This past week I planned my first event, ever. I had no experience whatsoever but attempted to host fifty people for a women’s networking event, in a small, suburban town, with no women organizations and few resources. The event itself was a success, but the planning that went into it was rough and flawed. As I reflect on it, many of these pitfalls can be attributed to inexperience. Here are five things I wish I knew before planning an event.
- Surround yourself with accountable people
No matter how much time one has, planning a whole event by oneself is a daunting and stressful task. Working with others is almost essential since it allows for creativity to arise as well as flexibility. However, this is only the case when one is working with hardworking and committed people. Being willing to help and actually following through are two very different things. One may say that they will aid in some aspect of the event but instead may turn in work that is low quality or just not what one is looking for. Knowing that the people one works with are responsible and will produce results that one is looking for is essential. It will avoid last minute mishaps and slowed productivity.
- Leave Plenty of Time for Planning
It’s better to delay an event and have it be spectacular than rush an event and have it be mediocre. Start planning months and months in advance. Make a timeline of when to finish what tasks and stick by it. If one feels rushed, try to push the event back. Feeling overwhelmed will only deter success and smoothness.
- Communication is Key
In some ways, this tip is obvious but is one that’s importance can not be stressed enough. Without clear and regular communication an event can never be successful. Communication must be concise, relevant, effective, and polite.
When things go wrong, yelling and screaming may seem like the best option, but it will only cause rifts and bring a lack of cohesion to the event.
Make sure to communicate about conflicts right when they occur so as to deal with the problem head on and avoid tension.
- Have Backups for Everything
An event may seem like it has been planned by God himself and possessed no flaws or loopholes, but something will always go wrong. A projector will stop working, a guest speaker’s car will break down, or something else horrible will happen. To avoid catastrophe and unnecessary stress, make sure to have backups for everything. One can never be too safe when it comes to events. It is better to have two of everything rather than come up short.
- Don’t Try to Do Everything
In the land of overachievers, there happens to be a peculiar characteristic that leads to disaster but is still sought for. This characteristic is overconfidence which can be seen in the actions of taking control of everything or not trusting anyone to do anything. Events are often times group work. Trying to do everything oneself will only cause unnecessary stress and lead to a flawed end result.
Despite all the last minute disasters and extensive amounts of time, event planning is one of the most rewarding acts. Seeing people enjoy an event one put together is a delightful experience, but even more delightful when keeping in mind these tips.