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7 Steps to Creating an Event Plan

We have been there. Despite our best intentions and extreme effort, your event, the one you spent hours preparing for, fails.
Creating a detailed event plan is an essential step in organising a successful corporate event. A well-crafted plan can help you stay organised, enable cleaner communication and to mitigate risks. All that work before you even consider the on-day guest experience.
We will be discussing the importance of a detailed event plan and provide you with a step-by-step guide to creating your own.

Why an Event Plan is so important

There is a reason the saying "fail to plan, plan to fail" exists. Without adequate and clear preparation we often find ourselves missing steps.
For those who regularly do the groceries, what happens when you have a recipe in mind, but not a list written down? If you are anything like me, you will end up buying half the ingredients you need and a whole bunch of stuff you don't, like bulk dishwashing detergent.
A great event plan, or even an adequate on ensures a few things:
  1. It will help you stay organised and on-track
  2. It will allow for efficient communication (and perhaps less meetings!)
  3. It helps identify and mitigate risks, or capture additional opportunities
  4. It allows for clear budgeting and resource allocation
  5. It can improve the guest experience and desired results.
So, five reasons why you need an event plan when organising a work event, or any other event.
But you already knew this. You are here to capture that plan and turn it into your own.

7 Steps to creating a detailed event plan

There are seven simple, and easy to follow steps that you can take away and make your own
  1. Define your goals and objectives
  2. Research your audience and event location
  3. Create a timeline and schedule
  4. Develop a budget and allocate resources
  5. Create a detailed agenda and schedule of activities
  6. Plan for contingencies
  7. Finalise and distribute the plan
  8. Review and reflect on the event to find opportunities for the future.

1. Define your goals and objectives

The first step of any good plan is noting down what you are wanting to achieve. If you are selling a service at this seminar, are you aiming for a total of $100,000 in revenue? Are you wanting to sell out an event as you have sponsors expecting a return on their investment? Are you aiming to deliver a summer photo shoot with a boho vibe on a budget?

Without goals, you are just dreaming that the event will go off without a hitch. But that is nothing without setting goals that align to your business needs. It is all good an well to have a fantastic event location booked, great catering and a speaker that will inspire even the most stonehearted individual, but what if you don't have attendees? What if your attendees weren't given timely reminders of the event? What if your attendees forgot cash and its a cash only event?

Ensuring your goals are the right ones for your event, your career and your business outcomes is the first step to ensuring event planning success.

2.Research your audience and event location

You audience is why you are here. You aren't booking an event for the sake of hiring a space. You are booking for a reason, whether that be a seminar to generate new business, a photo shoot for a new product, a quick insta snap at a decadent location or a venue for a rocking work event. 

It all start with your audience.

Who is your audience? What do they want? Are they morning, afternoon or evening people? Do they have aligned interests? Are they coffee drinkers or tequila shotters? Do they all have the same problem that you can solve?

While everyone is unique, you need to figure out what similarities exist between as many of your desired attendees as possible. You have probably heard this summarised as your customer personas and really what this means is just "who are your customers and what do they want?". 

It is really important here to step away from yourself. If you can think about it from your customers perspective, even monologue it out if you need to, you will find that perhaps what you were originally thinking may not suite. Perhaps booking a venue at 7am might work better than 9am, perhaps natural lighting makes a great shot, but your audience will be happy with the controlled studio lighting.

You won't be able to figure this out with a data mindset. No, this doesn't mean becoming a data scientist, or needing to ask a whole new team to help (unless they are willing to!). It means looking at what data you have on hand, the information you have about your clients and customers and making some informed decisions. 

It could be as simple as moving an event from a small town to the nearest anchor city, where most of the locals go anyway. It could be finding a venue that serves the best pastries and getting them tailored with your logo. It could even be looking on Google Analytics to find which postcodes your website visitors come from, and booking an event there.

If you have this data, but don't know how it can help you find the right location and time, reach our to our free concierge booking service.

3. Create a timeline and schedule

So now you know your audience and what they desire, you can start figuring out exactly when your event will take place. 

