When you host and organize an event, you enter an event management cycle. This can be broken down into five stages.
- Planning an event: From the idea to the action plan.
- Organising an event: From planning to execution.
- Promotion of the event: Spreading word and selling tickets
- Hosting the event – ensuring that everything runs smoothly on the day.
- Thank you for attending the event and keep in touch.
- Because it is cyclical, you use the results from your last event to plan your next one. (Unless you are planning an event that is unique.
We’ll be taking a closer look at each stage over the course of five articles. We’ll show you how to implement the steps in each article.
This chapter is about how to plan your event. Let’s get started!
Plan your event
This is where the fun begins. Perhaps you have an idea in mind for an event. Maybe you just know you want to organize one but need some inspiration.
It doesn’t matter what, it’s great! Now it’s time for you to start planning your event.
This stage is about defining the essentials and answering the key questions.
What is the purpose of my event?
This will help you to set a clear direction for the next stages and prioritize.
Who is the target audience?
This will impact your communication strategy, the channels you use, and your voice.
What can you do to make it happen?
This is about creating a plan for the next steps. Will you work with a team? What are the essentials? And what is only nice?
This stage should leave you with a solid plan of action and a clear vision of the next steps.
Ten things you can do now
These are 10 steps to help you plan an event.
Looking for inspiration? Start a conversation!
Asking for ideas and new perspectives is the best way to break out of your comfort zone and get some fresh ideas. The Internet makes it easy.
Find event organizer communities, like event company Manchester. You will find many event communities on FB and Twitter Chats. (see #EventProfs). You can join a conversation or start one.
It’s much easier than you might think. Quora.com is an example. It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3, to ask a question on Quora.com.
- Register an account (it only takes minutes, if it is not seconds)
- Post your short question. What about “I would like to organize [insert type of event]?” Would you be willing to share your ideas about themes and activities that I might like to consider?
- Wait for the replies to come in.
- You are almost certain to receive at least one response, which could lead to more questions or insights. This method works on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else. It’s worth a shot!
Once you have an idea of the purpose of your event, write one sentence. This is an example:
“I’m organizing this [specific occasion] because [reason]” Or “My goal with [specific event] [purpose]”.
Continue editing until you have a sentence that reflects your true motivation. It should be something that you are passionate about.
If you feel fancy, print the sentence in bold, large letters. It should be somewhere you will see it every day. It will help you stay focused and provide you with the energy you need to continue your journey.
Find your ideal guest
What would make a perfect guest for an event? What is he/she doing? Why are they there? It is crucial to know who will be attending your event in order to craft a compelling message and get more people to attend.
How do you find the “ideal” guest for your event? You create an “event persona”.
Imagine a typical guest at your event. You can give them a name that best reflects their personality, such as “Party Pete”. “Party Pete” is a good name. You should write down their age, gender and key traits. This SEO Savvy example might be the card you end up with.
You can help your guests remember that the event is for real people with real hopes, expectations and needs.
You can make the persona as elaborate or as simple as you want. It is important that you have a persona that can be easily understood by your guests. This amazing tool lets you create personas completely for free.
These should get you started. But if you’re looking for a deeper dive, here’s a fantastic guide to creating personas.
Find the #hashtag that is perfect for you
A hashtag is not a joke. (Even though it might feel that way.)
A great hashtag captures the essence of your event in a concise, catchy way. This will:
- This will help you stay focused while planning your event.
- Tell your guests immediately what you’re looking for.
- You can use your hashtag in the “organise”, and “promote” stages, as you will see later.
Are you stuck? You might try this super easy tool.
It transforms a sentence that you write – such as your event name, slogan, or catchphrase – into several hashtag formats. It’s not rocket science. It also checks Twitter for mentions of hashtags to ensure you aren’t using something already in use. It’s not a good idea to compete for attention with other activities and events.
Make a shortlist of venues
Although you don’t need to choose a venue yet, it is a great opportunity to make a list.
Open your spreadsheet of choice, Excel, Google Sheets or another, and note down any local venues that you feel are a good match. To help narrow down your list, add these columns to each column:
- Price. What is the cost of the venue? What are the charges for any additional services?
