Organising events can be a stressful process. We have seen events that run like clockwork and events that have been problematic at every turn. Based upon our experience, here are our top ten tips for a smooth and succesful event.
1. Set timescales and budget
Give yourself enough time to plan and secure all your requirements and to promote your event. A small event may only need a month or two but a large event could require up to 6 months lead time.
The venue and catering will be the most significant costs but remember to add in any additional costs you may incur such as equipment hire, transport, speakers, accommodation, promotional costs.
2. Choose a suitable venue
Does the venue fit with the image you want to project for your event? Is the cost in keeping with your budget? What are the maximum numbers the venue can accommodate and what layouts are possible? Is there space for networking? Consider the location of the venue, is it easy to find and get to via a range of transport? Can the venue accommodate additional needs? e.g. wheelchair accessible, disabled parking available, facilities for guide/assistance dogs, loop induction for those with hearing difficulties.
If possible, visit the venue so you are sure that it is suitable and can start to build a relationship with the team that will be looking after you on the day.
3. Don’t forget the extras
What resources will you need? Venues usually have a range of AV/technical available to hire but you will need to book it in advance. If you require specialist equipment, you may need to source this yourself (although the venue may have contacts). Check availability of WiFi at the venue? Can it cope with your needs as well as the needs of your delegates?
4. Consider the catering
Never underestimate the value of good quality food – this is often the area that most people feedback on! Ask the venue for menus so you can select the most suitable options/s for your event, and don’t forget to cater for those with specific dietary requirements. As well as lunch, ensure your delegates have access to tea and coffee at suitable times, and water at all times. Bear in mind that the venue will need approximate numbers at the time of booking and final numbers nearer the event date.
5. Promote your event
Once you have set your date, time and venue, you need people to attend! Who are your target audience and how will you attract them? Schedule communications to go out consistently in the run up to the event with compelling copy that tells people why they should attend. Use social media to spread the word, and ask your followers to share details. You could create an event on Facebook and/or create a hashtag on Twitter for use before and on the day.
6. Plan, plan, plan
Think through the order of the day, and prepare all the things you will need in advance; registration sheets, name badges, photo permissions, display boards, presentations, handouts, feedback forms etc. Ask the venue what they need from you in advance and provide it so that they can give you the very best service and support. Provide information about the event to delegates before the day e.g. agenda, travel directions, parking, public transport. Ask the venue if you can send materials directly to the venue so they are waiting for you when you arrive. The more you can do beforehand, the easier things will be on the day!
7. Get help
Depending on the size of the event, you may need a team of people around to support you. Assign responsibilities and brief your team so they are clear about what is required from them. Technical issues are common so ensure you have someone on hand with the knowledge to get sound and video etc. up and running. A good venue will have staff on hand to ensure you have everything you need, and can often help with last minute challenges too!
8. On the day
Arrive early! This will give you time to set up and double check everything before your delegates arrive. Make contact with the staff at the venue and establish where you can find them if you need them. Familiarise yourself with where food and drinks will be served, and where the toilets and fire exits are. Unexpected changes or hiccups are common, regardless of how much planning has taken place in advance. If this happens don’t panic! Speak to your team and/or the venue staff and together you will work out a solution.
Share the day on social media via photographs and key messages from speakers etc., and encourage your delegates to do so too.
9. Clean and pack up
When you allocate responsibilities, make sure you have a team to help tidy up. This will help to ensure you leave the venue clean, tidy and on time to avoid any potential surcharge. It will also ensure no resources are left behind, especially expensive equipment such as cameras and laptops. Having a dedicated clean up team will also allow event leads to thank and say goodbye to important delegates.
10. Collect feedback and follow up
It’s tempting to breathe a sigh of relief and take a well-earned break once your event is over. However, it is important to reflect on what went well and how you would do things better in future. Ask your delegates to complete feedback forms on the day and hold a de-brief with your team as soon as possible afterwards. Finally, be sure to follow up any actions that came out of the day.