Where to Begin When Planning an Event

First Steps to Take in Planning a Successful Event

plan an event

So you just landed a new client and you must get to work planning their event.  Congratulations! You know you need to come up with a theme, find a place to host the event, figure out the food, hire entertainment….the list seems endless.  So where do you begin?  Follow these steps on how to get started planning an event.

1. Budget

Establishing a budget is the first task to tackle.  Unlike a general business budget, an event planning budget must be itemized.

  Decide how much will be spent on the venue, food and beverage, entertainment, staffing and any other needs and set aside a cushion of 10-20% for unexpected costs. This is one of the first steps to take in planning an event.

2. The Why

Why will this event be held?  What is the purpose?  The focus of the event and the target audience will guide everything else that is planned.  Is it a sales meeting for those who achieved a particular sales level or is it a welcome reception for new clients?  Have a clear sense of the event’s objectives and that will enable you to generate an overall theme.

3. The When

Select a general timeframe for your event, taking into consideration any special anniversaries that can be incorporated into your theme.  Determine how much flexibility you have regarding the date; greater flexibility may assist in negotiating the best rate for your venue.

4. The How

How will everything get done for this event?

  Will you be handling all aspects or will the client be covering certain responsibilities?  Will you provide everything yourself or are vendors needed to deliver services?  This determination is critical for budget planning and is key in the site selection process.

5. Set an Agenda

If the event is a business function, set the agenda for the meeting, working with the client to establish a schedule of activities for the duration of the gathering.

  Knowing this will assist you if you are engaging speakers or arranging lunch in between meeting sessions.

6. Develop a Timeline

Write out a detailed timeline listing every task that must be done from now until the actual day of the event.  Keep in mind that guest speakers, entertainers and caterers will need to be booked in advance.  Depending upon the scope of your event, your timeline may include selecting the venue, reserving a block of rooms, arranging for food and beverage, ordering invitations, planning publicity and hiring support staff.  A timeline will enable you to see the bigger picture surrounding your event.

7. Put Together a Checklist

While the timeline keeps you on track in terms of the calendar, an event planning checklist is designed to make sure you don’t forget anything.  In event planning, there are many details and even for the most organized planners, it can be a lot to remember.  So put together an event planning checklist – on paper, using a spreadsheet or whatever format is most comfortable for you.  The important thing is to make sure everything  is on that list.  It is also important to give everyone responsible for an item on your checklist a copy of the list.

Being organized is essential in planning a successful event.  No detail is too small to be overlooked and keeping track of all aspects of your event is a must.  Getting started with the steps above will set the foundation for hosting a successful event.