Okay…get your minds out of the gutter people. The title of the blog is actually the message I received from an old friend’s daughter last month.
Carrie graduated from university last year and started her first “real” job at a professional association shortly thereafter. She was told that her job duties would evolve as needed but would be guided by a senior member of the team.
After the “senior member” of the team quit, her boss told her she would be planning the next big meeting for several hundred people was pretty much on her own. Knowing it was no small task, she called me in a panic. After talking her down (and referring her to this web site), I assured her that I would be happy to offer some suggestions on what a newbie needed to know.
Plan an Event – The First Step
I suggested she begin with the end in mind (Thanks Stephen Covey!). What was the end goal for this meeting? What was the focus and what did they need to accomplish? Her boss would be looking at several factors to determine the success of the event.
As has been mentioned once or twice on this blog, I stressed the importance of staying on budget. She was aware of the budget with the number being the only guidance she had received. The rest was up to her.
The next thing we talked about was an event planning checklist. When planning an event the ability to stay organized is key. An event planning checklist helps a planner stay organized with logistics, transportation, bookings, timelines and more. Due to the multitude of details she was about to become immersed in, the only answer was an event planning checklist. This would become her go-to and help ensure that no detail, no matter how small, would be missed.
Plan an Event- Location, Location, Location
Location is so important I explained things to consider included, but weren’t limited to, the geographic location, proximity to airports and hotels, availability of meeting and breakout rooms, suppliers and other possible needs (as opposed to wants).
She excitedly told me that her immediate thoughts were of a downtown venue right in the heart of things. She thought the delegates would want to be close to restaurants, bars and all the sites to see. I explained that every group was different and she needed to determine exactly what their needs were. Looking at a tightly packed schedule with little room for free time, she realized that a downtown location would eat up her budget without reaping any of the benefits of the setting.
Plan an Event – Details, Details, Details
In addition to budget, venue and organization we also touched upon staffing, transportation, entertainment, decor, suppliers and so much more! By the end of our initial conversation she understood the importance of staying organized, on top of every detail and determining the needs versus the wants. She realized that it wasn’t about making it the most glamorous or entertaining meeting but rather about planning the right meeting for this particular group of people at this particular time.
Whether it’s the 1st event you’re planning or the 121st, remember to keep the goal of the event in your sights and stay organized, on budget and, above all else, calm. All of your hard work will pay off with a successful event.