One of the strategic stages of organizing events is their planning. The more carefully the event manager prepares for it, the fewer surprises will pop up during organization phase of the event. When planning an event, however, it’s easy to make mistakes that complicate things. Those mistakes can make the process more complicated and difficult than it should be. As the experience of event managers shows, there is a catalog of errors you should avoid during the event planning. We’ve discussed a few of them below.
Lack of precision in setting the event’s goals
Many organizers start planning an event – training course, conference or workshop – without thinking about its goals – about both the strategic goals that affect the future development of the organization and the objectives of the particular event. At the same time, it’s worth to remember that precise goal-setting allows effectively plan the activities, avoiding unnecessary difficulties and misunderstandings. What can you do? Start working with SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals. How to do it in practice? You can find the practical guide in one of our previous posts.
Overloading the event program with attractions
Every event organizer wants his event to be unique and remain in the memory of the participants long after its completion. Therefore, there is a temptation to include many different activities in the program of the event. Plenty is no plague, at least so they say, but in the case of the event industry, it may not be the greatest idea. At the planning stage you must be a realist:
- assess whether your time frame allows the free implementation of the planned activity – you don’t want participants to have a sense of rush during the event;
- make sure that the substantial part of the event, scheduled sessions, workshops or training courses correspond to the main theme of the event. Beware of “off the topic” elements. Although they are seemingly extremely attractive, may distract attendees from the core topic and leave them overwhelmed with information.
You probably want everything at your event to work like a Swiss clockwork. You want to be perfectly prepared. Sometimes, however, excessive minuteness can become a serious obstacle. Why is that? Among other things, because the broader perspective (the big picture of the situation) and the goals that you intended to strive for are easily overlooked when you are focused on the small details. So, as mentioned above, never lose sight of the main goals.
Poor team communication
Effective communication is one of the most important skills supporting the efficiency of the event industry. At the same time, this skill is often highly underestimated. Event planning is the phase when a lack of team communication may prove extremely painful in the long run. While planning tasks and assigning people to perform them, it is extremely important to make sure that team members are accurately aware of what is expected from them. Otherwise, it may turn out that the work will be doubled (two members working on the same task) or not performed at all (all of them thinking someone else is doing a job). To avoid such situations, it is important to clearly formulate the tasks and delegate them according to the employee’s abilities and capabilities. You must also not forget about the time planned for implementation of the task. At the same time, the staff must know the general goal, know what tasks were delegated to the individual team members. Also, don’t forget about exchanging information about the progress of work. This should be done on an ongoing basis. Messages can be exchanged during meetings (it is important that they are short and effective, beware of wasting time), you can also use the available applications that support effective management and implementation of tasks, eg Wrike, Trello.
Performing a one-man show is one of the frequent sins of the event organizers. The assumption that “I can do better” is utterly doomed to failure. Imagine for example the situation, in which there are so many planned activities that you aren’t able to work on them simultaneously. Although the temptation to take everything on may be tempting, try not to succumb to it. Excessive overload of duties and the feeling that “I have to do everything by myself” in the long run will be a source of frustration and may be the reason for professional burnout. Already at the planning stage, think about team members and consider what they can do. Remember that a well-coordinated team will perform the task faster and more effectively than you alone.
Last minute actions
During planning an event, it is important to provide a time frame. Include additional time – a kind of buffer – in case of unforeseen situations. Planning all actions without this buffer may cause the situation where one failure will result in a domino effect. For example, if you don’t secure adequate time to choose the venue, and your selected location turns out to be unavailable, it may force you to choose a place that doesn’t fully meet your expectations. This can also contribute to delays in promotional and marketing activities. All this taken together may cause the failure of the event (poor location + insufficient attendance).
Not keeping a finger on the pulse
Each of us happens to forget about more or less important matters. This applies to both the event managers and members of the event team. After all, we are only humans, not the machines. But it doesn’t mean we don’t have to keep our finger on the pulse. However, this doesn’t mean total control over employees or – worse – taking over their duties according to the principle “I will do it better”. This means that you should monitor the most important “milestones” of the process. Already at the event planning phase appoint the milestones and mark the elements that must be considered with special care. For example – confirmation of the participation of the sponsor or lecturer, confirmation of the catering order, reservation of the place. While preparing for the event, set reminders for yourself and the team members – this way you will be able to respond to possible delays.
A well-designed plan of the event allows for the efficient implementation of previously adopted assumptions, and as a result, reduces the risk of making a mistake or even failure of the event. Planning events is, therefore, a stage worth devoting more time to. Eliminating the most frequently committed errors from the event managers practice may be particularly beneficial. Especially, if they are working on the organization of several events at the same time.