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Planning events – how to be SMART, setting goals and objectives

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Good event planning means you know up front what you’re trying to accomplish. Therefore before you fall into the planning mode of your first or next training course or workshop, think about the goals and objectives you have to set up. Think of both – the strategic goals that affect the future development of your organization and the objectives of this particular event. Many organizers throw themselves into the planning process without reflecting on these issues. However, it can be a mistake. Defining goals and objectives correctly is like creating a map for success: it sets the paths that you can navigate, avoiding unnecessary impediments.

Strategy of your organization vs. event objectives

The first step in planning an event is to recall (or formulate, if you haven’t already done so) the strategic goal of the organization and confirm that the planned training course, workshop or conference fits into it. Effective planning means that you know in advance what you want to achieve not only in the prospect of this particular event but also in the long-term perspective of your organization. The event objective has to serve your main goal – otherwise, why organize an event?

Be precise determining the event objective

When organizing events, it is worth working with SMART goals. What does it mean? SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and limited in time. Think about whether your goals are realistic and achievable. Don’t determine them too many.

Regardless of the event you are making, make sure your event objective meets the SMART criteria:

  • S as Specific – choose the result you want to achieve (eg 50% of participants registered for the event by XX.XX.XXXX), leave no room for guesses or any interpretation
  • M as Measurable – indicate hard data that you can measure (eg until the day of YY.XX.XXXX 15 participants registered for the event, of which 10 paid registration). The goal must be formulated in such a way that it is possible to express in numerical values the degree of its implementation
  • A as Achievable – the goal must be realistically achievable. If you are a beginner in the event organization industry, don’t expect the level of attendance which your experienced rivals can boast. Although it is great to have ambitious dreams, too much unrealistic expectations may put you at risk of discouragement and loss of motivation
  • R as Relevant – the purpose of the event you organize must refer to the strategic goals of your organization. After all, you’re working hard on every following workshop, training course or conference precisely to build the organization’s success. If the objective of the training course or workshop doesn’t coincide with the company’s main strategic goals, it is worth considering whether it was correctly formulated
  • T as Time-bound – the event objective must take into account specific timeline defining the beginning and the end. When determining the time horizon limited by the starting and ending point, we can measure the degree of realization of our goal. It helps to prevent the situation when everyday tasks take priority over your long-term goals.

Ask yourself some questions:

  • Why do I organize such and not another event?
  • What knowledge should participants acquire in my training course, workshop or conference?
  • How do I want to convey this knowledge to them?
  • What resources will be needed (lecturers, educational materials, multimedia equipment)?
  • When should I start preparations for the event?
  • What are my milestones in the planning and organization process?
  • How exactly will I assess if the event has been successful?


Remember that clearly defined goals support your efficiency at every stage of planning and implementation of the event. They also help to avoid wasting resources, eliminating activities unrelated to previously set goals and objectives. In the next post, we write about how to formulate SMART goals in practice (and how NOT to do that) while planning conferences, training courses or workshops. We invite you to explore this text.