How to plan an event

Looking to plan an event? But unsure where to start? We’ve got you covered with some handy tips.

Like anything, the first thing to do is to decide what you want to do and how you want it to look and then go from there, it’s not an easy task but it’s worth it! Just remember, no two events are the same, but no matter how large or small, they tend to follow the same roadmap.

Create an Event Plan

Delivering an event takes a lot of planning and preparation, it’s not something where you can just wake up one morning and be ready to deliver that afternoon. Before you jump into the logistics such as which venue or speakers to invite, you need to identify the purpose of the event as well as setting goals, key selling points and objectives. Listed below are five key questions to ask yourself, which should help:

  • How do you want your event to look?
  • What time should the event be and how long?
  • What marketing will be used and who are you targeting?
  • Why should anyone attend the event and what makes it different?
  • Is there a cost to the event?

Now that you’ve got your goals and objectives down on paper, you can start having a think about some of the key event details:

  • Date – don’t have to have a definitive date at this point but start with the month or even time of year and then you can work with venues on availability of meeting rooms
  • Attendees – in terms of numbers, how many and who are you aiming for, this will aid the next point.
  • Location – do you have in mind where you’d like the event? Start creating a shortlist.
  • Type of event – new product? A one-day event? Conference? Awards? Networking? A dinner?
Marketing and deciding on the branding

Promote, promote, promote. You can never do enough promotion, and if you think you’ve done too much you still probably haven’t! Start deciding what your key selling points are, what’s the right marketing tool to reach your audience and what makes your event different. Create an effective marketing strategy to connect with your attendees before, during and after an event.

Alongside designing a marketing strategy need to think about the event branding.

  • Name of the event – crucial as this will be all over the event
  • Theme
  • Logo, colours and fonts
  • Touch-points– social assets, email signature, signage, programmes etc. When and how will people see the event? Do all the assets feel like they’re part of the same campaign?

Creating a marketing and promotional plan can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. The plan is to spread the word and drum up excitement. Starting with the event date is a great step and then work backwards. Decide on the launch date and work from there with steps including; save the date, and time to promote any early bird prices. Scheduling announcements of speakers and the programme is a great idea, but things don’t always work to a deadline. Your plan is a working document so be prepared to be flexible and have some element of ‘going with the flow’.

Plan the programme

Start with an idea of what it will look like, and the final running order can come at a much later stage. Teasers work well when you don’t have much to promote for external messaging.

This will allow you to plan for sponsor opportunities, exhibitors, and speakers. It’ll give you an idea of what content can be offered to sponsors, how many speakers you are looking for etc.

Identify and select your technology

When you have identified your goals and objectives, you can then figure out what you’ll need to make sure it’s achieved. You can then move on to what you want / can afford based on your budget.

Is the event ticketed? The answer to this should be ‘yes’ – even if it’s free. There are many online platforms that allow you to sell tickets for your event. That way you can keep track of how many attendees you are accommodating for and ensure you don’t exceed the capacity of your venue. Handy tip, be sure to ‘cap’ the numbers allowed on the online platform so that you don’t exceed what your venue can host.

After your event is set up, move onto lighting, sound, or infrastructure such as staging is needed and decide on a supplier for these elements.

Project Management tools and software

Hopefully, you’re not having to fly solo and will have a team to hand to help you deliver the event. As your team will be working on different elements individually or together, you’ll need to ensure everything is complete (and in the relevant timeframe) and keep everything organised. We’d recommend having a project manager who will oversee everything and use project management tools to keep everyone up to speed. Plan out the work and ensure everyone knows what they are responsible for.

Practical considerations

Below are some elements which can sometimes be overlooked:

  • Health and Safety – conducting a risk assessment
  • First aid – decide who is the first aider on the day. For larger events, you could ask a first aid organisation to attend
  • Transport – is the venue easily accessible?
  • Access – ensure your event is accessible for everyone. Share information pre-event and recommend that delegates contact you in advance if they have a particular access need. More information on making your event more accessible can be found here: 10 Ways To Make Your Events More Accessible – Eventbrite
  • Photography – do you want photo or video recordings from your event? If so, you need to ensure that you signpost that photography will be taking place and include how people can opt-out should they wish. This could be added to the terms and conditions when they sign up.
Additional things to consider:
  • Have a run-through of the plan for the day and share it with all the necessary people. Let everyone know where they will be on the day, what time they are needed and what they are responsible for
  • Are all jobs allocated for the event?
  • Admin (forms/paperwork) do you have copies of everything to hand/ in accessible folders? Do you need to print anything?
  • Do suppliers all have the relevant information and timings?

The event doesn’t finish once the door closes behind the final attendee. Make sure you have a follow-up email scheduled to thank people for attending the event as well as a survey for any feedback.

If you’re thinking of organising an event, meeting or conference but don’t know where to start, don’t worry we’ve got you covered. Get in touch with our friendly team for advice on how Horizon Leeds can help, we’re here to make your dream virtual event a reality.