How often do you organise events? Considering this task is not the staple part of our profession I can still imagine your answer to be ‘quite often’. We are asked to arrange all sorts of events including anything from a team training day through to the company Christmas party and other large scale conferences, exhibitions and dinners.
Many of us are asked to organise events without much thought from the person that has asked you to organise the thing… sometimes the best you can hope for is a good brief on what they want and what is expected of you. In a lot of cases you are the company’s event organiser specifically because the company does not have an events department. I’ve written a few blogs on this subject in the past and I will put a link at the bottom so that you can refer back, however in this blog I want to talk about how you add value at the beginning of the event organisation process.
The first thing you should do after you have been asked to organise an event is to invite all of those critical to the events success to a meeting. The planning meetings (and there should be more than one) are a vital part of creating a great event. You should come away from the initial meeting with enough information to feel confident that you are making the right choices for every aspect of the event.
Your colleagues may be shocked that you have called this meeting because quite often senior managers will ask you to organise an event and think you can just go away and deliver it without any scope or real information. So when you arrive at the meeting ensure you come prepared. A pre-event agenda should look something like this:
What is the purpose of the event? At this point you should discuss why the event exists and who it will be for. A clear and concise statement about the purpose of the event should be written down so that you can refer back to it during the organisational process.
Why are you holding an event? Instead of another form of communication. Events can be expensive especially if they are for team building or internal training. Can you host a webinar or have team drinks instead? Is an event the best way to communicate your message?
What are the event outcomes? What will be the return on investment? This doesn’t have to be finance related, the outcomes could be a whole host of things specific to your company. The company could, for example, want to change staff mindset or behaviour.
What are the goals and objectives for the event? Similar to the outcomes, what does your manager want to gain from this event? What do they want to achieve during the event and after the event. Also what are the attendees objectives - why are they there and what do they get out of the event?
Who will be involved in the pre-event work and what actions do they have? Are you doing all the work? Let’s hope not! How will the events team work together and what are each of their actions. This is definitely worth sorting this out from the very beginning so you know where you stand. If you are organising a simple event and are doing most of the work yourself, at this meeting at least establish you will hold further meetings with those involved in the event planning.
What resources do we have / what can be utilised? How much of your time is going to be spent on this and how much of your other work will you have to juggle to deliver this event? Do you need additional resources such as a venue finding agency to help? Be honest, all of this needs to be discussed from the outset.
What is the budget? The budget doesn’t need to be finalised at this stage but a ballpark figure does. You need to know roughly how much you have to spend before you make any decisions. How do you know which venue is suitable unless you have an approximate budget? Get this confirmed very early in the process.
Remember this agenda is for your first meeting, you will have more detailed discussions as the process moves forward. In this first instance you need to gain an overall understanding of what your manager wants from the event and what they want you to deliver.