Organizing an event can be difficult, especially if you’ve never been in charge of an event before. There are so many little details that it can seem overwhelming. You may have to deal with securing a venue, finding a caterer, handling attendee registration, working out travel arrangements for speakers, and more, depending on what type and how large of an event you’re doing. With all of that and more, it’s no wonder event coordinators get overwhelmed. Fortunately, if you follow these eight techniques to great event success, you won’t be quite as stressed out.
1) Have a goal
When you start organizing your event, you’ll have a clear overall goal: have a great event. But that might not be your only goal. You might want to grow your brand identity, sell a certain number of tickets, or raise a specific amount for charity. Your goal will vary depending on your industry and the purpose of your event, but you definitely need to set a goal when you start organizing it so you have something to work toward.
Remember that your goal needs to be realistic and measurable. If you set a goal that’s not something you can realistically accomplish, you’re going to fail before you even start. If your goal isn’t measurable, by the end of the event, you’ll have no way to tell if you actually achieved anything or not.
2) Use social media
Today, very few events aren’t advertised on social media in some way. It’s vital to getting the word out about your event, and it’s free. But you can make use of social media for more than just posting about your event and trying to grab media attention. If you have the budget to hire an event manager, you can use social sites to find potential hires and read reviews of them before reaching out. If you’re managing the event yourself, you can use Facebook, Twitter, and similar sites to find and learn about caterers, decorators, event venues, photographers, and more.
3) Why are your attendees coming to your event?
This sounds like an odd question, but it’s an important one. Why are your attendees taking the time and spending the money to attend your event? What will they get out of it? By understanding this, you can make certain that every part of the event provides them with value. Attendees should leave every luncheon, speaker session, panel presentation, and any other part of your event feeling like they’ve learned something or been entertained. If they leave your event feeling fulfilled and satisfied for attending, you’ve succeeded.
Networking starts with building connections. You may have some of these connections already, especially if your business has hosted events before. You may have the contact information for caterers, decorators, and a variety of other professionals you can rely on to help you pull your event together. If you don’t have these connections professionally, you may have them personally and can bring that information to the table.
Making use of your network can often provide you with more than just a vendor for your event; it may provide you with a discount or extras from that vendor. For example, if your business routinely uses the same caterer, they may give you a repeat-customer discount. You can also use your connections to get the best out of the speaker: someone you know or who is interested in your event may be more lively and entertaining than a speaker you hire.
5) Try new things
Don’t be afraid to try something different with your next event. Just because something has always been done one way doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best way. Perhaps you should try a different venue or bring in a different caterer. Maybe you should shake things up with a longer two-day event or bring in an additional speaker. Even if you don’t have the final say over the event or its budget, you can still suggest trying new things. If you’re working on an annual event and attendance has been down for a few years, doing something new can help bring those numbers back up.
6) Create an amazing experience
Besides giving your attendees a reason to come to your event, you also want to make certain that they have an amazing time. You want to make your event stand out and be memorable. It doesn’t necessarily take a large budget to make an event memorable, either. Having someone greet each attendee as they arrive or offering a few little extras here and there can go a long way.
Your speakers can also help a lot in this area. Inviting guest speakers who are experts in your field and who can share interesting insights or talk about changes in the industry can leave a great impression on your attendees, especially if the speaker is charismatic and energetic.
7) Who is your audience?
Your event should focus on a specific target audience. You’re probably not expecting the general public to want to attend your event, and if you are, it’s probably still a particular slice of the public and not everyone. A conference is usually aimed at those in your industry, while a product launch may be primarily aimed at the media and your investors. Know who you’re inviting so you can tailor your event more to their needs.
8) Enjoy what you’re doing!
Finally, enjoy your job. You may have been drafted into organizing this event, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Event organization isn’t a job that gets much of the glory or is in the spotlight, but that’s actually your goal: If your event goes very smoothly and has no problems, people shouldn’t notice everything that went into putting it on. It should look like it was effortless to your attendees. However, behind the scenes, everyone will know that you put in the hard work, time, and dedication to make the event the huge success it was, and that can be very rewarding.
Originally published Nov 11, 2016, updated Aug 11, 2020