Top 10 Things to Know Before Planning Your Event
by Falon Veit
Events are fun, right? The initial plans are always filled with pie-in-the-sky concepts, Pinterest-worthy designs, visions of perfect weather and images of coordinating in a stress free environment. It’s the “honeymoon” stage of event planning, and one that doesn’t last very long. . . . because reality sets in.
Budgets and bosses take over, and your event is now another task on your already long list of things to do.
However, we have a different list for you, one that will help guide your thoughts, priorities, and personal sanity as you plan your next event. Consider this your cheat sheet for getting and staying organized.
- Get Your Details. If you are planning for/with others then make sure you have their ideas, wants and needs nailed down. Nothing is worse than marching down a rose–lined pathway only to learn that you were marching in the wrong direction. Ask the right questions — many you can pull from the remaining items on this list — to fully understand the end goal.
- Know Who Decides. Make sure you know who approves your plan, and work directly with them to manage the outcome. Maybe you were planning on serving food via a buffet, but your decision-maker has a germ-phobia and insists on a plated meal for his/her own personal sanity. Your decision-maker will guide your event the entire way, so know your audience.
- Under Promise, Over Deliver. Don’t be a ‘yes’ person. If you have a request that is impossible, let them know! This is critical for church event planning and fundraising, because you can’t always make every wish a reality. Don’t set yourself up for failure — be clear about your capabilities.
- Choose Your Vendors Wisely. From tables, chairs, and linens to food, beverages, and décor, make sure you use people you trust — and actually like! This can make or break your event. Honesty, reliability, and simple friendliness will not only ensure your success, it will also ensure your happiness onsite.
- Track Everything. Take notes on phone calls and follow up with emails; print emails with pertinent information, and file everything in one place. Ever heard of “managing expectations”? Well, tracking your communications is just one way to do that. Make sure to take detailed notes and relay any pertinent decisions back to your committee, leader, etc., in writing. It’s just good business.
- Build Processes. Create documents (Microsoft Excel is the best for this) to manage your data for timelines, event flow, staffing, catering, etc. Not only will putting all of your information in place help you sleep at night, it will allow you share it with your team and to make cohesive adjustments.
- Communicate Effectively. Take the documents you’ve created and make sure your decision maker/team, vendors, venue and other pertinent players are aware of all the details. It’s always better to tell them more than less, especially with regard to the one paying the bills!
- Final Confirmation. Get any last minute concerns or changes from your decision-maker/team. Forty-eight hours to one week prior to the event (whenever you’re ninety-nine percent done with the planning), meet to go over the final plan. This will allow you to verbalize your plans, and allow others to update you on any last-minute concerns or changes.
- Review and Tweak. Go through your documents and processes to ensure everything will happen just as you have it planned. After you’ve met with your team/decision-maker, finalize your plans the night before your event. Walk yourself through the flow, imagining yourself as an attendee; tweak any minor details to make sure the experience is top-notch.
- Enjoy! With all this pre-planning, you should be able to enjoy your own event! Your actual event day (or night) should be fun for you! You have done all of the hard work beforehand, so make sure to revel in your success and graciously accept praise.
Falon Veit Scott is the CEO of Evolution Event Solutions, Inc., managing meetings and events in various industries for over fifteen years. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading and traveling. For further assistance, please visit www.evolutioneventsolutions.com.