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Event Planning – Life affirming or soul destroying?

August 16, 2010

Organising an event, conference or team building day can be a fun and creative process that gives you the opportunity to develop new ideas and rise to new challenges. Or it can be a time-consuming task that drains the life-force from you, adding furrows to your brow. Occasionally it can be a bit of both.

If involved in training and events a “Keep Calm and Carry On” attitude will stand you in good stead

If involved in training and events a “Keep Calm and Carry On” attitude will stand you in good stead

To make it more of the former and less of the latter, the key is to have an approach that will cover three key elements: Content – what is it that people will be doing/listening to?; Delivery – who is responsible for running the activity or programme on the day?; and finally, Venue – where will it take place?

All three will determined by the overall objective for your event and so this should be your first priority. Get as much information together as you can about why this event is taking place: what you want to get out of the event?;  what would a successful event look like at the end of the day?, what is your vision for the event?; what should the key message to participants at this event be?; what sorts of numbers are involved?; and what kind of budget is available?

You can then start to put together options for content, delivery and venue that will all underpin these objectives – it’s no use contacting stately homes, arranging stylish theming, fancy caterers and celebrity speakers (even if you had the budget for all of those) if the key message is intended to be one about best practice and efficiency in difficult economic times.

Planning can then start in earnest and you will need a timeline or schedule to check that everything is in place come the big day. A useful (if counter-intuitive) starting point is the day of or the day before the event. Put together a final check list of everything that should be organised by then and work backwards, fitting in checks and updates in the weeks before then working back through finalising content and delivery, advertising and promotion, sending out invitations to those involved, arranging travel or accommodation and booking the venue. As always, try to build in some contingency in both budget and planning schedule to allow for hold-ups or delivery problems which – while they may give you the opportunity to try something a bit more creative – could throw you off course for a while. Keep the event’s key objectives in mind to keep you on track.

A “Keep Calm and Carry On” attitude will stand you in good stead as sometimes impossible requests are made, deadlines rush past and the hours shrink in the run-up to your event. And once it’s all over and the event has gone (more or less) according to your beautifully laid plans, you can then start thinking about the next one.

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