Many organizations plan events yearly or for special occasions, such as anniversaries or for holidays. These events may be highly successful or they could turn out as a flop when it comes to meeting the goal for holding the event. Event success can often be determined by appropriate planning and decision making. To aid in the success of future events, below are five questions to consider when planning an event.
- Why should an event be held? This question helps to determine goals, possible outcomes, and establish an overall theme for the event. Once the purpose of the event is established, a budget must be determined to pay for the event and travel costs must be considered as well. Knowing the event budget and goals before continuing with planning will help to keep the event within the desired scope. Never lose sight of the event goal even if the budget does not allow for everything, there may be acceptable alternatives, so brainstorm along the way to meet all the event requirements.
- What needs to happen at the event? Asking this and brainstorming answers is the first step in creating an agenda for the day(s) of activity. The next step would be developing a project plan for event assignments that include pre and post tasks as well as at the event actions. Will there be speakers, announcements, videos, presentations, exhibits, meals, breaks, recognition or award ceremonies, team-building, fun interactive activities, break out training, or discussion sessions? Determine is any particular equipment pr room set-ups may be necessary to facilitate portions of the event. Decide what type of print materials may need to be available for the event then begin putting that together and arranging appropriate copies and communications.
- Who should be invited to the event? Is it for a particular department, a set of executives, one or more work teams, individuals who achieved something, or the entire company? Would this event be something to consider inviting key or potential customers and vendors to? Consider whether a keynote speaker or other special speakers should be part of the event. Also whether people with special skills such as event planners, coordinators, moderators, or facilitators are needed for the success of the event or if this can be done in-house. If someone with speaker or special skills is needed determine how arrangements for them get made and how this might this impact the budget. Also decide what communications need to be sent to those attending and working at the event plus what follow-up is required and when deadlines should be.
- When would be the best date(s) and times for holding the event? Determine the length of tine required to accomplish the events goals, and then select three preferred date options to allow for finding a location. The event may be a half day, full day, or over several days. Advance planning makes it more likely to get the perfect location for the event during the preferred time period. As soon as the date is set, start sending communications to potential attendees so they can put it on their calendar. Then continue sending monthly reminders with new tidbits about the event to maintain their interest in attending. Be sure to send a final date/time/location reminder two to five business days before the event.
- Where is the event to be held? After determining the happenings and attendance, a location that meets all the needs plus catering options can be selected. Consider whether the event should be held in the local area if it is a short time period and where most attendees are located. Be sure to consider travel requirements and communicate any special instructions for getting to location for locals and others outside the area. If the event is multiple days and the selected location is away from the work area, after-hours activities or entertainment may also need to be considered. Before selecting a location, also determine if some activities are to be done outside or if everything will be done indoors.
To make an organizational event successful, whether it is for a special occasion or a yearly event, start with the five questions above when planning. These questions and associated planning should increase the chances of an event successfully meeting the organization’s goal instead of being a flop where people after the event did not know why they spent their valuable time there.