Whether you have 20 or 2000 guests at your event, creating an impressive, memorable and unforgettable event can be a daunting process. However, by following these ten simple steps, your next event will be more organised, much more successful and less stressful than ever before!
1. What is the vision?
For what purpose is the event being held? Is it to raise funds? Increase awareness? Celebrate a corporate achievement? Launch a new product? Celebrate an occasion? What are the objectives you want to achieve by hosting this event? List your objectives and develop a plan as to how they can be achieved, maximised and measured after the event.
2. Check your diary!
Ensure the proposed date does not conflict with other events, both locally and nationally. As an example, failing to recognise a local or major sporting event can affect attendance levels. Check the local council and search the internet to see what other events are being held during that time. If you are planning an event where you have guests travelling from afar, vital research at this stage can save valuable resources, since venue and hotel rates are susceptible to seasonal and weekly price variations.
3. Develop a budget
The sky is the limit when it comes to holding an event, so ensure you develop some sort of budget before you start. Be aware of the most important aspects to your event and allow enough funds to cover those basic elements. When collating your event options, opportunities will inevitably arise which you know will really impact and enhance your event, so be prepared to have a little flexibility with your budget if possible. Now may be the time to look for external funding or to seek sponsors. Sponsors can be monetary or non-monetary, eg. a fund-raising event may source a local radio station to sponsor the event, by way of free air-time to promote the event, to help increase visitor numbers and overall success.
4. Plan ahead
Events take careful time and planning, so good preparation is essential. Ensure you secure the right environment, right entertainment and right location for your event. Many function centres and speakers are booked up to 12 months ahead, especially at peak times (November – December). Keep ahead of everyone else and secure your chosen services early. And remember, “Fail to plan, plan to fail”.
5. Manage expectations
What is the purpose of the event? What will your guests expect? Maybe they are not expecting anything and you want to surprise them with a funny impersonator? For award nights, corporate presentations and seminars – why not add some light entertainment to balance the night? Put on a show, break the formality, and relax your audience. Creating fun and laughter ensures your event will be remembered for a long time.
6. Location, location, location
With so many venues available for private hire nowadays, you’re forgiven for feeling overwhelmed with the choice. Exhibition centres, golf clubs, churches, reception centres, restaurants, tourist locations and theme parks, the possibilities are endless. Ensure the venue can accommodate your maximum number of guests, ensure there is adequate parking, do they have on-site catering, do they have the experience, you may even be able to ask for references from previous clients. If possible, visit them for a site inspection. The internet or company brochure is not enough (we all know the power of good photography). Simple aspects including clean, modern amenities, good acoustics for public speaking and friendly staff can make or break your event dynamics.
7. Develop a theme
You have a clear vision and purpose for the event, - now its time to develop a theme, whereby all individual elements will integrate and gel together. Do you want people dressed in a certain way, do you want them acting a certain way, do you want them to bring something with them?
Implementing a specific theme ensures consistency and sets the overall tone of the event. Its presence should be felt from the initial invitations, the entertainment, the food, even the dress code. All successful events incorporate a strong theme, whereby guests receive the same message in line with your objectives and desired outcome.
8. Food, glorious food
Menu choice is everything. If you are hosting an intimate event for valued clients, do not serve ‘party pies and dim sims’. Food is one of the first things people remember if it was NOT GOOD. In fact, even if you have top entertainers, top venue and a top set-up, if the food is poor, or if there is too little food, you have wasted your money. Careful selection of the menu, accommodating those with special dietary needs and ensuring there is enough food is essential. The same applies for beverages – ensure plenty of non-alcoholic drinks are available, to ensure the safety of guests.
9. Use quality suppliers
Work with quality suppliers. Network and discover the best suppliers to work with, especially with technical issues including audio-visual (AV) and staging. Develop a strong brief highlighting your proposed outcome and they provide the solution. The biggest variance is price, so ensure you compare your choices before you commit. By outsourcing AV and staging to one firm, they take complete ownership and control. A thorough run-through should be conducted before the actual event to test acoustics etc. If your budget allows on-site assistance throughout the event, it’s a worthwhile investment.
10. Let me entertain you!
Choosing the right speaker or entertainers can be challenging. There are many agencies that specialize in corporate entertainment and keynote speakers. Finding the right act/speaker for your event and budget requires careful consideration. Once again, seek referrals and always check the performer’s credentials (showreel, biography, testimonials etc) prior to booking.
Many party entertainers have video clips that can give you an idea of the quality in relation to choosing the right one for your event. If children are present, be mindful of inappropriate language and offensive material (the same applies for corporate functions). Once you choose a good entertainer or agency who understands your needs, you can be GUARANTEED a smooth and successful event.
BONUS TIP - Delegation
Delegate some of your specific organizing tasks to friends or colleagues, or if budget permits, hire an external event planner. If the budget does not allow for professional help, learn to love making lists!! Complete a detailed running schedule and tick off key dates for specific tasks and logistics to be finalised. As the event draws close, you’ll be glad you are so organised and you’ll actually enjoy hosting your own event!