My team and I recently had the opportunity to plan a large event that benefited our chamber of commerce and local artists. It was an event that took eight months to plan and required a lot of hard work from my volunteers. The day after the event I was asked why I thought the event was successful and what I learned from the experience. I was not able to give a complete answer at the time but now that I've had a few days to reflect on the question I can. Below is a list of seven tips that I believe will help you plan a great client party, benefit event, retreat, or fundraiser in your local community. Define and share your vision for the event before you start planning or creating your strategy. Start with what you want your guests or clients to walk-away from the event feeling, thinking, and experiencing. Go to the place of your event and visualize how the event will unfold at the setting. Once you have a vision it’s time to share it with others and ask them to embrace the vision and journey with you as you make it a reality.
Surround yourself with a great support team that believes in your vision. Empower them to take ownership in your vision and delegate specific portions of the event that compliment their skill set and strengths. Trying to run an event all on your own with no delegation or trust in a team is a recipe for disaster.
Develop a strategy for achieving your vision. This strategy must include your marketing plan, your event setup and coordination, your volunteer/staffing requirements, your facilities management, etc. I like to envision the experience that each participant will have that is associated with the event and outline every detail that affects them. Put yourself in their shoes from the moment they learn of the event to the moment their experience at the event is over. The goal is to strategize how each of these groups of people will participate in your vision and have a great experience.
Hold yourself and your team accountable to deadlines and results. Accountability is the friend of greatness. Don’t be afraid to replace someone on your team that is not meeting deadlines or getting the results you need to achieve your vision. Hold regular meetings with your team to get a status report on the areas that have been delegated to them.
Complete at least two practice runs of the event prior to the big day. Practice runs should be thorough enough for your team to identify any potential problem areas or “weak” points in your strategy for conducting your event. Make any changes that need to be made during the practice runs and notify all participants affected by the changes. These practice runs serve as a great opportunity to get people more aligned with your vision for the event.
Develop your contingency plans. If possible, make sure you have a Plan B if something goes wrong with any part of your original plan. While predicting every hiccup or mistake is impossible, you can reduce the stress and impact by having a contingency plan ready and easy to implement.
Have fun and enjoy the fruits of your labor. A properly planned event will have a certain level of stress but it should also be fun and a time of celebration as you watch your vision come to life. Be sure to thank your team for a job well done and make sure they are recognized publicly.
Question: What would you add or take away from this list?
Make it a great day!