- Location. It is how easy it is to get there for your guests. Are your caterers and performers able to get there quickly?
- Services. Some venues have their own bars or caterers. Are you interested in taking advantage of these services? What about if your event includes music performances? How about parking and insurance?
- The vibe. This is your chance to be the best judge. Certain events are not suitable for some venues. It’s not possible to hold an indie concert in a hotel conference room.
- Capacity. What number of guests are you expecting? To ensure it isn’t too stuffy, or too airy, check the maximum capacity and restrictions of the venue.
- This handy tool allows you to quickly determine how many people can fit into a given venue, based on different room layouts. This tool is great for trade shows and conferences, but it can also be used to help with other types of events. It can help you locate the right venue for you if you are in the United Kingdom.
Make a budget quickly
Although it is not the most glamorous job, we will give you some tips. It is important to have a budget in order to prioritize your spending, determine how much you can spend on promotion, and decide how much to charge tickets.
A simple spreadsheet program can go a long ways. These fields are the starting points:
- The particular expense.
- Description: More details about the expense.
- Vendor: Provider of goods and services.
- Estimated Cost: How much you can expect to spend.
Actual cost – Once you have settled on the final price, you can see if your progress is being made.
While you might later add more fields to hold notes or other details, this is enough for now.
The hardest thing is remembering all expenses. The final cost of your event will vary, but here are some examples to help you get started.
Budgeting for unexpected expenses is a good idea, so that you don’t get caught unprepared later. This is what you’ll get:
Now you have a clear overview of your budget, and a reference point for future planning. Microsoft has a few online templates that can help you create budgets if you are stuck.
Set a date
This is crucial. This helps you to set deadlines for your planning activities and gives you something to strive for.
You can get the best venue for your event if you plan your event early.
Consider these things when choosing the event date
- Major holidays. You don’t want your event to clash with major public holidays, unless it is holiday-themed. Consider what your event persona might do on this holiday. They might be home for Easter but prefer to party on St. Paddy’s Day.
- Other events. Google some large-scale local events. Are there festivals that are more popular than your event? Are there major sporting events in your region that could block your access to the venue you choose?
After you have chosen a date, make sure to mark it in your calendar. Print it and hang it next to your motivational phrase. It’s now official!
Imagine the day of your event
Imagine a day that goes without a hitch. You can do a mental walkthrough of the day. What is the agenda? How does the atmosphere feel? Is there entertainment, speeches, fun activities or food and drink?
Write down a timeline of top-level events with highlights on a piece paper if you feel it will help. As such:
- 7:00 Arrival of the catering crew.
- 8:00 Tables are ready.
- 8.30 DJ takes the stage.
- 9:00 Doors open.
It’s not important to get into the details now. As things go according to plan, you’ll likely have to change it many times. This is how you can give your event a sense of reality.
This mental exercise can also help you catch something that you haven’t noticed. You may find yourself suddenly recalling whether your venues have dance floors if you imagine your guests dancing to a upbeat tune.
9. Assemble your team
Now you have a shortlist of venues, a budget and a rough plan. Now comes the crucial question: Who is helping you make this all happen?
You might fly solo. That’s fine. Others will need a core group of people to help them organize and host the event.
You can now start naming the participants in the activities that you have already planned and recorded. Who will negotiate with the venue? Who is responsible for catering? Who will be at the door and scanning tickets on the day of the event?
Many venues have staff and catering available to assist with your event. This can be a great advantage as they are familiar with the area and have experience hosting events of all kinds.
A package that helps you recruit volunteers is another option. Many people are willing to volunteer their time in exchange for free tickets or a place in the keynote speaker’s band.
It will be easier to manage the event if you know your staff and team well in advance.
10. Get a step by step planning checklist
It’s now time to organize and plan for the next stage. From here, you should plan the next steps.
You can rest assured that you are not alone. You don’t have to invent the wheel. It’s not uncommon to be confused about how to organize an event. There are many checklists that will help you plan and manage your event. To get you started, here’s one by us.
Set aside just 10-15 minutes. Take a look at the checklist and see if they can be applied to your event. If you are working in a group, gather everyone to go through the checklist. You can add other items to the checklist and eliminate those that you don’t use.