Or, How to Plan a Successful Event in Ten Simple Steps
Corporate event planning has a lot of moving parts to keep track of. From defining the purpose of your event to picking the perfect host, these ten simple questions are a great way to focus your efforts so that your event can be a true success.
1. Start With Your WHY—What is the PURPOSE of This Event?
Muddled meetings are a mess. Are you designing a fundraiser? Is this a training time? Are you rewarding/recognizing top achievers? Is this a kick-off meeting? What exactly are we doing…and WHY are we gathering? Be careful about having too many spotlights. When you begin with the b-i-g “Why?” for your event, many of the other factors will fall into place. Clarity of purpose will help you plan a magnificent meeting.
2. Focus On The Right WHAT—Your Attendee’s EXPERIENCE
What matters most is the feeling(s) you create at your meeting!
Plan everything—the venue, the speakers, the theme, around what you want your guests to experience at your special event. Build your entire meeting around how you want your people to feel. What are the three top takeaways you want your team to walk away with? Begin your planning with these end results in mind—from your audience’s perspective, not your own.
3. Select A Great WHERE—Choose The Ideal VENUE
You can have your people excited about your event before it even happens. How? Choose a venue that creates a sense of anticipation. “Wow! We get to meet here.” Sometimes, you are simply not able to get the venue you want. If you can’t meet at a winery, theater, or cool museum, what can you do to make your meeting space more appealing to the eyes, ears, and hearts of your guests? Note: This is about more than décor. Go beyond center pieces. Make your event space attractive and memorable with great staging, sound, and lighting.
4. Find A Wonderful WHO—Get A Great HOST/MC
The right Master of Ceremonies will help make your event a super success. Tasteful humor is key. The most critical things a great emcee brings: Warmth, energy, smooth transitions, and a fun/friendly vibe. Be sure to look at video footage and get testimonials from clients who have used this host at a meeting like yours. Key: You are looking for someone who will represent you and your organization with excellence and enthusiasm. Be careful about hiring a celebrity for this role. You want someone who makes it about your organization—not about themselves.
5. Think About the WHENS—Make Sure You Figure Out the TIMING of everything
When will this event happen? When will your program begin? When do you need your production team on site? When will you send announcements/invitations? When will you have dinner? When will the entertainment begin? When will your keynote speaker start/stop? When wil you schedule your post-event massage? : ) Big Tip: Have a one-page W.S. What’s a W.S? It’s an easy to read Working Schedule page that you must have on site. Get it into the hands of your AV Team, Event staff, and all speakers who will be participating in your event. Make note of the time frames for every part of the program.
6. Bring the WOW factor—Give Them Something to REMEMBER
What can you do to make this a super-memorable meeting? Here are some ideas: Think about how you can involve your attendees. Nobody wants to sit through a lecture. Can you bring in an interactive keynote speaker? Would your group enjoy a team-building experience where they create something beautiful? Can you provide each guest with a lovely gift item as they leave the event? Would your CEO be willing to appear/disappear in a magical illusion on stage? How will you wow them?
7. LIFT Your People—ELEVATE Your Presenters
This starts with something simple, but often neglected. Put your VIPs and presenters on a well-lit elevated stage! You want to send your attendees a message: Our people are important, and we want you to see (and hear) them. Giving them proper introductions via video or from your MC is also important. If you have a giant room, seat people as close to the platform as possible. Consider using IMAG to enhance the visibility of your speakers, award-winners, and attendees in the house.
8. WHO Will Greet Your Guests?—Prioritize HOSPITALITY At Your Meeting
Consider (literally) rolling out a red carpet for your attendees as they arrive. Greet them with friendly hosts—ideally your team members—as they arrive. Hire other vendors to work on the décor. You are in the people biz. Remember as an Event Planner you are truly in the hospitality industry not the flowers and balloons business. Learn a lesson from WAL*MART, the most profitable retail business in the world. Have greeters to welcome your guests.
9. WILL This Be Enjoyable?—Include The FUN Factor!
It’s a sin to produce a boring event. Don’t let it happen. Make sure your attendees have fun. This might mean hiring one of the Clean Comedians. It can also happen when your leaders are willing to wear themed costumes on stage. Perhaps you can have your legal team play musical instruments. Again, put yourself in your attendees’ mindset. They are not yearning for more content. They want comedy, participation, laughter, and most of all they want to have a good time. Take some time to brainstorm ways you can ensure that your people feel entertained and energized at your meeting.
10. WHAT Will You Serve for Food?—Delight Them With DELICIOUS Bites
Rubber chicken dinners? No thanks. Your guests will evaluate much of the success of your event based on what you serve them to eat. But remember: You don’t have to spend your entire event budget on food. Do plan to serve them delicious, healthy meals and/or appetizers. Secret weapon: Consider offering buffet style food service. This will do three great things for you: A) Your attendees will get to choose what they put on their plate. B) Your event will likely run on time when you do not have a looooong plated dinner. C) You won’t have to worry as much about the presentation of the meal at the table, you can focus on heightening the impact of your event in all of the other ways noted above.
What Does It Take To Plan a Great Event?
Most of all, it takes you. It takes your empathy, brilliant organizational mind, and awesome people skills. This checklist is a great place to start, but it’s just the beginning. You are the hero of your event! Go make it happen. You got this!
As the president and founder of Clean Comedians, Adam Christing has given nearly 4,000 live speeches and comedy performances for audiences in 49 of the 50 US States. He is the author of several humor and personal growth books and has been profiled in Success Magazine and featured on more than 100 Radio & TV shows including Entertainment Tonight, ABC World News, FOX News, and PBS.
He is passionate about using laughter not only to make events great but also to educate and inspire audiences
Looking for a speaker? Find a spectacular host for your next great event here.