10 steps on how to plan an event and why it's important

Updated 19 March 2023

Planning an event means organising activities to make an event successful. It involves working with different teams that provide services necessary for the smooth running of the event. Knowing the elements to consider for an event can help you coordinate a function that satisfies the attendees. In this article, we explore how to plan an event and why it's important to do so.

How to plan an event

To properly understand how to plan an event, it's important to know what's involved. Event planning includes setting goals and objectives for the event, establishing timelines, developing a theme, coming up with activities, selecting speakers, selecting and reserving a venue, planning food, arranging facilities, coordinating transport and managing risks. To plan a successful event, follow these steps:

1. Create an objective

Determine the purpose of the event. Have a clear objective of what you want to achieve with the event. Consider the type of event you wish to host, why you want to plan the event, the people you want to attend it and the dress code. For example, you might want to host a networking event for professionals in your industry. That's your objective, so whatever plan you put in place follows this objective.

Related: How to write an action plan to help you achieve your goals

2. Delegate tasks

It's unlikely you want to plan an event alone. That's too much stress, especially if it's a large event. Planning alone could make you miss some critical details of the event. Build teams and assign each group a project to handle. For example, you can assign planning and reviewing the event's budget to a team and sourcing vendors to another. When delegating tasks, do it early on to ensure everyone understands their roles and immediately starts working on them.

For a significant event, create teams to handle the different activities of the event. For example, you can create groups such as the venue team, creative design, marketing and communication or registration and sponsorships. Assign the responsibility of a project manager to an individual to be in charge of strategies and making purchasing decisions. In addition, ensure that you hold weekly meetings with the teams to track their progress and explore new ideas.

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3. Design a budget

Your budget is the amount of money you intend to spend on the event. You might have a budget in mind, but after finding out the cost of certain activities, you can decide to increase or decrease the budget to cover the cost. When assessing your financial resources, consider the cost of the venue, publicity, food, entertainment, event staff and photography or videography. For example, when budgeting for the venue, calculate how long you want the event to last and the number of people attending, as these two factors often determine the venue's cost.

If you want more professionals to know about the event, publicising it is necessary. You can consider traditional advertisements like air commercials, radio shows, social media or other online platforms. The budget for food also depends on the people attending and the type of food you want to serve. You might decide on a three-course meal or snacks and drinks. Your decision determines your budget.

4. Choose a date

The next thing to plan is when you want the event to take place. With a date in mind, you can determine when to publicise the event, reserve the venue, book the caterers, entertainment and other activities attached to the event. When picking a date, consider the weather. If you plan on organising an outdoor event, choose a date in spring or summer.

Also, consider the people attending the event when picking a date. For example, if you want to hold a networking event for professionals, you can consider weekends or mid-week evenings when they might be free to attend. In addition, check if there are other events in the area where you're planning to hold yours. If there is a significant event on the same date, consider shifting yours to avoid traffic congestion or limited parking space.

5. Select the venue

When selecting the venue for your event, consider the location, size, accessibility and parking. The location matters, as it can determine if guests are going to come or not. For example, if you choose a venue known for crime or unrest, there is a possibility of them not attending. The size of the venue matters too. You don't want your guests cramped up in a small space and you also don't want to rent a hall where your guests won't take half the space. So, it's necessary to estimate the number of people attending the event.

Visit the venue in person to see if it's the right size for your guests. Another thing is the accessibility of the venue. Choose somewhere that's easy for your guests to locate and also leave when the event ends. Then check if the venue has the necessary technology to host the event, such as large screens, plug-in microphones and other A/V equipment. Finally, remember to check if there are parking spaces as the guests may not want to park on the streets.

6. Find vendors

Finding vendors that offer quality services within reasonable pricing is necessary for a successful event. For example, you might need vendors that provide catering services, decoration, entertainment, photography, security and other activities you wish to include in the event's programme. When searching for vendors, avoid hurrying to choose one. Get in touch with numerous vendors and compare prices before settling for those that offer quality services and are cost-effective.

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7. Establish a promotion plan

Figure out the type of promotion to use for publicising the event. Some publicity to consider includes newsletters, social media, email marketing or posting about it on your website. You can also try traditional means such as television and radio to help your promotional strategy. Promoting your event ahead of the date may increase the number of people attending. It also gives them more insight into what to expect during the event. When sending out promotional items, you can include the date and time of the event, the sponsors, dress code, activities and the food to expect.

8. Develop event branding

When developing the event brand, think towards the event name, which is the first thing that could spur the interest of potential attendees. Next, consider the theme of the event to provide more insight into the event's direction. Ensure the logo, colours and typography used for the event are consistent in the promotional items such as the social media posts, flyers, banners, tickets and billboards. Finally, it's essential that the event's brand, though slightly different, reflects the company's brand.

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9. Have a backup plan

Sometimes, things may not go as planned, which is why it's crucial to have a backup plan. Having a backup plan to the arrangements you've made can ensure you experience no disappointments on the event day. For example, if the event is outdoors, consider adding an indoor space to the plan in case it rains. Other backup plans to consider are backup venues, entertainment and technology.

Related: All about a 30-60-90 day plan and how to create one

10. Start networking

Aside from promoting the event, consider making a few personal connections that you can invite to the event. They're more likely to attend, encourage some of their colleagues to attend and make the event more enjoyable. Connect to your contacts and inform them of the event you intend to plan, including the activities. They might make suggestions to improve it.

Why is planning an event important?

Planning an event entails coming up with ideas that may suit the type of event you're hosting. For example, there are different professional events, including conferences, trade shows, charity functions, product launch events, team-building activities, ceremonies, parties and board meetings. Each of these events requires a different type of plan to ensure its success. Some reasons event planning is essential include:

Saves money

One of the reasons for planning is assessing your financial resources and the cost of getting things prepared so you don't overspend. When planning, you have the time to liaise with different vendors, compare prices before selecting the one that suits your budget. Waiting until the last minute to contact vendors can make them inflate their prices and you might have no option other than to pay.

Promotes creativity

Planning an event can help you develop creative ideas to make it enjoyable. This relaxes your mind and helps with creativity. During this time, you can develop different activities to keep the guests entertained and the type of food or snacks suitable for it. If you wait until the event is days away, you may do everything hurriedly, which could impact the overall presentation of the event.

Related: Best practices to boost your creative thinking skills

Reduces stress

The feeling that you have everything in place before the big event can make you feel relaxed. You don't need to worry about whether you've booked the venue or secured the caterers. When you've planned and made the necessary preparations, you can relax and watch how your event turns out.

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