Advice from the experts for your next event
Whether planning a fundraiser, office Christmas party, networking event or wedding, there are some tried and true methods for ensuring your guests leave happy, and you leave having met your goals. We spoke with 5 event experts about their keys to event success—you may be surprised at what they had to say.
Define a clear call to action and measure your success. Do you want your guests to donate? Join the organization? Host an event themselves? Engage in some other way? Define what would make your event successful and come up with a way to measure it. Madisen Golden, Resource Development Manager for United Way Larimer County, suggested comparing the number of attendees to the number of attendees that converted.
Know your audience. According to Mary Douglas, partner at Corinthian Events in Boston, understanding your ideal attendee influences all other planning. For instance, if you’re inviting world-traveling luxury foodies, skimping on the refreshments may not be a good idea. If you’re hosting a networking event, you don’t want the hired entertainment to be so loud or distracting that people can’t easily mingle. Know who’s coming and plan the event accordingly.
Do your event research. Mary said that understanding the history of the event can help you avoid previous pitfalls and/or prevent new ones. Talk to people who attended in previous years and find out what worked and what didn’t. Was the location too cramped? Did people leave early because it was just too long? Change what didn’t work and stick to what did.
Organize a killer team. Between your speakers, venue, food, marketing, etc., no single person can do it all (at least not well). According to Wild Apricot, the most successful events have a single event manager as well as a team of individual chairpersons to head up each subcommittee.
Just like mom’s house, everything revolves around the kitchen. Food and beverage have the power to make or break an event, according to Lindsey Dienstbach, owner of Bello and Blue Events. It doesn’t have to be elaborate but should be well thought out. Lindsey recommends having a variety and taking into consideration how people access it to avoid bottlenecking or long lines forming.
Don’t forget decor. You don’t have to break the bank to make a space look festive, match a theme or evoke a feeling. We’ve worked with hundreds of event planners on a range of budgets to come up with the perfect event display, event furniture, flower stands and bars to set the stage for event success.
Don’t be ready on time. Be ready early. Regardless of start time, there will be attendees that arrive early. It’s just a fact of life. With that in mind, Madisen recommends having everything ready 45 minutes ahead of time so you can be relaxed and poised for the publish when the early birds start to show.
The old adage is actually true this time: Communication is key. Every event planner we spoke with for this article agreed that this should be happening before, during and even after the event. The more engaged, directed and informed your audience feels, the more likely they are to have a positive experience which will translate to positive feelings towards your business or organization. Consider starting a Twitter feed, Facebook page or other social channel for disseminating all relevant information to guests.
Answer the question “What’s next?” Your audience may be moved, inspired, excited or energized after your event—make sure you put the momentum to good use by letting them know what they can expect next, whether that be a future event or a way to keep the conversation going online.