. Who will do what?
Allocate specific tasks to the people who will do those tasks best. You will need to advertise and market the event – who will do that?
You will need to get the right audience, so you need to think about how you will reach that group of people and target them.
If your event needs to split into different sections – for example, a networking event. How will the day pan out? Will there be several speakers? Which order will they speak in? How long will they speak for?
- Promote your event. You might put up posters if it’s a local event. Undoubtedly, social media will play a part, so you’ll need to have ads ready to put on social media pages.
You might have an email list and send out emails to invite people. You might want to advertise on local radio if it’s a local event.
Think about the best way to reach those that would be most interested in your event.
If people must pay to participate or pay an entrance fee – how will this work? Do you need to have a float of cash? Will you have something in place to accept card payments?
- Register participants. If your event means that you’ll have stalls, or several music acts for example, you’ll need to know who they will be in advance, so you can plan for space, catering, chairs, etc. If people will have stalls or stands, do they need electricity for their stand? How much space do they need for their tables? Will they bring their own tables?
Think about all the logistics that you need to know in advance, so you can ensure that everything is in place, in plenty of time. You don’t want to be running around on the day, as someone suddenly needs electricity, and you don’t have enough extension leads or sockets.
Once you have all of this in place, you will be ready for your event. With the right planning and organisation – and an effective team of people to help you, things will run smoothly.
There will be times when something goes wrong, or something unexpected happens. Wherever possible, try and produce a risk plan before the event. Make a list of all the things that could go wrong and how you will address them. For example, if you are hosting an outside event, what happens if it rains?
Having a contingency or risk plan, will make you feel much more confident if something does go wrong. And remember, even if something does happen, it’s usually something out of your control, such as a power cut or the weather. And there will be times when you just have to run with it and think on your feet.
Measurement after the event
Measurement is something that so many people don’t think of. This is a really important aspect of your planning, as you need to know if your event was a success or not.
It will largely depend on your goals…if you wanted to raise a certain amount of money for charity, for example, you’ll know whether that was a success virtually immediately after the event.
But if your event was something that involves other businesses, through networking or stalls, it’s a good idea to send out a survey after the event to ask what they thought of it, and if it worked for them and their business.
You can ask questions such as:
- What three things worked well for you?
- What didn’t work so well?
- Do you have any ideas for any improvements for next time?
- Would you come along again if we were to do another event?
You can also ask specific questions about the kind of event you did. You might want to ask about the catering, the venue etc.
Asking for feedback is so important for any future events you decide to do. If you get some good comments or compliments, you can ask if you can use those comments for advertising future events. And you can also use them to shout about how good your event was on social media. You can even put up a post asking people what they thought about your event.
I hope that this post has helped you think about the various aspects of organising or planning an event. If you go through the points and make sure everything is covered, I’m sure you will have a successful and smooth-running event, which will be immensely popular.
Let me know what you think in the comments.