Whether you’re organising a professional conference or a music festival, the principles of good event organising remain the same. Though it may seem like an overwhelming task, so long as you adhere to some basic tenets, there’s no reason why your event won’t be a resounding success.
In this article, we break the process of organising an event down into 10 simple steps including; objectives, roles, budget, format, logistics, date & venue, event security, advertising, schedule and debrief. Follow our guide to make sure your event is a hit with your delegates and to take the stress out of planning it.
Define Objectives and Create Goals
Why are you organising an event? Is it to generate income or to raise funds? Is it to share information or impart learning? Is it to launch a new product or service? Or perhaps you want your event to do more than one thing at once? Whatever your reasons, make sure that you distil your objectives into a short mission statement. This will help you stay focused on the bigger picture if/when things get messy.
With your overarching objectives defined, create a list of some more specific goals. For example: generate £4000, feature in an industry magazine, gain 500 new social media followers or create excitement around your latest offering.
Top Tip: Where possible, use quantifiable metrics so that you have a concrete framework with which to measure your event’s success.
Surround Yourself with Good People
Unless you’re planning to do everything yourself, it’s best that you bring together a diverse team of people with different skillsets. Whilst too many cooks can spoil the broth, many (skilled) hands will make light work – and remember, a problem shared is a problem halved.
To avoid problems, make sure that everyone is given clear roles and duties, and that you open strong lines of communication with everyone (whether that’s daily stand-ups, a group chat or weekly meetings).
Top Tip: If you’re thinking about hiring a crew or additional event staff, it’s best to go through a reputable third-party staffing agency – Craigslist and Gumtree may be good for second-hand bookcases, but, with very few vetting policies, their reputations as staffing agencies are questionable.
Set a Budget
Before you plan anything, make sure that you have a comprehensive budget in place – this should include all possible expenses, sources of income, sponsors and contingency expenditure. Failure to budget makes it far more likely that you will overspend in one area (say, paying the band) at the expense of another (the catering, for example). A good budget makes sure that your strategy is feasible and economical.
Top Tip: Look for ways to keep costs down. Can you get volunteers to work for free? Is the venue cost-effective? Do you know a good amateur photographer?
Now that you have some figures to work with, you can start to seriously consider what your event is going to look like. To achieve your objectives, consider what type of event would work best – would an intimate or niche setting work, or would it be better to use a large-scale, public venue? Should there be a theme? What will the event look and feel like? Will there be speakers or activities – and how will these fit with the feel of your event?
Top Tip: Before calling up any venues, caterers or musicians, decide what your ideal event looks like and work toward that vision. Though compromises will likely be made along the way, having the perfect event in your head will keep your efforts streamlined.
Choose a Date and Venue
Don’t pick your date to suit you. Instead, choose a day when people are likely to go, “All right! I’ll go to that.” This means checking your community calendar to see whether any other events are taking place that may draw people away from yours, and picking a time that works for your target demographic – for example, students are very unlikely to attend an event that takes place at 8am on a Saturday.
Your venue needs to be priced within your budget, easily accessible, able to accommodate something close to your ideal event and be helpful and flexible both leading up to the event and on the day. Your venue will probably be your greatest expense, so it’s important you pick the right one.
Top Tip: Choose a venue near to where your delegates are already based!
Logistics. Logistics. Logistics
An event is a complex thing. And, because every event is unique, there’s no general logistics list you need to consider. That said, most event organisers need to make provisions for parking, disability access, necessary equipment and extra items (such as drinking water for speakers, brochures, feedback forms and badges).
Additionally, create a contingency plan that anticipates any emergencies, accidents and problems. Some common problems at events include: PA system failure, late arriving VIPs, inclement weather, breakages and losses and injuries and accidents. Think about these, and any other issues you may face, and work out what you’ll do if any occur.
Top Tip: To make sure you don’t forget anything crucial, sit down with your team and run through the day from each of their points of view – then do the same for each type of delegate. This will ensure you cover all your bases.
Safety and Security
Event security and safety is of paramount importance. When you organise an event, your delegates are under your supervision. This means that having adequate and compliant safety and event security procedures in place is critical. Get this crucial aspect wrong and you could end up with a ton of bad press or even a fine or penalty.
If you’re organising a large event or expecting an event to be particularly lively, make sure you consider hiring event security; when it comes to event security and safety, your best option is to leave it up to the professionals.
Top Tip: Churchill Security can provide event security guards, staff and stewards to supplement your crew in the run up to your event and on the day. Our expertly trained security officers can help with health and safety compliance and security planning, and will ensure that your event runs as smoothly as possible.
Marketing and Advertising
Once you have everything in place, you can start to get the word out about your event. Think about what the best way to reach your target demographic is – which social media platforms they use, where they hang out, which websites they browse and whether you can reach them over the phone. Prepare brochures, inform the media, send e-mail blasts, create landing pages and make phone calls. The amount of effort you put in here will pay off in spades on the day.
How your marketing campaign will look will depend very much on the details of your event, your target audience and your existing brand. However, so long as you tailor it to your delegates and provide them with an enticing opportunity, you will see some great results.
Top Tip: Use marketing channels to tell people about how great your event will be for them. Highlight the benefits of attending, what they can expect to see and why it’s important that they attend.
On the Day
Stay calm! So long as you have prepared properly and have made sure that everything is in place, your event will almost certainly be a success. Still, that’s not to say that unexpected and unforeseeable circumstances won’t arise on the day. In all likelihood, they will. But that’s why you have a contingency plan.
Ensure good communication between yourself and your team and particularly with your security guards, staff and stewards. Keep all team members in the loop, and arrive early to make sure that everything is set up properly.
Top Tip: Enjoy yourself and take lots of pictures – they’re great for advertising next year’s event, social media marketing and internal communications.
Debrief and Chill
Once the dust has settled, conduct a post-review meeting to assess what you did well and what you could’ve done better. If you handed out feedback forms, collate the data to see what your delegates thought. Review your budget and assess whether you met your objectives and achieved your goals. Finally, decide whether you’ll run this type of event again.
Churchill Security is a leading national provider of SIA licensed security guards and a member of the ACS Pacesetters – which represents the top 15 percent of ACS approved contractors. We provide expert event security solutions to organisations and individuals in a wide range of sectors. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.