You’ve volunteered to organise a corporate event in your company. The problem is that you’re the Jon Snow of event planning; you know nothing.
So now what?
The clock is ticking and you don’t have time to do an event planning course. That’s why you’re here: To get a crash course in how to pull off your first corporate event.
Read on to find out how you:
- Define the aim of the event
- Break everything into manageable tasks
- Create a realistic budget
- Choose an appropriate date
- Create a timeline
- Assemble a team
- Find a venue
- Promote the event
By the end of this article, you will be less Jon Snow and more Bran Stark.
1. Start with the end
If it sounds like reverse engineering, it’s because it is.
When you set out to organise an event, it’s easy to get stuck into the immediate details. But all projects need a vision and a macro plan before you delve into the minutia.
Think about what you want your colleagues and bosses to get out of the event. Is it networking? Education? A good time? All three?
What exactly are you organising?
Is it a…
- Conference or seminar
- Trade show
- Company retreat
- Christmas party
- Team-building event
- Product launch
It’s also crucial to cater to your target audience. The expectations of your guests will depend on the industry and pay grade. Start with the end, and let it determine the battle plan.
2. Make a list of the components
Once you have a general idea of what the event should be like, it’s time to segment your plan. Figure out each component that is required to make it a success.
Depending on the event, you’ll need the following:
- Food and drinks
- Marketing collateral
Remember that it doesn’t matter how big any given project seems at first. All that matters is that you’re able to break it down into small and manageable components.
3. Set a budget
You might not be in a position to set your own budget for the event. In fact, event planners seldom have unlimited funds to work with.
That’s fine. You can make do with what you have. It’s even possible to organise a zero budget event if it comes to that.
Rule #1 for setting a budget: Be realistic and leave 10% in reserves.
Once you know how much you have to work with, it’s time to gather some quotes. Compare the costs for different venues, caterers, print shops, and whatever else you need for the event.
The sooner you can book any of them, the likelier it is that you’ll get a good price. Otherwise, you’ll just need to negotiate to the best of your ability.
4. Choose a date
If you’re in a position to choose the date, now is a good time to do that. If the event is seasonal, like a Christmas party, your options might be limited. The date you set could be influenced by these factors:
- Who you want to attend (and how much notice they need)
- How long it will take to get everything ready (see #5)
- When you’re launching the product or service
- When the venue is available (see #6)
Make the date tentative. You will probably have to adjust it slightly once you get into finding the right venue.
5. Create a timeline
Every plan has a timeline, and you’ll benefit from making one as well. It doesn’t need to be much more than a series of deadlines to meet for everything to run on time.
Rule #1 for timeline creation: Always allow for unexpected delays.
It’s nice to be optimistic. But when you’re organising a corporate event, it’s better to be realistic.
Here are some of the unexpected delays you should account for:
- Venue can get double-booked
- Decoration might out of stock
- Catering can run late
- Print shops can misspell your company name
- Transportation might break down
It’s unlikely that all of these things will happen, but even one or two of them can put a spanner in your wheels.
It’s good to apply a bit of Murphy’s Law when you create your timeline.
6. Assemble your team
You may need more than one pair of hands to make your event a success. Even if it’s a small-scale event, it helps to have a team to work with.
If your budget doesn’t allow for it, then see if you can use some good ol’ persuasion to get your colleagues on board. They might even be excited to be part of the organisation.
7. Find a venue
You’ll need a place for guests to gather no matter what event you’re organising. Venue hunting can be stressful and can easily eat into your budget.
When you evaluate different venues, you should consider the following questions:
- How long of a waiting list does it have?
- Is it big enough to fit the number of attendees?
- Does the venue have A/V equipment, or should you bring your own?
- Is there adequate phone reception and WiFi?
- How much do you have to pay for the deposit?
- What are the cancellation and refund policies?
As mentioned, it’s a good idea to book the venue as early as possible to get the best possible price.
8. Promote your event
This part will also depend on the event you’re organising. It can be as little as sending an email to your colleagues. Or as much as a full-blown marketing campaign.
If you’re creating a larger-scale event, you should also consider the following:
- Social media posts and ads
- Flyers and posters
- Blog posts
- Event listing websites
- Search engine optimisation (SEO)
- Direct mail invitations
What matters is that you get people to attend. Let them know the W’s: what, when, and where.
Everything is going to alright.
If you ever get anxious, here is an ancient spiritual method you can use to put your mind to rest:
Imagine you’re Donald Trump.
No one knows more about events than you do.