The thing you feared the most just happened: Your company marked a not-so-distant day on the calendar to host an event and decided to put you in charge of the planning.
No matter how much you’ve tried to explain your lack of event management experience, you’ve already proved yourself as a highly efficient and skillful employee. The executive director knows about your adaptability to new challenges, so she won’t change her mind.
“You’ll be great!” “If you need something, just tell me. I’ll help you.” “Planning an event is a piece of cake, don’t worry.” The encouragements of your team members sound like a distant echo since you’re basically getting ready to go into full-fledged panic mode.
Sit, take a few sips of water, breathe, and read this post.
I promise you that after finishing the article, you’ll have the strength, knowledge, and motivation to actually run an awesome event without any planning experience whatsoever.
Accelerator to becoming an event professional
Let’s start with the bad news: Planning an event is hard. Only organizers get it.
“Outsiders,” or those who never managed an event, tend to underestimate the amount of work involved and think it’s a breeze.
It’s actually a nightmare.
But don’t quit your job just yet—you can do this! For starters, there are a few things you must consider (aka soak in):
Planning mindset #1: Get by with a little help from your friends
Even though you’re responsible for a big event, you’ll need the help of your teammates. Of course, they won’t be able to dedicate all of their time to take over the planning duties; however, they could (and should) give you a hand with some assignments.
For example, ask the social media manager to help you promote the event. See if your media contact can facilitate your communication with the press. Maybe the web developer can assist you with creating an event page.
Draw a mind map of potential allies in certain roles or departments that can help you successfully manage the event. Then, prepare an action plan for each one and schedule a general meeting to agree upon the details and the help they’ll give you.
Planning mindset #2: The planning logic
There’s a big difference between your brain and an event professional’s brain. Event professionals are trained to keep up with the planning logic.
Here’s what I mean: If we’re bringing in speakers who only speak a foreign language, we have to ensure the concomitant translations. This means we need to check the venue and see if there are any translation cabins, and if not, we have to install them.
We also need to rent the equipment and plan the handing over of the headphones to our attendees. One small problem, issue, or need can grow into a big chain of interdependent actions.
So be sure to set aside some time to think about your decisions and see if there’s something you’ve forgotten.
Planning mindset #3. The devil is in the detail
Be ready to be oblivious about the details. It’s not your fault. It’s just the way a normal brain works (event professionals have been trained to have the minds of superheroes), and you don’t know any better.
When managing an event, you’re expected to juggle multiple balls in the air at once: catering, venue, surveys, attendee experience, engagement, only to name a few. When you don’t have a planning background, it’s super easy to get lost in all these details, forget what’s important, or overlook something crucial.
This happens a lot, so be prepared to miss things.
Take my advice: Never underestimate the power of sticky notes. Write down everything, even the smallest, most-obvious details. This way, chances are you won’t forget as much as expected.
I’ve also prepared a free roadmap you can easily download. This document contains all the planning aspects you must consider, which will help you follow a planning logic, including all those tiny little, easy-to-forget details.
Planning mindset #4. It’s better to look dim-witted than wrong
Ask lots of questions. Even if the answer seems obvious, you never know. Don’t worry about thinking you look stupid for asking; most planning mistakes happen because we assume things instead of double-checking them.
Do you have a doubt (even the tiniest one)? Speak up.
Planning mindset #5. Other tasks? What other tasks?
In addition to planning the event, you’re still responsible for your everyday job. Negotiate with your boss to relinquish some of your regular tasks so you can focus solely on the event. Make sure you make it clear to both your boss and other team members that you won’t take on new projects until the event is over.
Planning mindset #6. Welcome to meeting land
If you thought you think you have too many meetings before, wait until you start planning an event. Managing an event requires tons of meetings—with your boss, volunteers (if any), suppliers, event software developers, website builders, the marketing team … you get the idea.
Be prepared to take lots of notes. But don’t worry: Check out this article on how to run efficient meetings and not waste time.
Planning mindset #7. Be careful when choosing your providers
Most of the time, running an event requires third parties such as audiovisual teams, venue providers, or catering companies. Be careful when choosing who to work with.
If, for example, your brand is advocating sustainability, you can’t go with a catering provider that is oblivious about food waste.
If you want to make a good impression on your attendees, obviously you won’t choose to work with a basic audiovisual team that can’t provide offer you a professional setting. Never forget that the success of your event depends not only on you, but also on the event suppliers you select.
Planning mindset #8. Know your goals and KPIs
Here’s the thing: Knowing why you’re planning the event will greatly change your perspective and actually help you focus on those actions and strategies that will give results.
Did your team leader assign you the event planning? Schedule a meeting with your boss right away and find out the event’s goals and, subsequently, the KPIs.
Why are you planning an event in the first place? What’s the end goal? Is it to attract new leads? Potentiate networking? Raise brand awareness?
Know your end goal before you even think about starting to plan the event.
In addition, you must agree upon the KPIs. These performance indicators depend upon the goals.
If you want to gain more clients after the event, you should look into the sales numbers. If you want more brand exposure from the event, you’ll have to check the social media mentions.
Both the goals and KPIs will offer you a stable framework from which you can start building the event.
Planning mindset #9. Grab some tools
No, we’re not talking about a hammer and nails. There are some great digital solutions that can help you with both marketing and event planning. From segmenting your audiences and setting up online registration forms to communicating with the attendees and providing digital agendas, the options are unlimited.
You don’t have to go through the event planning all alone. That’s why you should convince your manager or boss to purchase an event management system or app that could help you do the work.
Planning mindset #10. Strive for balance
I know you’re a high achiever who wants to impress your boss and plan an outstanding event. Don’t worry: You’ll do it. You are perfectly equipped to manage an event without having any previous experience (don’t forget to download the roadmap!).
However, this assignment is very risky in terms of stress and potential burnout. So make sure to keep things balanced, try not to freak out (even if you miss a few details, which is perfectly normal), and be kind to yourself (after all, you don’t have any planning background and are doing better than you think!).
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Hopefully, after finishing this article, you’re feeling much better about the idea of planning your first event. These power mindsets will help you manifest a planner’s willpower and attention. Remember to download the complete roadmap to managing your event without a planning background.
This document will help you focus more and better organize your work. And if you have any questions, don’t forget to write us in the comments section.
Let us know how the event went!