9 Steps to Planning a Corporate Event
Have you been asked to plan a corporate event and don’t know where to start? Below is a peek into our FREE 24-page, 9-step guide “So You Want To Run An Event” which you can download from our homepage. It’s full of tips, tools and further free downloads!
So where do we start...
Step 1: Know Your Event Objectives
It goes without saying that you will want your event to go well, whatever that means. But to judge something as having gone well, you need to have a clear idea about what you want to achieve. That can be easier said than done.
Write yourself a ‘brief’ for the event and ask what it is that you need out of this event. Whatever answer you come back with, challenge yourself again. Keep going until you have a very clear set of answers. These will become your objectives (you might even come to the conclusion that an event isn’t the best way to achieve them)!
Step 2: Know your Budget
It seems that there are two schools of thought when it comes to approaching event budgeting:
1. Have a figure in mind or that has been made available - and make the project fit it.
2. Have no figure in mind, but price up the project as per your vision, and see what it comes to.
Neither way is absolutely right or wrong but in both cases, the real challenge is not so much about managing the budget, it’s about managing your own expectations (or perhaps someone else’s).
Step 3: Create an Action Plan
The trick is to use the objectives and brief that you created in step one to create the picture; the vision of what your event should look and feel like; and to then start taking small steps towards it.
Part 1 of the Action Plan is to break your event project down into each broad component part. Once you’ve done that, break down each subcomponent into more detailed parts.
Part 2 of the Action Plan is to create a timing plan so that you know what has to be done, by when. The benefit of this is two-fold: firstly it helps you prioritise and secondly, if you have a specific date for your event, it helps you work out if, realistically, you even have enough time to deliver the event!
Part 3 of the Action Plan is to create a team to help you deliver your event project. You may be the lead organiser or have been appointed to manage the project but whoever said ‘many hands make light work’ had probably just arranged a three-day conference!
Step 4: Select Your Venue Partner
You will need to create a venue brief and gather information relating to your requirements from a wide range of venues. Once you have a list of 4-5 possibilities, carry out a recce to see the places for yourself. You’ll be amazed how different things may be when seen on the ground. We only ever go with our 1st choice venue from desk research about 20% of the time following a recce.
Step 5: Create Your Programme
The content is your product. This is what your event is all about. Ask yourself what content is needed to achieve your objectives. Budget clearly has an impact on who you can approach to speak at a conference or dinner, or what level of entertainment you can have at say, an annual awards ceremony. But the content must be on brief.
Step 6: Select Your Suppliers
Although this is your project to design, develop and deliver, you know that you can’t do it on your own. Regardless of what your event is and what your objectives are, in addition to hosts, speakers and entertainment, it is highly likely that you will also need to draw on a whole host of other suppliers.
You and your suppliers are your team, and just as teams can win or lose depending on the abilities and attitudes of individual team members, your event will only ever be as good as your suppliers can make it - and you are responsible for picking your suppliers.
Step 7: Shout From the Rooftops
This is all about communication. You will need to create a brand identity to actually communicate; create a booking website; establish an email campaign; you might want to form a relationship with a 3rd party to help promote your event...You may even need to incentivise registrations. The message needs to be broadcast to the right audience in the right way. If your potential audience isn’t responding, the answer is most probably NOT to simply shout louder.
Step 8: Manage the Big Day
The event day is really all about delivery, which can be broken down into two components: operational and content.
In your action plan in step 3, you will have worked out who will be helping you deliver the event on the day. In the weeks running up to the event, you should allocate roles to specific people.
You will also need to create an event schedule - a chronological plan outlining what is happening at any given point in the whole event set up and delivery process.
This is what the event is all about. As we mentioned before – this is your product! Allocate someone to time-keep and manage speakers. They will also be able to convey delays or advancements to venue staff outside of the event room. Encourage interaction between the audience and speakers both inside the event room and at refreshment breaks.
Step 9: Ask – How did We Do?
Let’s go back to the original question in step 1... how do you know the event went well and did it achieve its objectives? Now is the time to evaluate!
The nature of your event and its audience will determine what kind of evaluations you can carry out but there are a few routes that can help create a rounded picture of the event’s success and again it’s worth bearing in mind you should look at your project operationally and from a content point of view. You should consider using the following routes:
monitoring social media
an electronic post event evaluation
a team debrief
Wherever it is that you want to get to - enjoy your event journey!
(And don’t forget to download our FREE 24-page 9 Step Guide to planning a corporate event from our home page.)