I am currently planning a major regional event here in the UK. If you have to plan a prestigious event yourself, you might appreciate my guide on the aspects of arranging an event, from start to finish!
1. Define your aims of the event
What is the concept? Before you can start to organise your event, write down a few lines about what the event is going to be about and what you hope to achieve. It’s helpful at this stage to have a meeting with everyone involved to discuss the event. Here is a list of points to cover:
o Decide on the subject for the event
o Discuss what you hope to achieve, for example
1 .Raise the profile of your business/organisation
2. Network with some sales prospects in a relaxed environment
o When do you want to hold the event?
o Where do you want to hold it?
o Who do you want to come to the event? How many?
o How and where will you promote the event to ensure that they come along?
o Do you want outside speakers? If so, who? What will they speak about?
o What budget do you have for the event?
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
o What else is going on at the same time as your event (both within your organisation and externally) – will this have an impact on your event?
o If you are, for example, running a training session, have you identified that there is a sufficient need for that particular topic?
o If you are inviting outside speakers, always make sure that, where possible, you have a ‘reserve’ choice in case your first choice isn’t available. If you have existing contacts that is fine but make sure you know they will be competent and “on message” – if in doubt contact an agency for advice (I recommend http://www.speakers-uk.com/ for no other reason that they will always spend time with you to make sure that you have a list of the right people at the right price). Watch out for expenses clauses as they can be hidden costs which mess up your budget.
2. Planning and logistics
Nominate a lead person to:
o keep track of all the tasks for the event
1. what has been done
2. what still needs to be done
3. who needs to do it
4. when it needs to be done by
5. budget and actual expense
Create a spreadsheet detailing all the tasks for the event. This ensures that all tasks for the event are recorded in one place, so that nothing is missed or forgotten.
Hold regular progress meetings for everyone involved in the event to ensure that everyone is aware of what stage the event is at, as well as any problems that have arisen. Any further tasks arising as a result of these meetings should be assigned and logged in the planning spreadsheet. Depending on the number of people involved, you may also find it useful to take minutes of the meeting.
Here are some of the main areas you will need to consider – although it will vary depending on the nature of your event.
o Allow plenty of time to plan and organise the event, particularly if you are inviting outside speakers as their diaries fill up quickly. A month is probably the bare minimum – more if it’s a large event with many speakers.
o Check deadlines!!
o Make sure that everything is arranged in plenty of time before the event, so that you’re not left with a last-minute panic the day before.
o If you find yourself with only a few people signed up with only 2-3 weeks to go before your event, don’t panic. This is fairly normal – we find that most people don’t sign up to our events until a week or two beforehand.
Venue and catering
o Decide on a venue for your event, bearing in mind the following factors (depending on the nature of the event, your needs will vary):
Location – is it easily accessible for your intended audience?
Size – ideally you want a venue that will fit everyone in, but not so big that you have lots of empty space
Cost – can you afford it? If your event has a charitable cause attached to it, please remember that some venues offer a discount for charities and not-for-profit organisations, so it’s worth asking