The Main Event

Do you plan events for the corporate world like product launches, conferences, seminars, etc? If so, look into these seven practices of successful event planners. You can easily dismiss these points as trivial or as something that doesn’t apply to you, as I did at one time. Slowly however, I learned to apply them as I saw I events become unraveled right before my very eyes, because I chose to ignore these simple guidelines.  This has been learned the hard way, and although they’re pretty basic, most event planners agree this is the main stuff you need to be aware of for successful event planning.

  1. Be certain that information flows freely across your teamLook, event planning is rarely done in isolation. In most cases you’ll have a team of individuals who you’ve delegated various responsibilities to.  It can be very easy to generate assumptions that everyone knows what the focus of the event is, and exactly how what they’re doing fits in with what everyone else is doing. But both assumptions may be totally incorrect.

At the start of your event planning effort, take time to share your event’s objective along with your “Plan B” policy with every single one on your staff. Make sure you huddle in with all of them to explain this.  Have regular meetings to assess the progress on an ongoing basis to ensure that everyone is cognizant of all aspects of the event.

  1. Hire top notch speakers and entertainersSometimes you go to an event and witness a speaker who delivers his content perfectly, never missing a beat, only to discover his topic is completely out of place and has nothing to do with the event’s overall theme.  You should network with other event planners, and ask them who would find out who would be a good speaker for that event you’re planning. Someone could possibly be an excellent speaker for one event, and complete disaster for another.

You should be asking the speaker for references. You can draw a lot of insight by calling just one of those references.  Plus it shows the speaker that your serious, should he find out that you checked one of his references.  Most planners check none of the references.  When you call you can ask them the number of times they’ve heard her speak. What did they like about his performance? What were they as opposed to?  Do they have any particular relationship to the speaker that might affect their opinion of him?

  1. Do detailed planning, have a timelineAttempting to organize a major event in the haphazard manner is flirting with disaster! Develop and use itemized schedules for each pre-event task, with specific dates to finish and particular persons responsible for completing them.  If this sounds like gilding the lily, it’s not.  This is one of the major reasons events fail.
  2. Read the small type, know all the detailsDo you like to gamble?  If so, save it for Vegas.  But don’t expose yourself to unnecessary risk as an event planner.  Read the contracts yourself with a hi-liter pen.  There are surprises in a lot of them.  A time or two of doing this will alert you to just how one sided most contracts are!  Things you can’t even imagine will try to hide in there.  Most of them revolve around the issue of responsibility, such as “in the event of disaster, event planner is responsible for all damages sustained to all parties.”  Doozies like this simply have to be removed from contract for obvious reasons.  Do this before you sign any contract.  It will ensure your small business will be around more than a month.  That also includes all written instructions, orders plus much more.  Since you’re the event planner, you’re expected to function as an expert in most of these areas.
  3. Have a higher purpose to your eventMaybe you have attended a seminar the past where the topic was so broad that you couldn’t follow, and the speakers talked all over topic in a disconnected fashion.  I know I have.  Too many times to count.  Usually this happens at a medical event that I’ve been hired to work at. I don’t know why but for some reason medical and pharma shows seem to be ripe with minutia.  But this can happen at any event that lacks clarity of purpose around the event.

Ask yourself, is the event intended as a strategic planning retreat for the management? or will it be a seminar to get the employees all caught up?  Or will it cover developments in a specialized field?  If it’s something like a product or service launch, ask yourself what exactly the outcome is supposed to be.  Then dedicate all of your team’s efforts to making that vision become a reality for your client; and not until you and your team understand the core objectives do you organize a focused event to suit those goals.

  1. Purchase Event InsuranceIf you contemplate what could disrupt your event and what your liabilities will be when it happens, you’ll realize that you need event insurance.  This can be easily purchased.  In fact if you’re a member of a group like the International Special Events Society they have group rates that many members take advantage of.  As a Corporate magician I have a policy with Acord.  They’re very reasonable and understand my unique circumstances as a magician.  The insurance is also a wonderful “advantage” you can tout to your client as to why they should hire you.  Many amateurs working in even planning simply will not take the time to do this.

The insurance will protect you not only from being sued if, God forbid, a guest injures themselves due to negligence on their part, but also from strikes, natural calamities, vendors not showing, drastically reduced attendance plus much, much more. Ask around, ascertain the monetary and legal consequences and purchase a policy that fits you before it’s too late.

  1. Triple-Check EverythingFinally, this is just about the most useful advice I can offer in this blog. Those following me will remember this as Blunder Number 15of my 25 Event Blunders.  If someone promised you, three months ago, that they’ll serve exotic Japanese snacks at your event, by gosh follow up with them and triple check!  You’ll be the one left standing there facing your client when they show up with Twinkies!  Check to see that they guarantee their commitment.  The more detailed the event, the more you should check all the little commitments and get what you can in writing.  This is as much for your vendors sanity as it is for yours.  These people are human too, have several things to do and could have completely forgotten what they said three months ago!

So there you have it. Ignore these at your own risk!

These straightforward guidelines could help you save endless trouble if you intend on planning and organizing events and making a living at it.

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