How to Make Event Planning (Look) Easy
Ask any Event Manager if they are surprised to see that their job is currently No. 5 in CareerCast list of Top 10 Most Stressful Jobs and you’ll get a resounding NO! or I’m surprised it’s not No.1…
However, with a lot of foresight, precise planning and organisation, events don’t need to be that stressful.
We asked our Event Managers for their top tips and advice on what it takes to make event planning look like a breeze….
1. Ask all the right questions – ASAP
When it comes to event planning it sounds obvious but having a checklist of ALL the pertinent information you need from the client before you start planning an event will save hours of time and the annoyance of those back and forth emails.
Here at Corporate Events, we have a briefing checklist that prompts us to ask every detail that may have been missed upon receipt of a brief – what time will registration begin and end? Do you require a hearing loop, badges, leave-behinds, sweets for conference tables? Do your speakers require autocue, a green-room, pre-event rehearsals? Stage furniture – what style and how many? What creative content do you require? Etcetera!! Although it might seem laborious at the time, clients will thank you later as you are able to proceed full steam ahead without clogging their inbox with those ‘just one more thing’ emails.
2. Block book communications upfront
Event Managers and their clients are incredibly busy, and diaries end up becoming very full, very quickly. Take the time to go through how your client wants to be communicated with at the start of the project and send the diary invites there and then. For example, a face-to-face meeting once a month might be fine three months before an event goes live, but if a daily conference call is required for the two weeks leading up to the event, then you’ll need to book them way in advance to get a time that suits everyone, especially if more than a couple of stakeholders are required.
3. Call on trusted suppliers
Experienced Event Managers will have a ‘little black book’ of trusted suppliers that they have used over the years and will call on them time after time to provide services that they, or their agency do not specialise in. Once again, having the foresight to brief your suppliers early will always deliver the best results – asking your printer to proof and print 1000 Awards brochures the day before your event is never going to end well…
4. Become a Spreadsheet Queen (or King!)
For successful event planning, make friends with spreadsheets. Whatever programme or system you use – just make sure you use it to the best of your ability. Going on an Excel, PowerPoint and Word training course will serve you very well as these will become the pillar of your organisational prowess. Creating comprehensive timing plans, running orders, budgets, invoicing schedules, status reports etc (i.e a spreadsheet for everything) will help you to feel more in control. It’s amazing how quickly you can forget an important conversation with a venue about commissions and payment terms when you have several other plates spinning.
5. See the BIG picture
It’s easy to forget the bigger picture when you have a million smaller details taking up all your time. Creating an event ‘Master Plan’ at the start of a project detailing high level milestones will help you to prioritise all those smaller tasks that fly in.
6. It’s all in the detail
“The devil is in the detail” is so true when it comes to event planning. Before your event goes live, conduct at least two thorough ‘walk-through’ conference calls, with the first being at least two weeks prior. Allow at least 1.5 hours and invite as many stakeholders as you can. Using the Event Running Order as a guide, you should detail everything a delegate will see, experience, feel, touch and hear throughout the day e.g. “where do they put their coats”; “what is on screen when they walk into plenary”; “who will introduce speakers”. Your first walk-through will naturally lead to a raft of tasks, but it’s better to know two weeks prior than 10 minutes before you open the doors!
7. Death by PowerPoint is NOT an option
Ask any delegate what makes a great conference (other than the food of course!) and they will most likely say engaging/interesting/relevant presenters and speakers with interesting content. Reciting the contents of a badly designed PowerPoint slide is likely to send even the most enthusiastic delegate to sleep, so keep it powerful! If you must use PowerPoint, then keep it to one or 2 words MAX with a impactful photo or image to ensure the focus is on what your speaker is saying as opposed to delegates reading the slide and not listening. Also consider infographics and animations which can be used long after the event has finished and are very transferable on social media.
8. Keep all your ducks in a row…
Prioritising essential and urgent tasks into a daily ‘to do’ list before you leave in the evening will help you to focus and give you a clear direction as soon as you walk in the door. Our top tip is not to open your emails until you’ve done the most important thing on your list – it will make you feel more in control and stop you becoming distracted by other non-priority things!