You’ve probably organized events before and know how difficult it can be to make things go according to plan. I learned about the Duck Face Rule when organizing my first event. The rule says that you should appear calm and peaceful from the outside. To keep yourself floating, you’re actively paddling underwater with your feet. But, this should not be revealed to anyone. This is still my favourite rule.
It isn’t easy to organize an event. For everything to go smoothly, I have identified 10 key points.
1. Define the format and purpose
Although it may seem obvious, it is important to take a critical look at this issue. It is important to define your goals as precisely as possible. Do you want to impart knowledge to participants, express gratitude to partners, raise funds for a cause or provide guests with aesthetic pleasure? The answers will determine the event’s format: the concept, timing, duration, roles within the team, layout, catering, sound, and sound.
Don’t get stuck in the old formats. You can take a look at PechaKucha and “unconference”, as well as TED formats, TED format, TED brunches, online events and open-air events. It doesn’t matter what format you use, and it matters that it helps achieve the event’s goal.
2. Plan with enough attention
This plan should cover logistics, content, and promotion. The entire team should have access to a common document to view the overall picture and each other’s tasks. Prepare a list of your main tasks and then detail them in steps. It is crucial to indicate the timeframe for each task in your plan. This is often overlooked, and the preparation process takes longer than expected.
For planning, you can use Google templates and programmes like Trello, Asana, GanttPro or Teamweek. Even simple Excel won’t let you down.
3. Make sure to include unforeseeable circumstances in your budget
Please take a look at your list of tasks and include them in your budget. It would be best if you also considered putting aside money for unforeseeable circumstances. One example of this was when it rained during an open-air event. We had to change the site and move all furniture and equipment immediately. It is better not to forget about these things and be financially prepared.
You can also use the budget template or adapt it to your liking.
4. Detail is the devil.
You want your guests to be pleasantly surprised. Think about every detail.
Participants could, for example, be invited to participate in a master class, play games, or view an information video during registration.
Surprise people, surprise them and make them laugh. This is what gives an event the feeling of being special.
5. Plan B: Check the area and make sure you have it in your plans
As soon as possible, verify the location in person. It could happen that the air conditioner doesn’t work in the hall or that the equipment can’t get through the door. You should check for such problems in advance.
One time, I hosted a conference for 50 people. After an hour of the event, the property owner asked me to vacate the location without explanation. We ended up spending an hour training the participants in a nearby park until we found another space. Although you may believe that this will never happen to you, it is best always to have a backup plan.
6. Assign responsibilities
The tasks must be distributed among team members during the preparation phase and the event. Allocate responsibilities by zone. One person is responsible for registration, another for greeting speakers, and another for equipment, catering, and communication with the media. Each person should have his or her zone. This should remain in effect for the duration of the event.
Each team member should be given a copy of their responsibilities to know who to contact for specific issues.
7. Inform your audience about the event
Don’t underestimate the amount of time needed to promote an event. Your marketing strategy will depend on the type of event, target audience, budget, and internal resources. Focus on media partners that target your audience when choosing media partners. It is better to have targeted partners than a handful of media partners.
You should also create a single message broadcast across all channels. It should be concise and convey the essence of the event to the audience.
8. Attention to the service
Your team should follow The Duck Face Rule. Participants, speakers, and partners should be treated with kindness. Even if you are tired or things don’t go according to plan, try to answer their questions and meet their expectations. People remember the way they were treated, the atmosphere and not the speaker’s words at the end.
9. Perform a final inspection 24 hours before the event
You should have given instructions to everyone on how to get there, invited all-important guests and prepared audio and video materials. Make sure everyone is clear about their responsibilities and available space. You can create a checklist like this.
You can create a similar checklist to check preparations on the day of an event. It will tell you if everything is working and done on time.
Print the event program and give each volunteer a copy. Give everyone the number of the primary contact person for emergency communication.
10. Get feedback
Although you’ll likely feel happy and tired after the event, it won’t be easy to provide an objective evaluation of how it went. Ask participants to fill out a completed evaluation form either at the end of each event or online when they return home. Ask them to rate the event in logistics, speakers, locations, and the organizers’ work. These details will allow you to avoid making mistakes and increase the quality of your events. Get feedback via social media or record video reviews after an event. If your event is repeated, this will be very useful.
You will have a great event regardless of the event type. Be positive, and don’t be afraid to throw in some surprises!