It’s coming, that big fun event that everyone is looking forward to, and guess what? You’re the one planning it. Your eyes start to widen in terror. Whether it’s a company picnic, a work conference, a wedding, or even just a birthday party, planning an event can leave you pulling your hair and biting your nails. If you can stay calm and approach it step-by-step, every bitten nail and pulled hair will rejoice when your event is a roaring success.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and your event can’t be organized in 24 hours either. The first, and best, advice I can give you is to plan ahead. Don’t leave anything to the last minute. Ideally, you’ll be able to start planning months in advance.
Define the Purpose
Start by defining your purpose. What is your event for? Are you celebrating a holiday? Celebrating an individual or group of individuals? Creating that perfect blend of business and pleasure we always hope for in a work-conference? Knowing the mission of your event helps you focus on your priorities so you don’t waste precious hours on details that ultimately don’t contribute to the event’s purpose.
Just like knowing your mission keeps you prioritized, setting specific goals helps you figure out what you need to do next. Try this: set a timer for twenty minutes and write down every goal you have for this event. (Examples: We will raise $2,000 for our charity. Every employee will get a chance to speak. Everyone will leave having made at least three new connections. People will have fun and be excited. ) Once you have your goals written down, determine which are the most important. Congratulations, you’re finally ready to get into the actual work of planning!
Now it’s time to start making decisions. It will be a welcome change of pace from the directionless worrying and brainstorming you’ve been doing so far! Think of all the possible expenses, incomes, and sponsors. Be realistic, it’s better to plan with what you have than to be left with an empty wallet and an unpaid bill at the end of the event. Try to find ways to keep costs low. You can invite volunteers to help with the event, look for inexpensive venues, and remember your mission! Don’t waste precious dollars on aesthetics when they could have been spent on adding real value to your event.
You know how much money you have to work with, now it’s time to choose a date and a venue! You’ll want to look at a few venues before deciding. If you can, try to make time to visit the venue in person so you can visualize the event and so there aren’t any surprises. Some hotels have a very loose definition of the word “ballroom.” Once you’ve found a venue that fits your goals, set a date! Remember, until you’ve booked the venue you can’t truly set an official date with confidence.
I like to think of logistics as all the little things. Do you have a way of getting all the guests to the venue? Will everyone have a place to sit? Do you have plates and silverware for everyone? You’ll want to prepare for everything. Luckily, there are plenty of companies that will help you make sure you’ve got every detail covered. The biggest mistake I see newbies make is linens. Never underestimate the value of a good tablecloth! Here’s a great place to check out some linen fabric properties so you don’t make the rookie mistakes.
Get a team together! You cant do it all alone, so gather a team of co-workers, friends, or volunteers. You’ll be tempted to start micro-managing everyone, but all that will lead to is a frustrated team and an overworked leader. Trust your team, the more details you delegate to others, the more you can focus on the purpose of your event.
Get the word out there! Whether it’s sending out wedding invitations, posting on social media, or announcing the event to your employees at a meeting, you have to advertise your event. If people don’t know your event is happening, or worse, don’t remember, your guest list will suffer. Figure out how you’ll attract people to your event and start writing those e-mails!
Alright, you’ve planned for every detail, your team is ready, the venue is set up and the guests will arrive any minute now. You’ll be tempted to start freaking out again, you’ll want to triple check everything. Relax! You’ve planned for every detail and you’ve done a great job of organizing. Enjoy yourself, pat yourself on the back, and have fun!
Don’t keep biting those nails and quit pulling your hair. Stay calm and follow the steps above and your event, whatever it is, will be successful!