Wondering how to plan an event? There’s a lot that goes into hosting an event, from choosing your venue to selecting the speaker line-up. The key is in the preparation: getting the big jobs ticked off so that you can focus on bringing everything together and, most importantly, enjoy your event. Our ultimate guide features all the essential steps to organise an event. Plus, it simplifies every step of the process to make planning as hassle-free as possible.
1. Think about the purpose and target audience of your event
What do you want your event to achieve? It may sound obvious, but staying focused on the purpose of your event from the outset will help you to achieve your vision. It’s also key to identify the audience you’d like to attract, and start to think about the best ways to appeal to them through marketing and promotion. If it’s a younger audience you have in mind, you’ll more likely find and connect with them on social media platforms like TikTok, whereas more established channels like Facebook work better for older crowds.
2. Set an event budget
Are you holding the event to make a profit or simply to cover your costs? Maybe the aim is to raise funds for a charity or good cause? Will tickets be free or charged – and if charged, how much will they cost? Whatever you decide, the answers to these questions will help you to focus on your event’s financials, whether you’re hosting virtually or in person.
3. Decide on the date and venue
Nailing down these key details early on in the event process will mean you can share them with potential speakers or guests, creating a clearer and more valuable proposition. Think about what you require from the venue (location, accessibility, kitchen facilities, alcohol licence, and so on) and the time of year best suited to your event, then start reaching out to potential venues.
If your event is taking place virtually, think about the platform that you might use. Zoom is great for handling a large number of attendees, while Vimeo gives you access to slick interactive features like Q&As and polls.
4. Consider the content of your event
Now, it’s time to think about timings by drafting an event schedule. Whether you’re arranging a conference with multiple panel discussions and workshops or an online Q&A with one author, accounting for every minute of your event will help you stay focused on the bookings and arrangements that you need to make.
5. Talk to suppliers and speakers
Your next step to consider when organising an event is researching suppliers. From DJs and decorators to food trucks and face painters, a lot of your event’s success relies on your ability to find great people to work with. Now is also the time to start securing speakers and checking the availability of presenters and special guests. Find out whether they’re a good fit for your event by checking where they’ve featured before and what kind of audiences they seem to attract.
6. Approach sponsors with a proposal
Compile a list of your ideal sponsors. Think carefully about what you want from them and what you can offer in exchange for their support, whether that’s branded merchandise or a sponsored keynote. It’s a partnership, so come up with a sponsorship proposal that’s mutually beneficial.
7. Plan health and safety measures
If you’re hosting your event in person, be covered for all eventualities by conducting a risk assessment and drawing up a health and safety plan to protect suppliers and attendees from potential problems. In these times, restrictions may mean social distancing measures or strict personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements, so take these into account. For virtual events, consider sharing a list of rules and your code of conduct with attendees before the big day.
8. Promote, promote, promote
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to events marketing, so explore all the promotional options available. Teaser campaigns and early-bird offers are both great ways to create a buzz. You can also team up with your sponsors when it comes to promotion, running takeovers or giveaways on social media. Creating a unique hashtag can be a great way to encourage user-generated content and create a conversation online.
9. Sell tickets
Next up in your steps to organise an event: selling tickets. Come up with your ticket types and prices and create an events page that’s as inspiring as it is informative. You can customise your event page with Eventbrite to make it extra eye-catching. Consider early-bird prices, VIP tiers, and refund options. Eventbrite also enables you to monitor real-time ticket sales to see how effective your marketing tactics are.
10. Send reminders
In the days before the event, it’s essential to take the time to check in with everyone. And we mean everyone. Email attendees with instructions on how to find the venue or how to log in to your video hosting platform, check in with suppliers to confirm timings, and ask speakers if they have any special requests. Having these kinds of conversations in advance could save you valuable time on the day.
11. Come up with a contingency plan
While all of your hard work will go into making sure your event runs smoothly, it’s still best to be realistic and prepare for every outcome. That way, you can come up with a plan for how you might respond to unforeseen obstacles (like speakers cancelling, a venue falling through, or changing COVID-19 restrictions) and put measures like clear refund policies and virtual back-ups in place to help avoid potential catastrophes.
12. Go through your “little extras” checklist
Before the big day, take a minute to look over your event schedule and think about whether there’s anything you might have overlooked. Signs pointing the way to the venue, rubbish bags and bins dotted around the site, and an extra copy of the attendee list could save you some embarrassment on the day. For virtual events, double check platform settings, like which attendees or speakers can turn their mics on or off, for a more polished presentation.
13. Enjoy yourself
Delegate where possible, listen to the advice of experienced event planners, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. That means sharing important documents like the timetable and supplier contact details with others, so that there’s always someone on hand with essential event information when it’s needed. Once that’s all out of the way, focus on enjoying your event.
14. Remember post-event activities
Posting pictures and reposting messages from attendees on social media might just convince people that they should buy tickets to your next event. After all, no one wants to suffer from FOMO. It’s also a good idea to reach out to vendors and sponsors personally to say thank you and to ask for their feedback. Try to learn from their responses and see if there’s anything you could do better in the future.
15. Measure the success of your event
Take note of key metrics like attendee numbers, profit, lead generation, and survey responses. What gets measured, as they say, gets managed. By investing a small amount of time after each event, you can make those little tweaks to make the next one a greater success that exceeds your goals.
The importance of preparation
Taking the time to plan your event four to six months in advance will help you to turn any idea into a success. Up your event organiser skills and use these event management steps to help avoid any last-minute issues, and create an experience that your audience won’t be able to turn down.
Ready to start planning? Download our event planning resource package to guide you through the process.