Event planning: how to stay on track

January 31, 2019

Who doesn’t like planning parties and events? 

The truth is, proper planning requires a lot of work. While it’s easy to get bogged down in the intricacies of event planning, if you stick to a list and script and keep an eye on the end product, it really can be fun and satisfying. The following tips and tricks are sure to help you reach your goals and make your attendees crack a smile.

The first stop: purpose

The first stop on this event planning road trip is to identify your purpose – why am I planning this event? Am I planning a product launch? Is it a surprise birthday party or 50th wedding anniversary? Maybe it is a corporate retreat, baby shower, awards ceremony, live competition or the perfect birthday party for your six-year-old nephew. Regardless of its purpose, each of the events listed here will be completely different.

The second stop: audience

It’s almost inextricably tied to purpose, but you need to know who your audience is. This comes after purpose because your audience isn’t always clear once you identify your purpose. Think about it, a product launch is for businesspeople, a birthday party or wedding anniversary could be any combination of children and adults. Furthermore, your six-year-old nephew’s birthday party is going to have a far different audience than a Sweet 16 birthday party. Other factors to consider when identifying your audience include gender and interests, where your audience is located and what is going to entice them to come.

NHTech Alliance TechOut, event planning by Cookson Communications

Third stop: everyone’s least favorite

Budget. Knowing your budget will help determine and narrow down the options available to you for all of the remaining stops on this trip. A budget helps to constrain your options, but it can also help make you more creative as you’re forced to think inside tight parameters and get creative.

Fourth stop: the basics

This one is easy-ish. You need to know the date, time and venue of your event. Date and time might seem obvious, and I’m willing to bet that the venue seems obvious too. Truth is, you need to know your purpose and audience before you even think about a venue. Odds are that a conference center is going to be a great venue for a corporate retreat, but probably not so much for that Sweet 16 we talked about earlier. Knowing your purpose and audience feeds into everything else.

The optional stop: promotion

Depending on the needs of your event, you may not need to invest a huge amount of time on promotion. For example, a birthday party may require an online invitation, Facebook event or paper invitation. It all depends on who your attendees are. A corporate retreat, product launch or live competition is going to require a different approach, such as writing a press release, having a social media promotional strategy, inviting media, etc.

Final stop: everything else, and snacks

This includes some of the items everyone thinks about when they consider planning an event and some that may be overlooked.

Menu: your more sophisticated palettes are going to prefer something vastly different than those who may be younger or pickier. Now is when you decide whether mac and cheese and sliders is better for your audience than duck confit and baked brie. There’s nothing wrong with either, as long as it’s fitting with those attending. The same rules apply when deciding on beverages.

NHTech Alliance Tech Women Tech Girls Annual Luncheon, event planning by Cookson Communications

Lighting and audio/visual: do you need extra lighting, a sound system and video options? Pro tip: test your lighting and audio/visual before your event starts. Trust me, no one likes a staticky or screechy microphone.

Rentals and decorations: you want your event to look great, right? I mean, come on! You put all this work into it, you should be able to sit at one of your rental tables and know you and your attendees are going to be comfortable. Pro tip: always order one to two more tables and tablecloths than you think you’ll need. You never know what might happen.

Photographer and videographer: do you need one?

The items that people forget: do you need permits for the space you are occupying? This is definitely something you should check on as soon as you settle on a venue. Same goes for hiring fire detail. Some venues require it and others do not. Make sure you check this box off quickly as processing and reserving detail and permits can take some time.

One final tip for the person planning the event: make sure you have enough support so you’re not carrying the whole load on your own. Planning an event is not easy and it does take a significant amount of time, but with the right mindset and a list of helpful tips, you’re sure to find success.

To check out Cookson Communications’ event planning work, click here.

Kathleen Procek
Kathleen Procek
Kathleen Procek is the Communications Coordinator at Cookson Communications. Kathleen’s experience is in social justice, community relations, campaign and volunteer organization and event management and she puts this to task communicating for results.

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