Event planning is one of the most competitive and demanding jobs. Event planners, conference producers and heads of programme must keep up with other rival events and must satisfy the challenging demands of the job. Luckily, there are some steps that every event planner can follow to make their job easier and to deliver outstanding events. Here is the ultimate event planning checklist to deliver events that stand out from the crowd.
1) Establish your goals, audience, research and learn
As you start planning for your successful event, ask yourself the following questions:
What is your event’s purpose?
Who are you hoping to attract to your event?
Which other events compete with yours and what is good and not so good about them?
Then, make sure you spend some time researching what other events look like and learn from them. Spend some time learning from your own previous events. What learnings can you use to set your event up for success? Investing some time at the start will establish a solid foundation to your event planning journey and set you up for success.
2) Define your budget and write your event brief
You can use similar figures from previous events as a benchmark. Look at how much budget you spent at similar events and adjust accordingly for your event. A key to successful event planning is establishing a solid budget that is both realistic and achievable. Spend some time developing an event brief and master plan. Writing down every detail will help ensure you don't miss a thing for your sensational event.
3) Define you date, event platform, location and theme
Select the ideal date for your successful event and make sure it doesn't conflict with any other events, or any major holidays or school break. Select your event platform for any streaming or virtual broadcasting. Some things to consider include how many people will be attending your event, does the venue have the infrastructure you need, and what virtual event platform is best suited for your event. Zoom is a popular platform to host events, as well as On24. Each event platform offers different features so make sure you spend some time researching which one will be best for your event. Regarding the event venue, ask yourself what geographic area is best for your event, and if the venue have the infrastructure you need. Regarding your event theme, review your event goals & audience and choose a theme that will appeal to your target audience.
3) Make your event inclusive
Make sure you use a diverse event planning committee made of minority group individuals. Feature diverse voices in your speaker line-up. Create an event code of conduct that is harassment-free. Make sure your event is fully accessible and compliant with the disability legislation. Feature a diversity of people in your event material: use underrepresented groups in your marketing material because representation matters. Provide financial assistance to specific groups if needed. Offer mocktails with cocktails and diverse food to make all your event attendees feel included. Use non-offensive imagery and music, ban any sexual pin-up images, offensive and derogatory imagery towards women, or offensive themes, talk titles or music. Review your event speaker slides and look out for offensive content.
4) Choose your speakers carefully
Great professional speakers can set your event apart, inspire your attendees and spread the word about your event. Big speaker names might attract attendees, however they will also drain your budget and might not be as committed to your event as other speakers. There are plenty of great speakers who might not be Oprah Winfrey but who will inspire and motivate your audience to create an event to remember. Reaching out to speakers who have experience speaking to your audience, and whom your attendees can relate to. Balance your speaker lineup to include a diverse mix of genders, nationalities, backgrounds and topics. Get your speakers bio information and photos for your website.
5) Build your website, promote, follow-up and debrief
Get sign off on the look and feel of your event website early. Make sure that your website infrastructure can handle the increased traffic over time, and that it is mobile-optimised. As you start promoting your event, use digital marketing tools including email and social media and consider offering early bird discounts or group discounts. Share your event on relevant online event calendars. After your event, send thank-you notes and acknowledgement to your sponsors, team, speakers, and audience. Send out an email to your attendees and share any reel video and share highlights on social media. Conduct a team debrief to learn their thoughts post-event.
Bonus: Plan an exit interview with your event speakers
In order to build rapport with your event speaker and possibly even get recommendations for new inspiring speakers for your next event, invest some time with them post-event. Ask your event speakers what worked well and what can be duplicated and what might be improved. As an event planner or conference producer, your keynote speakers can help you build a reputation and connect with key contact in the event industry so invest some time to build a rapport with them.
Event managers, conference producers and heads of speakers have a big responsibility to deliver outstanding events in a very competitive landscape. By following these proven steps, event planners can deliver the most successful event and mitigate risks. Making events more inclusive, featuring diverse voices and pushing back on offensive imagery or language will help event planners deliver an event to remember and stand out from the crowd.