As part of Business Planning month in the connection eXchange I was excited to talk to my fabulous events management coach Jade McKenzie from Event Head about what it takes to run an event in your business this year.
As I’m sure you know we’re running a number of large events this year – check them out here >>> EPIC Events, and can I tell you, it’s been such a huge learning curve and Jade has helped me so much along the way. Today we chat to Jade to find out some of the key things that you need to think about when planning an event, how to ensure you meet your objectives and get what you want out of your event and create an experience that is memorable and extraordinary.
How can I ensure that I meet my event objectives when it comes to creating an event?
Plan effectively and be realistic. In regards to the logistics and running of the day, watertight planning is key. I created my Ultimate Event Toolkit specifically for my own events as I needed something comprehensive that covered the bases for most events and using it means that on the day I know I have already thought about the capabilities of the venue, the venue staff know what needs to be done and when, my team knows what their tasks are, the suppliers all know when they need to set up and pack down, my speakers know what they are expected to do and when and much, much more. This all means that objectives for the day can be met with ease.
For your financial objectives and attendee numbers, write down all of your goals and assess if you currently have the means to attain them. If not, perhaps look at a more attainable goal then look at what you can do to improve your odds. Take consistent and inspired action to connect with your target audience and even come up with special offers and promotions to entice more ticket sales such as early bird or 2-4-1 offers.
What time frames should I give myself when planning to run an event and does the size impact this?
If you are not used to running events and don’t have the suppliers on speed dial and the planning templates already on hand, I always recommend you give yourself as much time as possible to plan and sort out all of the behind the scenes logistics.
I always say that the minimum amount of time you should give yourself is 8 weeks if you are looking at a smaller event of about 25 people, and then look to increase this in 4 week blocks the larger the number. For example events for 25 – 75 people I would have at least 12 weeks up my sleeve, for events of 75 – 125 people at least 16 weeks and so on. For many large scale events like gala dinners or conferences, planning begins 12 months in advance.
For really effective planning, and for those who still need to run the rest of their business at the same time, give yourself enough time to not only work on building the event itself, but also on building up your following and engaging with your target audience so when you put the tickets on sale – they sell like hotcakes!
Are there key tasks that I need to think about when planning an event?
Absolutely! Events have many moving parts and you need to keep on top of all of them. Some of the key things you need to be thinking about are:
Your purpose – why do you want to do this event, what do you want to get out of it and who is your audience?
Your timelines – what are your timelines for this event and how do all the smaller tasks fit into that?
Your budget – what are all of your costs, how will you fund the event and how many attendees will you need to break even?
Your venue – what type of venue do you need, how much will it cost and does it have all the facilities you require or will you need to hire in additional services?
Your ticketing – how are you selling the tickets, does the money from the sales come to straight away or post event, are you offering an early bird or similar promotion and are your tickets refundable or transferable?
Your promotional plan – what are you going to do to promote your event, how often and with what content?
Your legal requirements – do you require attendees to sign waivers, do you need ticket holders to agree to certain terms and conditions or do you require Public Liability or Professional Indemnity insurance.
Your run sheet – how do you want the day to run, what time will each activity be done and by who?
Your event team – who will be assisting you on the day and what tasks will you need to allocate to them?
There are plenty of other tasks you need to be on top of which vary from event to event so sitting down and planning your event from start to finish will allow you to have a birds eye view of what needs to be done and when.
How do I manage risk when planning for an event?
There are different types of risk for different types of events. The main ones are financial and physical but you may have different types of risk depending on what you are doing. Whatever the case may be, be conservative and ensure you have explored all avenues.
In terms of financial risk, don’t book in an expensive venue for 200 people with a water tight cancellation policy if you don’t know whether or not you can sell that many tickets. Keep your costs as low as possible and be prepared to compromise or think smarter. Read all of your suppliers contracts and understand the terms and conditions as well as the payment schedules. Ask yourself, if I had to cancel for any reason or go ahead with only half the numbers I was expecting, would that put me in financial distress?
If you are running an event that includes physical activity you will need to ensure everyone who participates is of a certain level of fitness, that there is First Aid equipment or professionals onsite and that waivers have been prepared by a lawyer and signed.
What are your 5 key tips for running a successful event?
- Don’t just think about the dry stuff, think about the experience you want to create for your attendees. How do you want people to feel on the day? How can you make that happen?
- What do you want attendees to do on the day? Sign up to a premium offering / buy your book / look to you as an expert in a certain industry? Have a defined goal for what you want other than to sell tickets and use that to shape the content of your event or how you communicate with them post event.
- Be prepared to be unprepared. No matter how well planned an event is, there are always things that pop up last minute. Chances are the attendees won’t notice and if it is something impactful like not having enough workbooks or gift bags, then apologise and ensure steps are taken to get it all sorted as soon as practicable.
- Ensure you have a good team behind you or person to support you. Whether they are volunteers, paid assistance or your sister for your event of 10 people or 50 people, ensure that there is someone you can turn to on the day and ask for help when you need it.
- Prepare your post event work beforehand. Trust me, the work doesn’t end when the event does. In fact, you can have just as much! Draft your thank you emails and insert the sponsor and thank you links, draft social media updates, draft the wrap up blog post and draft your feedback survey. Do whatever you can to get a head start as you will be exhausted for a few days afterwards and will thank yourself for being so organized!
Jade McKenzie is an event professional and coach for heart-centered entrepreneurs and business owners who have a positive message to share through their events and workshops. With over a decade of experience in event management and business development, she has an unrelenting passion for giving her clients the ability to step into their spotlight and shine.
You can learn how to run your own events and workshops with confidence and ease at her 2015 Intensives: www.eventhead.com.au/2015classes or access your free ‘8 Weeks to Event Success’ checklist and articles to help plan your own event through www.eventhead.com.au.
If you have an event coming up then feel free to list it below! We’d love to support you and for more information on the connection eXchange events head to our EPIC EVENTS PLUS page.