I have been the acting Event Director for Young Women of Digital since January 2015. In that time, I've successfully planned, managed and executed about eight large events. If you think of the amount of time that you invest into making each event a success - that's huge. That's eight groups of speakers, eight electronic invites, eight banner designs and day-of coordination.
While there's no blog post that can really teach you how to pull off a successful event (I'm a firm believer in doing: host an event, and learn from it so you can be better), I wanted to give you some tips on things I've learned along the way.
Events Management 101
1) It's all about the plan. Before you even get started, take a minute to lay out all the items you need in order to accomplish a successful event. Some of the basics include a venue, event date and time, topic & speakers, goal of event, etc. You'll need to cross coordinate to make sure the venue can accommodate the number of attendees you'll want, and if all speakers can attend on the date your venue has provided availability.
Having a coherent plan in place will act as a reference document to keep you grounded during the entire planning process. Use it as a resource to keep notes, manage to-do's, share with team members, and collaborate on what needs to get done by when.
2) Promote, promote, promote. Once you determine the topic, you'll have an idea of who you want to attend your event. Then look for where that audience lives. Whether it's a database of email contacts or a community of social media, find the best channel to promote your event. If your company is speaking somewhere where your ideal attendee lives, ask them to mention the event. Send a series of emails - spaced moderately apart so as not to spam / annoy people - and reminder emails for the day before to stay top of mind and grab last-minute signups.
3) Anticipate EVERYTHING. You can't always see into the future, but things will go wrong. Your job as events manager is to put out fires when they occur. It sounds dismal, but think about absolutely everything that could go wrong and have a backup plan in place. Maybe it's as simple as having backup computer chargers for the presentation laptop, or having printouts of the guest list if the checkin iPad isn't working, or no one told venue security you were having an event.
I have a huge list of things that could go wrong - and I've created this list due to past bad experiences of "I wish I had thought of..." You need to know and accept the fact now that no event goes off 100% hitch-proof: your job is to make attendees never know the difference.
4) Day-of Point Person. Also manager of the event, there is no job that is beneath you. Once all the big stuff is handled, you jump in where you are needed or grab another member of your team to help out. If that means you jump behind the bar to help pour drinks for the growing attendee line, you do it. Be the person attendees feel comfortable approaching with questions, or if any issues arise, be confident in your solutions to them. You can do this, and you need to assure others you can, too.
5) Debrief. This is arguably the most important part of any event. Immediately after or the next day while the event is fresh, make a huge list of everything that worked well and what didn't work well. This will be your growing list of learnings that you will revisit when you need to plan your next event, and be the greatest tool in your arsenal for putting out those future fires.
I hope that these tips help you plan your next event, or make you feel a little more comfortable about it. If all those logistics make your head spin and nauseas with fear, let's talk - I may be able to help plan your next event!
I'm a motivated, self-starting marketer and working mom looking to make a difference in the world - one story at a time.
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