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Tips for Successful Event Planning

Event planning can turn even the most capable person into a ball of nerves. But if you've been selected to plan your company's next holiday party, awards banquet or open house, relax. Our helpful tips can make the process go more smoothly and successfully.

Initial Considerations

First, consider how you want your event to look and feel. Think about: What kind of event are you holding? Who will attend? What is the reason for the event or celebration? What do you hope to accomplish? Do you have specific goals or outcomes that you expect? Keep in mind that your event should generate goodwill, excitement and enthusiasm about your company. You should use it to grow your business and as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with employees and your clients and customers.

Planning Your Event

Once you've defined the basic parameters, then you're ready to proceed with planning.

' Make a checklist 'Create a checklist to provide a step-by-step guide to organizing and executing a special event.

' Develop a budget 'This will provide you with a financial "blueprint" for the event. The budget should be specific, and include revenue opportunities (sponsorship, ticket sales, donations, etc.) as well as expenses such as printing, permits, insurance, speakers, food, supplies and security. Maintain good records, keeping track of all income and expenses. Also, expect the unexpected, extra expenses will come up -- so plan ahead.

' Schedule facilities 'The location and site of your event is critical for success. Selecting a site is more than just finding out what rooms are available. There are many factors to consider, including room capacity, whether you're having an in/outdoor event, if there are special needs for ramps/elevators, if you'll need a podium, stage or special equipment, and how many tables and chairs will be necessary for guests.

' Have plenty of food and drinks 'What kind of food will you serve? Lunch? Snack foods? Dinner? Buffet? Sit down? What kind of beverages will be available? Will they be served in a can, punch bowl, or some other way? If you intend to serve alcohol, ensure plenty of designated drivers are available to transport those who may be unable to drive home.

' Plan publicity/marketing 'Great publicity and marketing are the key to a successful event. There are many different methods you can use to get the word out about your program. Determine who you want to attend and then target your advertising accordingly. Consider supplementing paid advertising with inexpensive fliers, handouts, email messages and word-of-mouth.

' Book a speaker/entertainer 'Consider the following factors if you are planning a speaker, entertainment, or facilitator for an event: Who is the agent/manager for the speaker/entertainment? Does the speaker/entertainment appeal to a broad audience? How many people are expected to attend? Does the speaker/entertainment have special technical requirements for their presentation? Does the artist/entertainment require hotel or transportation arrangements?

' Arrange for parking 'If you're expecting a large number of guests, ensure there is ample parking. The parking you select should be easily accessible to the location of the event. If you have delivery trucks, caterers or special equipment being brought to the event, you will need to make sure everyone knows the best location for unloading.

' Evaluate the event 'One of the most ignored, yet important, elements of project planning is evaluation. If you want to determine how successful an event is, you'll need to collect feedback from participants. Create an evaluation form to hand out (and, if possible, collect) at the end of the event. To encourage participation, your evaluation form should be anonymous and short.

' Make reflections 'Once your event is over, take time to reflect back on it. Also consider the entire planning process and the feedback provided on the evaluation forms. Reflecting back will help you improve the event for the next time.

Regardless of the type of event you're planning, make sure it's meaningful and celebrates your company in a uniquely positive way. This will make your event an affair that is truly a successful business bash!
About the Author

Kate Smalley, Connecticut Secretary Transcription Services


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