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17 Mar 2014

Six tips for a successful event

By Annie Gannon, MarCom Events Chair

Whether it’s an auction for hundreds or a small board meeting, planning an event can be stressful. But it can also be a great way to show off your organizational and leadership skills in a very public way. To make sure it goes smoothly, here are six tips for a successful event:

1. Don’t assume anything. This goes for every vendor you’re working with, regardless if you’ve worked with them in the past. They can’t read your mind. Be very specific about how you want the venue set up, what you want from a caterer, what you need a photographer to capture, etc. Disappointment is the result of unmet expectations so make sure everyone knows what your expectations are.

2. Be prepared. Despite your planning, things will go wrong. They won’t be a big deal if you have a back-up plan or a way to fix them. Try to think through some scenarios. What if signage falls? What if a centerpiece breaks? Take a box, and fill it with all kinds of solutions—safety pins, super glue, Sharpies, Tide pen, duct tape, scissors, binder clips, whatever you think you might need and then some. You will find a time when you use it.

3. Expect technical difficulties. We’ve all been there. PowerPoint must be cursed, right? But when it happens at a large event, it can be even more embarrassing. So even when the tech people say they’ve got it covered, always ask for a run-through. The day of the event can get busy so it can be a good idea to do a practice run at the venue in the week leading up to the event. And bring your presentations and videos on multiple devices—thumb drives, DVDs, a laptop and email it to yourself. The peace of mind alone will be worth it.

4. Plan for media. If you’re organizing a large public event, hopefully you will get some media attention. Even if you’ve already sent a release, it never hurts to send a media advisory the day before, including what will be visually interesting and key people they will be able to interview. If you’re expecting TV, check with your venue about parking for the news vans, and make sure those spaces stay free. Appoint one person as the media wrangler for the day. That should be their number one priority. If your local media can’t send anyone, offer to send some high-quality video or photos along with the results of your event.

5. Love your volunteers. You can’t do it alone. You’ve likely got community volunteers, interns or colleagues working alongside you. Plan what everyone’s role will be, and build in time for training. Appreciate them, delegate to them and trust them. It will make your day much less stressful.

6. Relax. Speaking of stress, the final tip is to relax and have fun. Yes, that’s easier said than done. But you’ve spent a long time planning your event, and it would be a shame if you didn’t get to enjoy it too. Take the time to look around from time to time to see how everything is coming together. We don’t always get such tangible results at work, and you’ll feel pretty good once it’s over.