1. Determine the goal of the event The most important aspect of an event is the ‘why’. Is it a celebration, a meeting, educational, spiritual, or just an informal get-together? Once you have established the goal of the event, you can determine the outcome…what the audience will take away from the effort.
2. Project a budget Quite important is the amount of money and energy you have to spend on carrying out this gathering. The budget will dictate many decisions to be made in the planning process. It will impact the number of attendees, the venue and the menu, the décor, entertainment, and more.
3. Figure out the event’s needs, i.e. invitations, food, entertainment, handouts, decorations, etc.) Now that you know what it’s about and how much you have to spend, what is critical to the success of the event. Will you serve a full meal, or will snacks suffice? Will you need formal invitations or print up flyers, or use social media? And what about entertainment? You can consider music (live or recorded), guest speakers, skilled acts, parlor games, demonstrations, or Q and A’s
4. Set a timeline for ‘to do’ steps What needs to happen first in the actual planning? It can’t all happen at the same time, so now’s the time to come up with an action plan. Example, once you know how many people you can expect, you can select a location. Once the location is secured you can set the time of the event, and start the communication buzz, create the invites or flyers or social media pages. There will be no limit on the number of details that will have to be handled, and some will be dependent on other securing other details.
5. Assign roles and responsibilities Depending on the size of the event, you may need to pull a team together. Not everyone has the same skill set, so try to assign tasks to those who are suited to performing that task.
Try not to give the duty of arranging decorations to someone who has limited creativity or interest in ‘festing’ the place up. If someone is intimidated by numbers, you might not want them to be in charge of keeping the budget. If a person has a strength or interest in a certain area(s), they may be more willing and able to do a good job carrying out their assignment.
6. Identify your guests or attendees Who are you going to want to attend this event? If it’s a celebration of a person, try to invite people significant to that person. If it’s an educational event, include people who are interested in the subject to be covered.
7. Find the right venue Deciding where to hold you event is critical. You want it large enough to accommodate your guests, but no so spacious that the space appears cavernous, and gives the impression that the party or meeting was not well attended. Make certain that it has ample and comfortable seating, and that there is good flow in the room. If parts of the rooms are obstructed, some of your guests may feel left out of the activities. Do you prefer stadium seating, or a more relaxed cozy area? These decisions will be determined by the type of event and the number of attendees.
8. Select a good caterer Food is fuel for the success of many events. You want the food to not only taste good, but to have a great presentation in how it’s offered, attractive containers, orderly display, appealing aroma. Investigate your caterer. Ask around and select one that has a good reputation for all areas of food service, including cleanliness and timeliness. And study your guest list carefully. Collect rsvp’s if you can so that you can plan accordingly. You do not want to run out of food and beverage.
9. Include a memorable experience At some point(s) you should want to present a ‘wow’ factor in the event. Include something unique or unexpected that people will talk about after the event is over. It doesn’t have to be expensive, or over the top, or distracting from the event’s message. Fresh flowers on the tables or tinted light bulbs can add a touch of elegance to an evening’s gathering. A surprise entertainment piece or a dynamic reading can add sensation to a party’s routine. A testimonial or demonstration of a talent can enhance the affair.
10. Create an evaluation form for feedback So…how’d you do? What worked well, and what was almost a disaster? Ask. Leave evaluation cards for attendees to fill out, asking them to share their thoughts or experiences about the occasion. This will be valuable for you as you plan future events, or even when you’re called upon to help plan them. And you might be surprised as what people find their most pleasing or least pleasing experiences.