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Whether it’s an alumni happy hour, a town hall forum, or a health education class, you may find yourself trying to make key decisions to make your event successful. Today, I would like to share some steps with you from those lessons I learned to make an event successful in the event industry. These steps are not entirely linear or comprehensive. However, this is a tool to provide a framework if you are new to the event planning world. This timeline is designed to be 10 to 12 weeks long, but student groups may need to condense that based on semester deadlines and other commitments.
Step 1- Planning a Successful Small Event:
Articulate Your Goals And Determine Your Budget
You cannot plan a successful event if you do not know what you are trying to accomplish or what your resources are. Clearly identify what you hope to achieve through the event and know what capital you have to make it happen. The budget should account for a venue, refreshments, marketing and promotion, and other miscellaneous needs you have.
Step 2- Planning a Successful Small Event:
Identify Your Target Audience
A target audience can be as broad or narrow. It might be a geographic community, a social group, or those impacted by a particular issue. The target audience should tie clearly to the goals of your program. You must know what your audience wants to accomplish, so now who needs to be in the room for that to happen?
Step 3- Planning a Successful Small Event:
Look For Key Partners And Local Champions
In many cases, events falter because the planners fail to engage those who are already connected to that issue or the target community. A collaborating partner or strong local champion can dramatically increase the reach and impact of the occasion. Some sample considerations are: Who are the community stakeholders and influencers? What connections do you already have in the community? and Who can you engage as a full (even co-branded) partner for the occasion. It is important to be a partner with the right person.
Step 4- Planning a Successful Small Event:
Select Your Date, Time, And Venue
The earlier you can lock in the location of your program, the sooner you can prepare for marketing. Ensure that the space select is accessible to your target audience and can accommodate the needs of your event. Try to look at the location through a stranger’s eyes. Is the specific room easy to find? Are the restrooms easily accessed? and What might be barriers to someone attending a program here? (For example, parking).
You should make similar considerations for your date and time. Would your target audience be more likely to attend daytime or evening events? Would they prefer a weekday or weekend?
While it may sound obvious, a common mistake that event planners make is basing these decisions on what is convenient for them rather than what meets the needs of their community event.
Step 5- Planning a Successful Small Event:
Develop Your Marketing And Promotion Plan Early
A lot of legwork goes into planning an event, and then it feels like a mad dash to promote it. Your marketing plan needs to be an integral part of the process. For most events, I recommend having your location booked and initial marketing materials ready 6-8 weeks in advance. While this may not be feasible for all events, here are some things to consider: You want to send invitations early enough that calendars are open, but not so early that people forget about your program.
Four to six weeks is often a good general timeframe for community-focused events. How will you get the word out? Options include newsletters, email blasts, mailed invitations, social media, print ads, and word-of-mouth. This is a great opportunity to engage with the key partners and local champions
Step 6- Planning a Successful Small Event:
Execute Your Event
Now that you’ve planned an awesome event, make it happen! I often use day-of-event checklists and clear agendas with timelines and assigned tasks to make this as stress-free as possible. Remember that some things are simply out of your control, such as bad weather, and that’s okay.
BE specific in terms of roles and responsibilities among the team members. Allotting the responsibility since day one is highly important. It helps to perform better and makes an event successful. Make sure you plan a meeting with your team member every day to check if everyone is on the same page or no. You must ensure everyone is working as per plan. Anything changed or added needs to put across every team member.
Step 7- Planning a Successful Small Event:
Assess And Plan For Next Time
After your event, make sure to take time to evaluate successes and identify opportunities for improvement. In some cases, your evaluation will be formalized such as by a survey, while in others, it might be an after-action review by the planning team. Seek input from attendees and your collaborating partners. Keep an open mind and know that successful event planning is a learning and ever-changing process.