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Submitted by todd on Wed, 05/29/2013 - 11:47Tweet
Successful event planning is a juggling act. Good event planners are well-organized and calm under pressure, and we sport a smile-ready visage even in the midst of trying circumstances. Sometimes we make up the rules as we go along —I like to call it being "resourceful"—and with that part of the job comes an extra boost of self-confidence. It also helps to have a few terms outlined in the event planning playbook to make things run just a bit smoother.
Let’s make this easy for the event planners and managers of the world. Here are some techniques, tools and tips to help you plan the perfect event:
Choose Potential VenuesYou have a budget, dates and requirements. Next, it's time to book the venue. Make a list of the stakeholders' "must-have" requirements—expectations of the venue no one is willing to budge on. When you contact possible venues, ask the simple questions (who, what, where, when, why and how much) as they pertain to these must-haves. Your short list of venues should match the expectations involved, and as planning takes those expected twists and turns, you can refer back to these basic questions to get you back on track.
Perform Site InspectionsYou'll need to do site inspections of your short list of venues. It's the only way to truly know if a space will work for an event, and it can help you avoid unexpected costs, last-minute changes and even mishaps during an event.
Try this approach: Show up unannounced at least one hour before your scheduled site inspection. Walk around, interact with staff as if you were a guest, and ask some difficult questions as if you were unfamiliar with the venue and surrounding location. This will help you experience the responsiveness of the staff first-hand.
Once the venue is secured, here are some other ways to make the most of your event.
Secure Audio/Visual EquipmentThe great debate begins when you have to choose between using in-house equipment and technology or renting from an outside vendor. First, know precisely what kind of equipment you need. This can make for an easy decision if the in-house supplier doesn't carry the equipment you need. And remember, the in-house supplier works for the venue, not for you.
Also, keep that in mind that everything is negotiable. If you don't like anyone's first offer, make a counter-offer.
Add Flowers to the SceneryFlowers are never required, but they certainly bring a professional and elegant feel to your event. Keep costs down by knowing the seasonal availability of certain flowers; here's no sense driving the price tag up with pretty, expensive flowers when pretty-and-cheaper flowers will do just as well. Also, ask if you can stop by when the floral designer is arranging flowers for a similar event. This way you can view the arrangements and communicate any aspects you'd like done differently. You can also find a wide array of spring flowers from FTD to add style to your event.
Bring Attendees to the FrontFill the front rows first. Nothing looks worse than empty seats or tables at a conference or show. "Reserve" certain sections in the back to force attendees to move closer to the front. Once the front is filled, pull the reserved signs off, and the room will look smaller and fuller.
Maximize Your Social Media OutreachCreate balance between too much social media and too little. It’s as simple as this: quality over quantity.
You can use Facebook to optimize your event. And, have you thought about a pre-event networking session? Online or in person? Use your Facebook event page or a Google hangout to drum up excitement. And, at the beginning of your event, give attendees a pre-made hashtag to use, so you don't have a number of different hashtags floating around Twitter.
Don’t Forget the Power of a Live StreamA live stream enables those who wanted to attend but couldn't to watch and experience the excitement. Live streams are effective to drum up future business; next year, they will attend. Live streams can be set up on YouTube, Ustream and other video services.
Keep the Agenda Open (at Least a Little Bit)Finally, don't exhibit too much control. Leave a few unscheduled, unchoreographed time slots in which your attendees can decide who to talk to and whether it's time to take a break.
That's a lot to think about. Event planning requires planning, preparation and promotion, but don't lose your sense of adventure in the details. Final tip: Relax and have fun. It's going to be fantastic.