You need to know who is involved in running this event. Do you need a stylist, a photographer, a sales facilitator or business development manager? Are your key event members located nearby or do you need to consider travel time? 

Determining how long you need your venue is also important, especially to avoid overstay charges, which are often charged at a higher rate. This means you need to know how long it takes to set up, run and pack down an event. It is also best practice to allow a buffer here in case something were to go wrong on the day. Perhaps one of the attendees was late, or the perfect shot took a little longer to set up, or your client brief changed halfway through the day.

4. Develop a budget and allocate resources

If you are running corporate events all the time for a brand, you may already have a set budget in your annual forecast. This should give you all the guidance you need about the event. However, what we have often seen is that the event planning budget is a single line, but you need to then break it down into venue hire, catering, promotion and staffing your event. Not super easy to do unless you have been running events for a while. Luckily you can use a service like Bizzievents to find venues that meet your budget. These venues may already have catering options on hand, so you can not only plan and knock out a large portion of planning, but you can do it all in a single invoice - take that finance team!

If you are running a photo shoot on behalf of a client, chances are you are needing everything a stylist could want or need on the day. You know your budgeting and you know that taking time out throughout the day to quickly source extra materials is a pain, not to mention a time suck that you nor your team probably want to deal with.  If you are lucky you have a client that knows the value of a full team supporting a shoot, rather than 1 single person doing it all.

Every event, whether great or small has a budget. If there is no budget, you haven't asked the right person yet. Find that person and whether it is a cost per staff member, a set price for a shoot or an expected return on investment you should get the number you need to book the right venue and event resources.

5. Create a detailed agenda and schedule of activities

Keep It Simple Silly. You have all heard about KISS before. It is something we love to talk about and we love to ignore. 

Planning an event is complicated, but the simpler you can keep it the easier the day will be. 

Your agenda needs to highlight your desired outcomes, your expected timings and flow and indicate key stakeholder responsibilities. Having a bump in sheet that covers timing and product is great, but how about a longer event. Have you planned for a break, that is often required by law? What would happen if you skipped lunch and worked on your feet for 10 hours straight - would you be working at your best? Is there enough time for questions, changes in product or delays? 

Your agenda doesn't have to be a spreadsheet, it can be as simple as a plan on a piece of paper - as long as everyone has seen that plan and agreed to abide by it as closely as possible.

6. Plan for contingencies

Despite all our best efforts things go wrong. They also can go right.

If you haven't planned for both the good and the bad, chances are your event won't be as smooth as you expect. 

You know that person who always asks questions in group settings? Chances are they are going to come to your event, and bombard your team with questions. It doesn't matter if they are questions about the weather, the event or whatever you are trying to sell. These questions take time to answer and often will mean delays.

We have all worked with difficult bosses, and working in an agency is no difference. Assume your plans will change on the day. It might be a switch of the product, a change in talent or even a change in the budget! 

My best tip is to think about the top 5 ways an event can go wrong, 5 ways it could go right, and what you would need to do in those scenarios. It may be that you can't do anything, you just have to accept things may happen. But if you don't think about these, chances are you may get caught off guard.

7. Finalise and distribute the plan

This plan doesn't have to be a presentation, but it might need to be pretty (depending on your audience). Do you need to know what the venue looks like on the inside, whether parking is available, what sort of rules you have to abide by? 

Don't just assume everyone is on board. Give them that plan and ensure you cover yourself by putting it in writing. Clear communication and alignment between all team members is a great way to ensure the event runs smoothly and you are hired again and again to do the job.

8. Review and reflect on the event to find opportunities for the future.

I love a good reflection. Thinking about how something ran, what you could do differently and what a third party may think or recommend is a great way to enhance a plan or uncover a new opportunity. 

It may also be the exact reason you read this article - if so, congratulations and you are another step closer to being an event superstar.

Matthew Jackson Profile Picture

About The Author

Founder of BizziEvents, Matt is on a mission to help corporate event planners create exceptional events by unlocking more time to focus on higher value work.

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