Planning and organizing an event can be challenging. Whether you’re a first-timer trying to plan your very first event or an experienced event organizer, event planning always involves many different moving parts and not everything runs to plan.
However, just because event planning is challenging, doesn’t mean it needs to be a stressful one. Our top 10 tips on how to organize a successful event will help you plan, organize, and host a successful event right away. Let us begin.
1. Know your target audience
Who’s the target audience of your event? For some events, the answer to this question might be quite obvious, but less so for others.
To really understand who your target audience is, you should first identify the event’s purpose and objectives, then figure out which type of audience you should reach to achieve these objectives.
The better you know your audience, the better your event will be for them. For example, if you aim to attract young mothers, you should plan to invite speakers that resonate with young women aged 20-35.
2. The earlier the better
This is an important golden rule: begin planning your event as soon as you possibly can.
Even for smaller events, aim to have at least one month to plan the event, and for larger events (with more than 500 attendees), ideally, you should begin planning it 4-6 months in advance.
By planning your event early, you’ll have more options whether it’s venue choices, speaker/talents, sponsors, and so on.
3. Communication is key
Maintain healthy communication between all involved parties: your event team, the venue, vendors, talents/speakers, sponsors, and so on. As we know, event planning can involve many different details, and having clear communication is crucial to avoid these details missing in translation.
Having a reliable event management platform is crucial to ensure proper communication and collaboration between all involved parties in your event.
4. Estimate your budget early and stick to it
Still related to the golden rule: the earlier the better, it’s very important to estimate at least your high-level budget as early as possible.
Your event budget is your roadmap and foundation for your event’s success. It will help you identify your options, possibilities, and opportunities, so you can move forward. How you allocate different elements of your budget (venue, entertainment, catering, talents, contingencies, and so on) is arguably the most important aspect of your event planning.
Stick to your budget, and remember to compare the actual costs with your initial projection so you’ll avoid ending up with actual spendings far above your budget.
5. Develop a schedule/agenda, no matter how “simple” your event is
Don’t underestimate the need for a clear schedule or agenda, even if the event seemed like a simple or “loose” one (i.e. a simple meeting or a “free” party). It’s always important to establish an event schedule so you can monitor aspects like when the food/drinks should be ready; when the vendors should arrive; when the DJ should make room for the main talent, and so on.
6. Create a checklist
Again, one of the key challenges of planning an event is the fact that it involves so many different variables.
To tackle this issue, create an event planning checklist to ensure all different elements of the event are ready. Your checklist should cover all the details of the event and all the contacts for each vendor, and also include details like the timings for all arrivals and deliveries.
The more detailed your checklist is, the easier you can sleep at night in the week leading up to the event.
7. Plan your plan Bs
When estimating your budget, it’s crucial to allocate at least 20% of your total budget for contingencies. It’s no secret that all events will never go 100% as planned, so you’ll need to plan for unforeseeable situations. Plan your plan Bs and plan Cs for all different elements of the event, and especially crucial ones.
What will you do when the venue is suddenly unavailable 2 weeks before the event? What will you do if a key speaker cancels at the last minute? Prepare for the worst in advance both financially and strategically.
8. Establish a strong team
If you are planning to organize the event on your own, you can skip this one.
However, if you do have an event team (and you should), it’s very important to allocate tasks and responsibilities carefully, not only at the preparation stage but also during the event. Who’s going to be responsible for registration? Who’s going to manage the venue? Who should manage catering?
Give each team member a detailed document listing their responsibilities and who to contact for any problem.
9. Promote, promote, promote
Don’t underestimate the importance of promoting your event, and don’t underestimate the time required for successful event promotion. Each event is unique and will require unique marketing approaches. So, consider all the available marketing channels, and use the right channels (and tactics) that can effectively reach your target audience.
It’s also crucial to maintain consistency in your branding and your key message when promoting your event. The key promotion message should accurately convey the idea of the event to your audience when being broadcasted on all marketing channels.
10. Evaluate and gather feedback
Even after you’ve successfully hosted your event, your job doesn’t end there. Conduct a post-event survey to gather objective feedback from your participants. You can send them a printed survey right at the end of the event or an online survey that they can fill out later. Ask them for their feedback about different elements of the event.
The data you gather here will come in handy if you host another event in the future.
When planning an event, the earlier, the better: secure your venue and event date as early as possible so you can move forward to secure the other details.
By following the tips we’ve shared above, you are ready to start planning and organizing a successful event that can attract more attendees.