Your big event is coming up and you need it to be a showstopper. Everyone who walks into the room needs to be blown away and leave feeling energized and inspired! You can’t afford to forget any details or have any technical glitches (are you already having nightmares about the keynote speaker’s presentation not loading?). It has to be right the first time.
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While the details of your event are the most fun to plan, building a strong foundation for your event starts with asking the right questions.
Ask the basics: who, what, where, when and how? These questions can guide your planning process.
Let’s break it down into a few simple categories:
Event Goals and Timelines
First, focus on the goals and timelines of your event. An event celebrating the retirement of a key product in your company’s history is going to have a much different tone than an experiential marketing launch of a new product; an annual sales meeting with representatives from around the world is going to feel nothing like a live-streamed Christmas concert. Despite having different vibes, the same amount of thought goes into planning each of these events in order to ensure success.
How are you going to measure the success of your event? It may sound basic, but the old SMART mnemonic for goal setting is helpful here.
- What are your Specific goals and how is this event going to help you achieve them?
- Do you have tools to Measure the success of the event?
- Are the goals you set Attainable within your resources and timeline?
- Are the outcomes actually Relevant to your company’s goals?
- Are you doing this because you have always done it this way? Is there a better, more Timely way to approach planning this event?
Thinking through your goals and setting realistic timelines are key to ensuring the success of the event.
Next, start thinking about your audience. Getting a sense for who is attending will help you make decisions about the details of your event and what to prioritize so you can leave the biggest impact on them.
Events for your internal stakeholders and employees will shape up very differently than an event meant to inspire new donors. Maybe your event consists of a variety of audiences, each with their own expectations. It will be important to think about how each group will see and experience the same event.
- Are you hosting employees, sales teams, clients, donors?
- Do you need live streaming for people to join the event from around the world?
- Are you hoping for a low-key event or do you want to make a big splash and garner national earned media coverage?
No matter how big or small, make sure the audience remembers your event for all the right reasons.
It’s time to start filling in the details of your specific program. It helps to start with the elements you know are set in stone.
- Will there be a presentation? A video? A demonstration? Maybe all three?
- Who is going to be the event host and how many speakers are you going to have?
- Are you going to have breakout sessions?
- Do you want to record the sessions for future content needs (like videos for your website, podcasts, etc.)?
- Will there be live entertainment?
- If the event is a fundraiser, are you planning to have a live or silent auction?
All of these program elements will require unique considerations, from decor and audiovisuals to event flow and more. It’s important to start blocking out these essentials early in the process and fill in the rest of the specifics as you continue to plan your event.
Selecting the right venue for your event is critical to ensuring its overall success. Most venues come with the ability to customize the space and already have basic necessities included. A number of venues are used to running electrical drops and having AV companies pull up with truckloads of gear. But you’ll want to make sure that you understand the rules of the venue before hiring an outside vendor.
Some venues have exclusive contracts with specific vendors, so if you choose to go in a different direction, there might be a fee built into your contract. Some locations are represented by labor unions with specific contracts and you’ll need to work with someone who understands the ins and outs to assure your event planning isn’t in violation.
Sometimes non-traditional venues are more suitable for your event. These unique spaces can be perfect for the atmosphere you want to create, but can also make things more challenging and change the timelines for setup and teardown.
A conference center is going to have loading docks, freight elevators and plenty of storage for production gear at a higher rental cost. Conversely, a small venue might save you a few bucks, but it could be more challenging for loading, storage, and technical needs. Always make sure your event space is right for your event – and vice versa.
As you start putting together your production plan, think about the elements that you have used in the past.
- Have you worked with lighting and audio technicians? Do you know how to handle the questions they’ll have about the event and the space?
- Do you have internal resources for creating the graphics?
- Are you planning to have live music or a live DJ to keep the mood just right?
Once you’ve started to outline your next event, reach out to us and we’d be happy to help. If we haven’t done exactly what you’re dreaming of, we know the people who have and can work together to achieve your event goals and vision.