There are things you should and should not do in order to pull off a great event. Whether you're seasoned or a first-timer, here are a handful of do's and don'ts for all event planners. Consider these, and you may avoid some common pitfalls and mistakes.
As you read, ask yourself: "Which ones resonate with me the most?"
Event Planner Do’s
- Establish your purpose. What is the purpose of your event? If you can answer that question without hesitation, you got this part of the process nailed down. Way to go! If not, it would be in the best interest of the event attendees and your organization if you took the time to determine the purpose before moving forward. The purpose serves as the foundation on which the event is built.
- Set a budget. Before you start planning, create a rough budget based on the money allotted to your event. If you don't have a working budget, there's no point in booking venues, hiring speakers, selecting a menu, etc. The size of the budget establishes the event's scope and scale, providing the framework for all financial decisions.
- Choose a great planning team. If you're leading a planning committee, choose one that's reliable, able to offer ideas and suggestions, and ready to help with the heavy lifting (e.g. visiting potential venue, researching guest speakers or entertainment, creating a program schedule, etc.). Remember to book your venue and preferred vendors as early as possible. Some get booked up to a year in advance.
- Market your event. The cornerstone of all promotion efforts is your event page or website. If you don’t have a site for the event, create an EventBrite page. The page should include a compelling description, speaker picture and bio, all vital information (location, dates, cost, etc.), and a great venue image. Once your event page is in place, get the word out to your target audience by sending an e-blast (or two!), mailing postcards, and if possible, hanging up posters where it's relevant. Promote the event on Facebook and on other social media networks that connect with your audience.
- Use professional services. To eliminate worry, use professional services. They're experts in their trade and have experience with event planning and execution. Remember: read reviews to see what others are saying before you book. Also, be sure to ask vendors to provide relevant documentation to support their service, like copies of their liability insurance certificates, risk assessments, health and safety policies, electrical testing certificates, etc.
- Submit paperwork and payments before the deadline. Send final payments, guest counts, and other time-sensitive information to vendors a day or two before the deadline. If there are any issues, you'll have the wiggle room you need to iron them out before it's too late. Plus, your vendors will appreciate having all of the final details and payments in order ahead of time.
- Think like a guest. Put yourself in the position of your guests. In your mind (or in person if you can!) walk through their experience step-by-step—from the moment they RSVP to the time they leave the venue at the end of the event. Take notes of anything that could be problematic or disappointing to your guests' experience then address those concerns with the relevant people—your planning team, the caterers, the venue manager, etc.
- Meet with your contact before the event. Arrange to meet your venue contact at least 2 hours before the start of the event. Together you can look at the room set up to ensure everything's as expected and you can go over last minute concerns and changes. Also, verify that the staff responsible for greeting your guests knows the name of your group and where to direct everyone.
- Bring volunteers up to speed before the first guest arrives. If you have volunteers who are helping with the event, be sure they're fully aware of timelines, plans, and instructions. There's nothing worse to a volunteer than not knowing how to answer basic event questions or not knowing what their role is during the event. Empower your volunteers by keeping them in the loop.
- Debrief the event. Debriefing just means asking and answering specific questions about the event itself. Schedule time with your planning team to analyze the event. Identifying what well went—and what didn't. What you discover will help you do things better in the future.
Event Planner Don'ts
- Don’t try to take care of everything yourself. Many event planners make the mistake of attempting to run the show by doing everything themselves. Unfortunately, that usually doesn't work—you'll become stressed out, overwhelmed, and exhausted.
- Don’t choose a venue hastily. Depending on the type of event you are planning, your venue choice may be crucial. Instead of quickly choosing a venue, do research and choose a venue based on your needs and preferences. If your guests are unhappy or uncomfortable with the venue, they will have a bad experience at your event.
- Don’t worry about pleasing everyone. You’ll never achieve this—no one can. If you try, you may feel like a failure. Instead of feeling frustrated or upset, focus on the people who are enjoying the event.
- Don't forget to double check everything. As mentioned earlier, when you arrive early you can meet with your venue and vendor contacts to double check everything—the registration area, event space, audiovisual set up, seating arrangements, meal time, etc. Don't skip this step. Just because you're working with professionals and every item on your checklist is marked off, doesn't mean a mistake or miscommunication can't happen.
- Don't forget to pray. It doesn't matter if you're planning a fundraiser for a nonprofit, a retreat for a women's group, a getaway for pastors, or a church-wide event, don't forget to pray through every step of the event planning process. Ask for wisdom and guidance—and don't forget to ask God for His blessings on the outcome of the event, too!
If you're looking for a great event venue with professional staff, we can help! We're a Christian ministry, all-inclusive conference center, and retreat site that's committed to connecting your group to God and each other—plus, making your event AWESOME. Get started here.