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SMART goals in practice – a short guide for event organizers

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Previously we’ve written about the advantages of working with SMART goals. These goals are a great help throughout the effective event planning and organizing process. If you stick to them consistently, they will guide you through the process the whole way up to the final success of the event – from choosing a place for the event to formulate the right questions in the post-event survey. In this post, we present a short guide on how NOT to formulate goals and how to make them SMART.

“S” as Specific

Your goal should be precise as much as possible. So avoid formulating your goals, such as:

My event is to be very successful.

But what does it mean? What does “successful” mean to you? Be more precise, e.g.

There will be 20% more participants at my event compared to the previous edition.

“M” as Measurable

Your goal should be estimable. You should formulate it in the way that you can measure whether you have achieved it or you are close or far from it. So avoid the generalities:

My event is to be profitable.

What does the term “profitable” mean to you? How to measure the scale? So it is better to refer to measurable values:

My event is to be 40% more profitable than last year’s edition.

“A” as Achievable

You should be able to achieve your goal. It means that planning your goal or an event objective you must take into account your real possibilities and resources. Check if the following goal is something you can reach:

My event is to be 100% more profitable than last year’s edition.

Is it possible to you to achieve this goal? If yes, then great, congratulations. But if this is unlikely, adjust the goal to the capabilities of your organization:

My event is to be 40% more profitable than last year’s edition.

“R” as Relevant

The goal of your event must be the part of the organization’s strategy and priorities. Check this example:

During my event, each participant must purchase a meal option.

Are you sure this is your real goal? Does your business operate in the catering industry, and the training course is about tasting dishes? If so, it’s okay, but if it isn’t the case, then the goal formulated in this way may have the opposite effect than expected (not every participant of the workshop has the desire for a meal, some may actually resign from the event at all). Instead, propose a meal as an option:

When registering for an event, participants may choose a meal option for the amount of X.

“T” as Time-bound

Your goals must be placed in a specific time prospect. So avoid the imprecise goals lacking the time-specific details such as:

Registration for my event is to be a success.

What does it mean for you? If 100% of participants register on the last day of entries, will it be a success for you? Regarding planning and financial issues will it be a full or partial success? What about payments? Instead, it’s better to use:

80% of participants will register and pay for an event until the day of XX.XX.XXXX.


In this way, we create the SMART goal: we set the path to success, we know the reference point (in this case last year’s edition of the event) and the end point (20% more participants, 40% increase in profitability, specific assumptions regarding registration and payments). So now we are SMART – on every point of the timeline of the event we are able to check and estimate if we are on the right track. If we are not, we have the chance to make corrections leading us to success.

It is worth remembering that well-defined goals allow you to plan both the event itself and promotional activities, while keeping the budget in check.