Your Event Planning Guide Including a FREE Event Planners Checklist
The new year brings new events and event planning can be hard work. Make your work easier by starting with an organized framework for planning your upcoming events.
Our handy event planning guide will help you coordinate the four basic components involved in planning your event plus we've included a free event planning spreadsheet template you can use, re-use, and share -- because sharing is caring.
Four Basic Components to Planning an Event
- Prizes/ Giveaways/ Awards
The program is a basic list and schedule of what's going to happen at your event. Average events happen when we don't clearly outline the program or we lose focus on executing our original plans. This leads to the old fallback program method: keynote, eat, Q&A, raffle, booze, kthanksbai!
Avoid planning an average event - you want to plan Awesome events! Use our event planning spreadsheet and take the time to outline why you are having each event and what you want the event's outcome to be. This will help you develop a terrific program that your guests will rave about and you'll achieve the results you want.
For example, let's plan a Cupcake Party to Promote a new cupcake named by your organization. Your program may include:
- Opening Ode to Cupcakes
- Cupcake Unveiling
- Speed Cupcake Decorating Contest
- Cupcake Closing Toast
Who's going to get people to talk about your event? Of course, you'll ask your friends. Then you'll ask them to ask their friends. And that works!Awesome events reach a variety of groups and people outside your traditional crowd. Think about who else would be interested in your event. Consider other organizations with similar goals and interests. Use our event planning spreadsheet to write down your answers to these questions:
- What's the best way to get in touch with the people who would be interested?
- What information can I provide that will make it easy for them to attend my event (or donate money to it)?
- Are there any newspapers, magazines, blogs, or event calendars I should target?
- How far in advance do I need to send my event information to get on the event calendar, on the morning news, orto get a write up in the daily paper?
- What online communities can I reach out to?
Make your list of contacts and develop a plan to reach out via "save the date" cards, email, invitations, and personal phone calls. You'll want to schedule reminders that you send out 2 weeks, 1 week, and the day before your event in addition to the first invitation.
For media outlets and online communities, you will want to prepare announcements and press releases that share details about your event including the agenda, share fun behind the scenes tidbits, why you are holding the event, and highlight key people contributing to your event. Use the Promotions tab on the spreadsheet as a guide.
The allure of prizes and giveaways is irresistible and fun for your guests. If you have the budget for them, select doorprizes and plan on when and how you'll hand them out at your event.
If you don't have the budget, ask. Maybe there's a cool new product that could use some exposure, or maybe there's a local shop looking to spread the word about it's grand opening. Call around and ask. At best, someone will say yes. At worst, someone will say no. (It's ok to hear 'no.' Say thanks and send an invite to your event. Maybe they'll come.)
When you are securing prizes, gifts and awards, you'll want to know how many you plan to give away and what you want the gift to communicate. Want to say, "I'm Oprah!"? Then give away a car. Want to say, "Thanks for a job well done with those decorations."? Then give away a $10 gift car to Hobby Lobby as a small token of appreciation.
Whatever you give away: put a bow on it and increase the Awesomein your event.
Presentation is like the body language of an event. Make it festive, opulent, romantic -- again: it's about what you want to communicate. Once you've outlined your message, think of things that will help you get it across and complete the decorations section of the attached spreadsheet.
An easy way to plan your decorations is to choose a theme and follow through. Seriously. It'll make your life easy, make for an enriching experience, and lure your guests into the party spirit.
If you choose a theme, you're in luck: you have that much more to talk about when you promote your event. Share the history of your theme and provide ideas for what guests should wear to represent the theme. Imagine an '90s theme and each week you send out your newsletter reminder with different how-to's and info from the time period: How to Dye Your Hair Zach Morris Blonde. How to Make a Chevron Friendship Bracelet. The top 10 songs of 1991 according to Billboard. Five News Headlines that Ruled 1992.
Basically, go a little crazy. It's a party. If it's not a little over the top, it's not a party.
You can manage and maintain the spreadsheet by uploading it to your website or into a Google Doc. You can share it with your staff and volunteers plus track changes in realtime. Make the spreadsheet the foundation of your planning. The important thing is to write down those great ideas!
Click below to download and share the attached Event Planning Spreadsheet for your next AWESOME EVENT!
If you are using Tendenci to manage your website, you may find these additional event planning resources helpful as well.