A great event is the result of smart planning and a thoughtful, creative, and organized approach. Let’s face it: event planning is an extremely demanding job that’s not for everyone. It has the potential to incite panic, a nervous breakdown, and unending stress if you approach it from the wrong angle.
Making mistakes and learning from them is an important part of professional growth and development. But, it’s easier if you can glean some tips and insights on the pitfalls of event planning from others with experience in managing expectations in times of crisis, especially if they offer a different perspective.
Enter the project manager.
Build a strong foundation
When starting a new project, you need to have a good foundation to build upon. The same goes for event planning. You need to form the basic ideas about the event and determine what your event objectives are. Decide who your target audience is and what they will expect from the event. This will be beneficial when making decisions about registration and ticket costs, content, venue, and more. This step in the process forms the core guidelines for next steps you take in your event planning journey. It will also help you clearly define the scope for your event so it’s measurable versus too broad or narrow.
Choose your team wisely
Building a great team will help you delegate tasks to the right people. These decisions shouldn’t be made in haste. Take time to fully vet prospective team members before deciding on the ones who will be best for your event.
Adding a new team member in the middle of event planning is not easy or recommended, but changes like that do happen in the events industry. As you plan for delegating tasks, ensure you assign work that reflects individual and collective strengths across your team. That will help create stronger relationships between you and your team members. It ultimately allows you to focus on your respective areas of expertise and enables you to trust the process versus worrying over the small things.
Think and plan ahead
There are virtually infinite options available to help project managers create detailed plans and workflows associated with a project. The most important lesson here is that you can never give too much attention to planning, and it’s never too soon to think ahead. This is where event planning and project management go hand-in-hand.
In both cases good planning is the backbone of every event or project. There are different approaches to planning. You can plan your event from start to finish in detail (you can use the Kanban technique) or plan for short periods of time called sprints (this is also called the SCRUM technique). As you’re seeking out tools to try, keep your individual work style and event in mind for the best results.
Execute on your plan
Stick to the schedule you mapped out in the planning phase. Every project manager will tell you that it’s not a good idea to veer too far from your plan, especially if you’re looking to accelerate your event building process. Consider the following question: is it better to have it done fast or done right?
Having full visibility into which tasks are complete and what still needs your or your teams’ attention is paramount to successful event planning. If you document your work from start to finish you should have no problem finding gaps or areas for improvement. If you stray from the original plan, check your documentation to identify where the dependency or issue is rooted.
Document your event planning with project management tools to help you stay more organized. You can also generate reports of your tracked time, add files, create invoices, and more. If you document your event planning diligently you will always know if you are on schedule. It may feel like hard work but, in the end, it pays off because you’ll have a complete record of your event project(s).
Track, monitor, and record
The benefits of monitoring the progress of the event on a regular basis are also important to consider. If you and your team document their work in detail, you can monitor the whole process of event planning.
Check in with your team daily to see how they are progressing and if they need support. This will help you identify potential risks like uneven distribution of work or outright mistakes early and give you a chance to correct course without negatively impacting the final stages of planning your event.
Incorporate learning from past events
Keeping diligent records will help you avoid repeating mistakes and give you a chance to incorporate your learning for your next event. But as you well know, the work does not end when the event is finished. Every event tells a different story and you should think about summarizing the experience for your teams and their work streams: document what worked and what needs improvement.
Go through your event planning process end-to-end and compare it to your current plan, goals, and overall expectations. This will help you grow not only as an event planner but as a leader as well. Event planning and project management have a lot in common but they are still two wildly different beasts. As the old adage says: practice makes perfect. If you follow these tips and apply the knowledge you glean from previous events, your events will deliver more value to your audiences in the end.
Event planners and organizers can learn a great deal from project managers and vice-versa. The roles are similar in many ways. Here we will discuss some key drivers of success that event planners can take from project managers. start with what event organizers should avoid, then we’ll dive into best practices for saving and managing your time at events.
3 things event planners should avoid to protect their time
It can be argued that event planning and project management are birds of a feather, but there are some project management practices you should take great care to avoid as an event planner:
This tip applies primarily to event planners who work in a team. Events range from simple to complex and every layer in between. However, no matter how complicated the event is, you should not attempt to manage every little nuanced detail on your own.
Trust your team members to do their job. Be a leader instead of putting yourself at the center of every ongoing task or workstream. Micromanagement won’t serve you well if you are looking to deliver a successful event, let alone delivering it on time. Are you feeling that nervous breakdown coming on yet?
This one is simple: have the fewest meetings possible. Every event has a host of deadlines, so wasting time is the event planner’s nemesis. Be efficient when you sit down with your team, use an agenda to guide the conversation and keep everyone on track, and get to the point – action items – as soon as possible.
Long exhausting meetings for the sake of meeting are unproductive. If you have a large time, exercise even more discretion with your time to demonstrate that you respect theirs as well. Invite only team members who have a stake in the subject at hand to keep things relevant and concise.
Ironically the “one size fits all” usually fits no one. Every event is different. Traditional project management is a bit more rigid than event planning, but it is important in both contexts to be flexible, or at least be prepared to have some flexibility.
You already know that not everything will go according to your best-laid plan. When deadlines are fast approaching or the unexpected happens, flexibility can be your biggest ally.
About the author:
Mitja Puppis has a background in marketing and international relations. Currently Mitja works as a marketer in Spica International for My Hours. He specializes in time management and time attendance marketing. He strives to shed light on the topic of proper usage of time management solutions that protect the employee from extensive workloads and unproductive monitoring.