On October 23 we launched our first Connect event. It was my first experience in running and planning an event, an experience I learned a lot from.
My perception of running events was that it was going to be a HUGE job, a little daunting as you of course want to run the best possible event for your customers, one that reflects your business. The biggest lesson I learned from planning the Connect event is it is all about:
Organisation: You can never be too organised. Creating lists, sending emails, building timelines is all part or building out your event and keeping all parties involved organised too.
Time management: Prioritise, making sure that the most important items are completed first. Divide up your time reasonably between the tasks.
Flexibility: When something goes wrong you need a backup plan, you should be able to be flexible with timings, guests and be ready for things to go wrong (they always do!).
Running an event can be very tricky and time consuming, often avoided or outsourced due to the the volume of work. As a small business, we understand the importance of running events for the community. So we wanted to create something that our customers could be involved in and create a community where we could share experiences and learn from one and other.
To help you plan an event in the future, I happy to share my experiences with Connect and provide you with a template for event success.
So here is my 5 step guide to organising your next business event!
1. Create Your Event Brief
This is the important strategic document; budget, objectives (long and short term) and key principles of your business. A brief is always good to reflect back to, make sure you are still in line with your original goals and objectives. Make sure when you are deciding on your event, it is something that your guests will see value in and something they will enjoy.
Create your master plan within the brief
Here you’ll note the activities for the pre-event planning, this will consists of all the activities you need to complete before the event.
- Type of event
- After-party function
- Event timeline
Set a date
Pick a date for your event, make sure this date works for your venue and team. Be aware of public holidays or other dates that may affect people attending your event.
Find a venue
Pick your venue, to keep costs low you can host it at your office just like we did for Connect or you can find a venue off site. Keep in mind when selecting your venue if you will need insurance and catering? When selecting a venue, you want it to be easy to get to for your attendees, is there transport near by for our guests, or parking available?
2. Brand Your Event
Branding your event is very important as you want to ‘own’ the event.
This means naming your event, branding all materials and advertisements you may do. When you use social media to share or email to let people know about you event keep your language consistent, use the same names for the event so your attendees feel familiar with the event.
If you are wanting to give something away to your customers make sure it is relevant to your business and has your business logo or messaging apparent on it.
Part of branding you event is to identify speakers, partnerships and sponsors.
When considering these you will want to reflect on the objectives and principles of your event, you want to make sure they are all aligned.
- Consider establishing partnerships with other organisations or people to assist with the execution of the event. Identify their role when determining key decisions.
- Contact potential presenters and determine availability
- If confirmed – send email confirming details, agenda, timeslot, and requesting requirements (e.g. clicker/microphone/props)
- Gather a photo of them, bio of their organisations, background/history
- Collect content from presenters to approve.
- Send follow up email with finalised requirements/event specifics
- Confirmation a week prior to the event
- Confirmation day before the event
Set an agenda
How to set an agenda:
- Identify the topics of information to be shared.
- Identify potential Presenters or speakers to invite to participate.
- Decide on the time frame for each presentation or speech.
- Decide the type of communication for the presenter
- Make sure the content that the speaker will present meets your event criteria.
3. Share your event
Share your event with your customers or public online. You can use social channels, email marketing and ticketing platforms online.
We used social channels such as Facebook and Google+ to share with our customers, email notifications and Eventbrite an online ticketing system. With the Eventbrite ticketing system you can choose if you would like the event to be public or private, the offer guest lists email systems, affiliates and even guest name badge printing.
It is a really great system and we will be using it for all our events. Your social platforms should be utilised for your event – each of the platforms have sharing mechanism and event pages. Share the love with your followers and build the hype by slow releasing information. social media platforms.
You can employ the help of a Public Relations freelancer if you can a wide reach for your event.
4. On the Day
Create a running sheet
You will need to do a pre, during and post event day sheet. I did a walk through of the day, so nothing was missed. My running sheet had the correlating times of when tasks needed to be completed beside them too.
I sat down with my team and ran through all the items on the sheet and made sure that each item was assigned to a staff member who would take responsibility for it. Creating this will make sure that any challenging encounters are limited and nothing is missed.
5. Post Event Wrap Up
Put together your general post project analysis where you can pinpoint areas that need development, there are always areas to improve. If fact ask your attendees what could have been done better.
Your wrap up should include:
- Social media debrief
- Thank you emails to attendees – feedback what they would like to hear at the event
- PR run down of the event
- Evaluation – Did you reach your goals? At the end of the day you want to make sure what you set out to do has been done. This can be easily reflected on in your brief.
See more about our Connect events on our YouTube channel here.