How to Plan an Event: a Complete Guide

Looking for advice on how to plan an event? You've come to the right place! We've all attended various events over the years, and while each event is unique, there are some best practices that...

Looking for advice on how to plan an event? You've come to the right place!

We've all attended various events over the years, and while each event is unique, there are some best practices that work well for everyone. Whether you're new to event planning or just looking for a refresher, this complete guide will provide you with all the information you need to plan a successful event.

What is an Event Plan?

An event plan, also known as an event management plan, is a comprehensive guide that covers all the components of your event. It organizes the steps and key information necessary for running an event. Regardless of the size or type of event you're planning, a good event plan covers essential components.

To create an effective event management plan, you need to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals and objectives. Additionally, it's crucial to establish a timeline by working backward from your event date.

The Core Features of an Event Plan

A successful event requires a well-organized plan that keeps all the components in one place. Here are the core features that your event management plan should cover:

  • Event goals and objectives
  • Individual roles and responsibilities
  • Volunteers and volunteer training
  • Budget
  • Date and time of the event
  • Event master plan
  • Event location
  • Event management software
  • Event branding
  • Event speakers and special guests
  • Partnerships and event sponsorship opportunities
  • Promotional, advertising, marketing, and publicity plan
  • Day-of processes
  • Vendor information

It may seem like a daunting list, but don't worry! We've created a step-by-step breakdown of each element to help you get started.

Two Free Event Planning Checklists

If you're looking for more structure in planning your event, we have two free event planning checklists that you can download and customize to your needs.

We understand that running a virtual event presents unique challenges, so we also offer a free virtual event planning checklist.

13 Key Steps for Event Planning

Planning a successful event involves following these 13 steps:

  1. Set your goals
  2. Organize your team
  3. Recruit and train volunteers
  4. Establish your budget
  5. Choose a date
  6. Create an event master plan
  7. Choose your event software
  8. Book your venue
  9. Brand your event
  10. Confirm your speakers and special guests
  11. Identify and establish partnerships and sponsors
  12. Promote your event with a strong marketing plan
  13. Prepare for the day of your event

Each step is crucial in ensuring the success of your event. For a more detailed breakdown of each step, let's dive into the complete guide.

1. Develop Your Event Goals and Objectives

The first step in planning a successful event is to establish tangible goals and objectives. Ask yourself why you're organizing this event, what you hope to achieve, and who your target audience is. Setting quantifiable metrics of success will make it easier for your team to ensure that you reach your goals.

2. Organize Your Team

Planning and executing an event requires a dedicated team effort. Assigning individual roles to team members creates accountability and prevents tasks from falling through the cracks. Make sure to involve your organization's executive team and on-site event staff for a truly unforgettable experience.

3. Recruit & Train Volunteers

Volunteers play a pivotal role in the success of your event. Define volunteer roles and create a plan for recruitment. Leverage your existing contacts and use volunteer sites and social media platforms to find potential volunteers. Identify volunteer leaders and provide them with training to ensure smooth coordination.

4. Establish Your Budget

Creating a solid budget is key to planning an event within realistic parameters. Consider all the critical expenses, including venue rental, food and drink, entertainment, decor, staff, marketing, event management software, and any miscellaneous costs. Keeping your budget in mind will help you make informed decisions throughout the planning process.

5. Set the Date

Choose a date for your event that allows you ample time for planning. Be mindful of statutory and religious holidays, school holiday periods, and check for availability with key participants such as speakers and VIP guests. Once the date is set, start booking external staff and services for your event.

6. Create an Event Master Plan

An event master plan is a roadmap that ensures every aspect of your event stays on track. It includes details about the venue, logistics, catering, speakers, conference agenda, activities, publicity, registration, sponsor management, volunteer responsibilities, and more. A detailed timeline helps keep everything organized and ensures smooth execution.

7. Choose Your Event Software

Event management software can streamline your event planning processes. Consider using software for registration, ticketing, event websites, attendee management, lead tracking, and engagement solutions. If you run a membership organization, membership management software can automate administrative tasks and improve communication with your members.

8. Book Your Venue

Book your venue as soon as possible once you have the date finalized. Consider factors such as accessibility, size, parking, insurance, A/V capabilities, and costs. Visiting the venue in person and meeting your vendors can help create a better understanding of the space and ensure a successful event.

9. Brand Your Event

Create a compelling theme and apply it to all elements of your event, including the event name, tagline, logo, and visual identity. Highlight what makes your event unique and use consistent branding across all marketing collateral. This will help generate excitement and recognition for your event.

10. Confirm Speakers & Special Guests

Booking engaging speakers and special guests can boost attendance at your event. Leverage social media, professional speaker websites, local networks, and member surveys to find notable speakers who align with your event's goals. Be sure to coordinate with them early on and confirm their participation.

11. Identify and Establish Partnerships & Sponsors

Collaborating with partners and sponsors can help reduce costs and increase event participation. Seek corporate sponsors and community organizations that align with your event's mission. Craft a compelling case for sponsorship and offer clear benefits to potential sponsors.

12. Promote Your Event With a Strong Marketing Plan

To attract attendees, you need a comprehensive promotional plan that covers marketing, advertising, and media relations. Utilize event listing websites, social media, community partnerships, print materials, and press releases to generate interest. Also, don't forget to thank your sponsors and share post-event success stories.

Things to Keep in Mind on the Day of Your Event

In the days leading up to your event, make sure to check off crucial last-minute items. Send reminders to attendees, confirm setups with vendors, and double-check your event checklist. Prepare a day-of supplies kit and take some time to relax and center yourself before the event begins.

How to Plan an Event to the End: Post-Event Review

Once your event is over, take the time to review its success and gather feedback. Assess whether you met your goals, review attendee feedback, evaluate team performance, and analyze your marketing efforts. Event and membership management software can help streamline this process by gathering data and automating administrative tasks.

Planning and running an event can be challenging, but with careful preparation and attention to detail, you can create a memorable experience for your attendees. Remember to enjoy the process and celebrate your success along the way!

Now that you have a complete guide on how to plan an event, it's time to start organizing and bring your vision to life. Good luck!