Need to know how to plan an event? If you’re planning a big event like a conference, we can help you successfully create structure and lay out your event plan. Below will go over everything you need to consider when planning an event, including event planning steps, tips and an easy-to-use checklist.
What Is an Event Plan?
An event plan defines how an event will be executed. It addresses all the components of an event such as the start and end dates, budget, venue, marketing, attendees and more.
The scope and complexity of the event plan can vary depending on the size of the event, but the fundamental challenges remain the same. Most of us have some experience planning an event, be it at home, work or in their community. For this article, let’s focus on large events.
Planning an Event
Most of us have some experience planning an event, be it at home, work or in their community. Let’s focus on large events.
A conference is a common type of large event, so for our event management purposes, let’s talk about a TEDx conference that we were involved in to illustrate how to plan an event. This example is a good scenario to explain the structure and challenges of planning a big event
Key Elements of Event Planning
The first thing to consider when planning an event is the date. That’s an anchor that can’t change. You’ll also want to estimate the number of attendees. These will be two critical elements that will help inform the other aspects of your event planning.
Let’s break down the other components to setting up an event. They are summarized below:
- Event: First, you must have an event of some sort to plan, of course. That event is going to require a series of responsibilities, revolving around its operations, legal and accounting duties.
- Budget: Estimate all your event costs and create a budget. Your available budget will influence many event management decisions such as your venue, the marketing and advertising methods, etc.
- Venue: The event has to take place somewhere, and that involves logistics management, food and beverages as well as the décor.
- Marketing: Once you have selected a venue, you need to start drawing people to it through a marketing program that can include a website, social campaign, email and print work.
- Advertising: Hand in glove with the marketing is advertising. That can include radio, TV, newspaper and magazine advertisements.
- Volunteers: A big event needs a big crew of people to get it off the ground and running smoothly. That means volunteers, which means writing contracts, defining their roles, setting up meetings and determining schedules.
- Speakers: You must have some keynote speaker or a group of speakers to attract an audience. This will involve contracts, curators to select the talent, a program, bios and rehearsals.
- Sponsors: All this costs money, and a big event’s budget is supplied by its sponsors. This will again involve contracts, marketing and logistics.
- Production: The production is going to involve creating contracts as you work on creating an audio-visual recording of the proceedings, as well as a sound and video broadcast during the event.
- Stage: The event takes place at a specific venue and on that venue is a stage on which the event proper will be presented. That usually will incorporate a projector, screen, microphones, internet connection, batteries, cables and more.
- Attendees: Don’t forget about the people who are coming to the event! You’ll need communications to inform them of event information, payment processes to collect fees, emails to stay in touch, directions, badges and access points.
Event Planning Steps
Well, we just went through a lot on event planning, so let’s break down those tips into concrete steps. These event planning steps will guide you towards success. Let’s continue with our conference example.
- Step 1. Determine your event goals and objectives
- Step 2. Assemble your team
- Step 3. Establish an event budget
- Step 4. Choose a date & venue
- Step 5. Select the speakers
- Step 6. Event Marketing & Advertising
- Step 7. Execute your event
When you break down your event plan into manageable steps, the whole process seems a lot less daunting. However, there are a few more things to keep in mind when making your event plan.
Event Planning Tips
Unfortunately, there are always going to be variables out of your control, such as the weather, delivery delays, technical difficulties and other potential mix-ups. As stated earlier, you can’t change the date of your event, so you’ll want to be as prepared as possible for any risks or issues that may pop up on the day of your event.
Event Planning Checklist
There’s a lot to manage when planning an event, so it’s important to have a list of everything you need to include in your event management plan. The following is a general event planning checklist to help you get started. The more questions you ask, the better your event checklist. Feel free to add your own unique responsibilities and tasks.
Goals and Objectives
- What’s your event’s reason for existence?
- What are the goals this event is expected to achieve?
- What are the revenue objectives?
- What is your target audience?
- How many people will attend?
- Is there a cost associated with ticketing and what is it?
- Where is the event being held?
- Create an event schedule.
- Figure out what the costs will be.
- If you held similar events, use and adjust an old budget for a baseline.
- What ticketing and registration software will be used?
- Finalize sponsor contributions.
- Set ticket price.
Date & Venue
- When will the event take place?
- Have a backup date in case issues arise.
- Is there a best location for the event?
- Is the venue appropriate for your expected number of attendees?
- Decide on needed infrastructure: wifi, capacity, bathrooms, near shopping & restaurants, etc.
- Hire caterer.
- Secure what equipment you’ll need.
- What are your security needs?
- Do you need permits, licenses, insurance?
- Create event signage and communication plan for attendees.
- Research potential speakers.
- Create a list of relevant speakers.
- Create a pitch for speakers.
- Pitch speakers.
- Finalize speaker selection, get bios and headshots, arrange travel and accommodations.
- Develop a list of sponsors and what you can offer them.
- See if there are sponsors who have partnered with similar events.
- Reach out to potential sponsors.
- Design signoff.
- Update site or build unique one.
- Make sure the site can handle expected traffic.
- Have a mobile-friendly site.
Event Marketing & Advertising
- What’s your messaging?
- Coordinate with digital tools and social platforms.
- Add the event to online calendars.
- Market event with blog posts and other promotions like video and online ads.
- Send reminders to all parties a month or two before the event date.
Finalizing, Last Steps
- Speakers and scripts
This Content has originally written by Jennifer Bridges and published on May 4, 2021. No Copyright/IPR breach is intended.