So you’re planning an event – and you really want to impress the attendees, in the hopes that they’ll leave with a good impression of your brand, and potentially become a customer.
In this article, we share 6 do’s and don’ts to pull off a successful event. Start planning early, and follow these tips to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered.
1. Do: Use a project management tool
Have you ever tried to plan an event using an Excel spreadsheet or Word document? These tools aren’t built for event-planning, and we don’t recommend using them. Take it from us – it’s a painful, painful process.
Instead, use a project management tool which allows you and your team members to easily view all the tasks at hand, and collaborate. Our personal favorite is Trello, which is free to sign up for. Trello aside, there are plenty of other options out there – just Google “project management tool.”
With these tools, you’re able to:
- Create buckets of tasks to tackle (organize them via status – “To do,” “WIP,” “On hold,” “Done,” or via category – “Food,” “Entertainment,” “Transport,” etc)
- Add checklists and due dates to each task, and tag members to get them done
- Color-code tasks and add attachments, so you have everything in one place
Trust us, using a proper tool makes event planning that much easier!
2. Do: Communicate and over-communicate in the initial stages
Most event planning processes start with a kick-off call or meeting, where you get everyone together and talk through the high-level plan.
It can be tempting to try to keep your working group small, so that the discussion goes faster. But for the initial stages, we’d recommend involving everyone – even folks with a small role to play. This way, you can iron out any potential problems and challenges, avoid miscommunication, and make sure everyone’s on the same page.
In these kickoff meetings, make sure that everyone has a thorough understanding of each other’s roles, and set actionable next steps. This makes it easy to move forward.
Once you’ve nailed down some of the key details and are aware of the limitations or factors that you need to work around, feel free to reduce the meeting sizes, and continue with a smaller working group.
3. Do: Buffer enough time in between activities
It’s common for activities to overrun – especially if you’ve got speeches, panel discussions, or any sort of presentation lined up. With this in mind, make sure you buffer enough time in between activities, so that you have some leeway.
Another reason to buffet extra time: in a post-Covid world, many folks are now used to working from home. This means they might not be up to spending an entire day socializing and mingling at an event.
If you schedule in pockets of time for them to get away, grab some coffee, and have a bit of a breather, you can bet that they’ll be grateful!
4. Do: Have contingency plans
Ever heard of Murphy’s law? Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
When it comes to events, regardless of how much you plan, things rarely go off without a hitch. That’s why contingency plans are so important.
Depending on how lucky (or unlucky) you are, you might have to deal with last-minute cancellations (from attendees and/or vendors), technical and AV issues, missing supplies, and more.
So always have a plan B: have a caterer (who can take on last-minute requests) on speed dial, make sure you have a backup internet connection, and bring extra cables, equipment, and swag to your events.
If you want to be extra-prepared, come up with a plan that allows you to take your entire event online (via live streaming) in case local Covid restrictions change last minute, and you aren’t able to carry out your event in-person after all.
5. Don’t: Select your venue solely based on budget
When looking for an event venue, many rookie event planners make the mistake of making their decision predominantly based on budget.
But here’s the thing: if you decide to go with a cheaper venue, your venue might only come with the bare minimum. This means that you’ll need to incur extra cost/energy to get the venue event-ready (think: lugging in extra equipment, putting up decorations, etc).
So make sure you’re comparing like-for-like: if Option 1 is cheaper but doesn’t come with everything you need, factor in all the additional costs you’ll incur, before comparing the final cost against Option 2.
6. Don’t: Try to do it all
Can you pull off an event where the venue is impressive, the catering is top-notch, and the entertainment is Hollywood-worthy? Sure – if you’ve got lots of cash to spend.
In reality, most event planners don’t have an astronomical budget to work with. This means you’ll need to prioritize – figure out the one or two things that are most important to your attendees, and splurge on those while saving on the other items.
For example, say you’re planning a B2B event, and you’ve got some business travelers flying in for a convention that your company is organizing.
These folks aren’t exactly there for the entertainment, so you don’t need to spend on a live band or a photobooth (both of which might be suitable for a more casual, B2C event). But your business travelers will expect decent logistics, so it’ll make sense to spend on proper transportation (a nice coach complete with charging stations and refreshments, for example) to get them from point A to B in comfort.
Planning for your upcoming event
Because there are so many moving pieces when it comes to event planning, there’s always some uncertainty involved. That’s what makes the process stressful!
That said, there are definitely things that you can do to reduce uncertainty and improve your chances of pulling off a successful event. To recap:
- Use a proper project management tool
- Over-communicate, especially in initial stages
- Buffer enough time within activities
- Create contingency plans
- Evaluate your venue options on more than just your budget
- Prioritize instead of trying to do it all
As you get more familiar with event-planning, you’ll also naturally find the process easier. You’ll be able to draw from your previous experiences and learn from past mistakes, and react more quickly to any issues that crop up last-minute. Here’s to planning a kick-ass event!