Ten steps to think about when planning your event

02 Feb 2018


Last summer we were project managing an event in Japan, when we were advised to issue a Nuclear Warning. Apparently there was a risk of a North Korean missile ‘landing’ nearby. The simple message was “run to the light”.

While our audience was global it became immediately obvious that there were two entirely different cultures in the room – the Eastern, (towards the light) and the Western, (away from the light). So proof if needed that we never stop learning.

Reflecting on that event and others since, we’ve compiled a useful checklist for anyone planning an event.

H E  W H O  F A I L S  T O  P L A N  I S  P L A N N I N G  T O  F A I L

An event is a planned social or public occasion. So decide quickly should it create engagement, be interactive or simply share information, and therefore what’s the best location. Keep ‘people’ front of mind, not tools and tricks; who should your guests, contributors and suppliers be, and what do you need from them. Be sure to plan as early as possible to get the right people at the right time.

W H E N  T H E  P L A N E T S  A L I G N … G O O D  T H I N G S  H A P P E N

What is the theme of your event? Do you have key messages for your audience? Are your speakers fully briefed on the messages? Are they engaged and aligned? Make sure your speakers and content are connected – otherwise you expose your people on the day and the wider business.

K N O W  Y O U R  R O L E ,  A N D  W H E R E  I T  S T O P S

An events project plan can look overwhelming and endless. But a perfectly formed project team with appropriately skilled colleagues assigned to specific roles avoids unnecessary duplication and overload. It also helps to create an energy that can drive you when you most need it. Do you have the right mix of willing people to hand?

A  S W A N  O N  W A T E R

How well can you cope under pressure? Are you good at anticipating changing needs and identifying potential risk? Do you have contingency plans? What goes on behind the scenes should stay in the wings, but as an event planner you need to be alert at all times, and have a few tricks up your sleeve.

G R E A T  E X P E C T A T I O N S

The event starts the minute you engage with your audience. Are you setting realistic expectations? Using the right language? Are you on message? Think and create a robust Comms plan that has everyone’s buy in, and sets the tempo from the first interaction.

T E C H N O P H I L E  V E R S U S  T E C H N O P H O B E ?

Embrace innovative ways to communicate with your audience. Consider different tools to engage and converse with them. Bring something new and unexpected to your audience. Do you know what interactive events apps are available and how to ensure they deliver maximum impact? Do you know what tools can be used to trigger all the senses?

I T ’ S  N O T  W H A T  Y O U  K N O W ;  I T ’ S  W H O  Y O U  K N O W

An event provides the perfect networking arena for your audience. Don’t underestimate the wealth of opportunity (personal and business) that can be gained during scheduled breaks and downtime. What engaging ways can increase connections among your audience?

D O N ’ T  Y O U  K N O W  W H O  I  A M ?

When the event date draws closer lots of plates are spinning. If one drops, who do you go to for advice or a decision? Don’t stick your head in the sand and suffer in silence. Know your stakeholders and accountability leaders and involve them early.

I T ’ S  T H E  L I T T L E  T H I N G S  I N  L I F E …

Attention to detail is key to an extraordinary event. How do you want each and every person that touches the event to think, feel, see, hear and do as a result of your event and how can you create the most impactful experience for them? Is it engaging a futurist, is it building a racecar or is it simply having meaningful conversations that lead to decisions?

M E A S U R E ,  L E A R N  A N D  G R O W

Learning from what’s been before can help you build even more successful events in the future. There are lots of ways to get feedback and measure your event – both while it is live, and after it is has closed. Never miss the chance to learn. What are the questions you need to ask to gain the best insight?

Would you like to talk about a future employee engagement conference or event? Give Emily a call, she loves an event 🙂