Event management is not for the faint of heart. A substantial amount of work goes into planning a successful event of any size. But with careful preparation, you can guarantee rave reviews and resplendent results from your next workshop, gala, fundraiser, conference, launch party, or whichever event your organization is hosting.
Host a Successful Event for Your Business or Nonprofit
First things first: the most important thing you can do to prepare for an event is to plan ahead. Small, seemingly “simple” events require 3-5 months of preparation, and larger events may take a year or longer.
Let’s look at the planning items you’ll want to prioritize.
1. Define why
Why are you holding this event in the first place? What do you hope to accomplish? You may want to jot down a statement of purpose for the event—something clear and concise that will help you stay on track as you build out the details.
Failing to define your why puts you at risk of planning an event that won’t ultimately deliver the desired impact.
2. Decide when
Timing is everything in business, so be strategic when choosing the date and time of your event. These choices inform every decision that follows.
Will the event take place in the morning, afternoon, or evening? A weekend or weekday? And which day of the week?
If you want press attendance, know that Mondays and Fridays may yield less coverage than midweek events. (Friday is typically deadline day for the local newspaper press.) And if you’re seeking television coverage with a live shot at noon, your event will need to wrap up well in advance.
3. Identify who
As a public relations professional, I’ll always advocate for inviting an influential guest or celebrity to help drive publicity. But the more popular the guest, the more challenging it can be to get on their calendar. (It’s a good thing you started planning early, isn’t it?)
Who you choose as your guest of honor isn’t only about getting the timing right, though. You also want to select someone whose values and personal brand align with your organization’s. A poorly researched special guest can harm your brand’s reputation to the point that you’d have been better off not having a celebrity speaker/presenter/honoree at all!
4. Outline what
Due to ongoing supply chain issues, it’s more important than ever to know exactly what you need to make your event a success. I’m talking about tangible necessities like tables and chairs, audio/visual equipment, awards or gifts, and other supplies. These items may not seem like difficult purchases, but nothing is as accessible as it was pre-pandemic.
At a recent event for one of my clients, the slow supply chain almost left me without any pipe and drape for the stage! Thankfully, it showed up in the nick of time, but if I hadn’t planned far in advance, I would have been out of luck.
Other considerations include food, printed materials, and even invitations. Most organizations use evites these days, but you’ll still need to determine what system you’ll use to curate your guest list, send the evites, automate reminders, track responses, and have a mechanism in place to update guests on any new (or unexpected) developments.
5. Finally! It’s time to plan the experience
Once you’ve ironed out the why, when, who, and what, you can start the fun part of event management: creating the experience you want your audience to have!
Think about how you want attendees to feel at the end of your event. What do you hope they’ll say about it to others? What will keep your organization top-of-mind even after the event is over?
Meaningful experiences don’t have to be complicated or over-the-top. My client, Catania Oils, hosted tours of their facility as part of a very successful publicity event. One of the most meaningful elements of this family-run company’s event was a life-size cardboard cutout of the family’s grandfather— whose contributions to the company were acknowledged in a special and fun way.
Additionally, parting gifts are always appreciated in the moment and can leave a lasting impression. From branded sweatshirts to delicious cookies to samples of your product, people love something that communicates, “Thank you for coming!”
Planning Makes Perfect (Or Close to It!)
Unexpected challenges are unavoidable aspects of event planning, but with plenty of strategic preparation, you’ll be equipped to navigate whatever issues arise. No one will ever know the event wasn’t “perfect.”
So start your planning early, and don’t hesitate to enlist the help of an experienced planner or event management team. Above all, have a sense of humor. If you can enjoy the ride, your audience will, too!
Goodwin Consulting can help you plan an impactful event. Connect with me today to learn more!