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While no college course taught the fine art of event planning, I’ve been lucky enough to learn about it from the best. During my time working at PR agencies, I’ve planned events for clients across many industries. Planning an event can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Whether planning press conferences, ribbon cuttings, outdoor performances of touring Broadway shows or society galas, I’ve found that there are five event planning tenets to live by. If followed correctly, you’re almost always guaranteed a smooth planning process and a successful event (barring unforeseen things such as natural disasters or breaking news).
Before you dive in, discuss with your client how they envision the event and what they expect it to achieve. Do they have a specific attendance or fundraising goal in mind? How formal should the event be? Don’t be afraid to ask questions — it’s better to be clear on a client’s preference than to assume.
Set a budget that matches the expectations
A client can be adamant about incorporating particular elements into an event, but when it comes down to price, priorities change. Have a hard budget set from the get-go. Using an Excel template will make updating the budget a million times easier.
Create a timeline
Include all of the necessary steps and deliverables, working back from your event date. Set deadlines a little earlier to give you cushion for any unexpected problems. Use the timeline as your check list and distribute to all involved parties with assignments and deadlines. With event planning, you can never be too detailed.
Assemble your team
Use trusted vendors that you’ve worked with in the past or who have been vetted by friends and colleagues. Why wouldn’t you work with trusted people to get the job done? Set a regular meeting or call with your client and team for updates on the planning progress.
Check and re-check your checklist often!
You took the time to create it, so use it. Also, don’t be afraid to remind people about deadlines – they’ll appreciate your persistent follow-ups once the event goes off without a hitch.
Follow these five core guidelines and you’ll be on your way to planning a successful event — whatever it may be. Happy planning!