A guide to planning successful events: Part 2
Last time we began our discussion on the different phases of event planning. In Phase 1, you developed your list of event objectives, now it is time to set up the infrastructure so we can put them into action.
In Phase 2 we embark on the journey of turning our conceptual ideas into solid action steps:
Phase 2: PROGRAMMING — “What ingredients do I need to make this apple pie?
Develop a preliminary event program: Begin to wrap your mind around how this event actually looks by creating an event schedule from start to finish. This is a first draft, so allow yourself to be free here. Don’t get too wrapped up in getting it right. The purpose of this exercise is to take everything you have learned from Phase 1 and begin to apply it in a practical way.
This is where logistics are welcomed back into the conversation. Start to apply your out-of-the-box ideas in a realistic way without compromising on the innovation. If you find yourself getting too stiff, this is where you pull out all of your sketches from Phase 1 and bring back to life the creativity and excitement that you previously cultivated.
You should walk away from this exercise with a working event schedule, including different logistical elements (speakers, breakouts, breaks, meals, entertainment…etc) and their associated time frames. You should also have a good idea of potential event dates and venue choices.
Assign roles & responsibilities to your team members: Develop a list of clear expectations for each team member so each knows their allotted tasks. Assign tasks based on the strengths of each member and their ability to achieve the best results. For example, the stickler for the rules might make a good “objective enforcer” to make sure decisions are in alignment with event objectives; whereas the daydreamer might make a good event décor designer.
Create team categories to cover each area of the event. These team categories might differ from event to event (and will most likely have sub-categories within them) but some good starting categories might be: Venue Logistics, A/V Design & Logistics, Marketing & Messaging, Technology & Innovation, Décor & Graphics…etc. Essentially you must compile the list of ingredients you will need in order to make this event happen.
Create a meeting schedule, assign tasks & set deadlines: Assigning tasks and developing deadlines will ensure everyone is being held accountable to their roles and will limit the threat of oversights. Rule of thumb: for a smaller 2- to 3-hour event, starting the planning process one to two months prior might be adequate time. For a larger half-day or full-day event with multiple speakers and break-out sessions, it makes sense to start planning at least three to four months prior. Anything larger it is advised you allocate at least six to eight months of planning time to ensure the event is thoughtfully executed.
With this infrastructure in place, you are now ready to proceed into Phase 3, the Creative Logistics Phase. This is where we start to get into the nitty-gritty details. As always, contact me for more information or clarification on the phases we just covered!