How to Make the Most of Your Next Event
Here's a checklist that makes planning a snap
Corporate events can be a great way to connect people in a company and improve company culture or to celebrate milestones or holidays. But it can be challenging for the person in charge to plan an event, which can sometimes take months to organize. To organize a successful event, it’s important to have a plan so that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
There are six main components when planning an event: budget, venue, sponsorships, structure, entertainment and food. The goal is for the event to go off flawlessly, which is why we’ve created a corporate event planning checklist.
The budget is the most important thing to nail down. Determine the proposed budget by meeting with the person who holds the purse strings. If you have specifics in mind—speakers, venue or catering, for example—come to the meeting prepared with the estimated cost of those things to justify the money you're asking for.
Once you have an idea of what your company can spend on the event, you can adjust your expectations accordingly. For example, if the budget is on the low end but you want to include public speakers at your event, look to your network to find someone who’s willing to speak for free.
Consider Outside Partnerships
If your company doesn’t have adequate funding for the event, consider bringing in some sponsors. If you do decide to go this route, start reaching out to potential sponsors immediately. No company will sponsor your event if you only give them a month’s notice.
Companies want the exposure, which is why a sponsor will give you products or cash in exchange for advertising them at your event. If you’re not sure how to find and approach a potential sponsor, here are a few steps to take:
- Identify what type of audience will be attending your event based on interests and demographics. If you understand your audience, it’ll be easier to research potential sponsors.
- After you have a list of potential sponsors you’d like to contact, think about what the benefits are for both your company and the sponsor.
- Create an incredible proposal that outlines the benefits of their sponsorship.
- Establish a relationship first via email and then arrange a meeting in person, if possible.
- Activate the agreement, and both parties should deliver on the agreed terms.
The planning process will go more smoothly if you set up a format for the event. Ask yourself the following:
- Will the event revolve around dinner?
- Is it a conference with featured speakers?
- Will there be group discussions or team building activities?
- Will it be a laid-back gathering intended as a time for employees to catch up and have some fun by eating and dancing?
Another way to decide on the format is by considering the goal of the event.
- Would you like to acquire more customers?
- Will part of the event be focused on welcoming new employees?
- Will the event facilitate networking and educational opportunities?
- Is it a holiday party where employees get to have some fun and look forward to the new year?
- Is it a going away party for a retiring manager or president of the company?
After you decide on the structure of the event, you’ll have a better idea of how to proceed with the planning.
Choose the Venue
Now it’s time to decide where the event will take place. Before you even set a date for the event, you should first secure the venue. Of course, this is possible only if you’re allowed to select the site before solidifying the date.
If your company gives you the green light on securing the venue before the date and time, this will provide you with a lot more options.
While considering these factors, you should also keep the following in mind:
- Will it take place in your office building or company property? If so, it should be reasonably easy to start planning the event.
- Is the event going to be on the beach or at a luxurious resort? Places like this are more challenging to secure as a venue, which means you must book them well in advance.
- Don’t just book any old place. Make sure the venue will suit your needs. For example, if the conference is going to involve group discussions and seminars, you’ll need a larger place with several private rooms.
- You may need to book more than one venue (such as a restaurant for the after-party), so keep this in mind and plan accordingly. If you plan far enough in advance, you won’t have to come up with any last-minute venue changes.
Plan the Entertainment
Most events revolve around activities such as panel discussions, employee awards, saying goodbye to an employee, guest speakers or some other entertainment. After you’ve booked the venue and know how long the event will be, you can start planning the activities.
Speakers should have an impressive amount of knowledge regardless of whether they conduct a seminar, deliver private talks or participate in a discussion. If you’re not sure who to select as a speaker, make a list of dream candidates and get in touch with them. While waiting for a response, also make a list of back-ups.
If all else fails, consider contacting your local speakers’ bureau to find talent in your area.
Having a few featured speakers picked out will make it easier to decide who will be the best fit for the event.
Pick out Food and Refreshments
No corporate event is complete without food and drinks. If you’re opting for a morning event, a quick breakfast or lunch (or both) will give attendees the option to nourish their bodies and enjoy the event. Having food at the event will also give employees and guests the opportunity to network with one another.
Select a catering company you can count on that makes the type of food you want. Start by researching various catering companies who are available on the day of your event and also fit within your budget. Some venues will have on-site catering, which makes planning even easier.
If you want to hold an after party, finalize the food plans for the additional event at the same time. Preferably book the same catering company for the after party so that you won’t have to coordinate with more than one business.
Draft an Itinerary
After setting up the venue, time, entertainment and meals, you can draft an itinerary. Plan out the event from beginning to end and don’t forget to schedule increments of time when people can go to the restroom or grab refreshments or snacks. Giving people adequate breaks makes it more likely they will pay attention to the activities and speakers.
Promote the Event
Don’t forget to promote the event by letting employees know the date and time. Use as many channels as necessary to get the word out:
- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
- A branded website for larger events
Also consider creating a unique hashtag that people can use to promote the event on their social media channels. An example would be #TechFest2019 or #DietCokeCon. Publicize the hashtag and inform the event hosts, speakers and sponsors to use the same tag on social media.
Even though planning a corporate event can seem overwhelming in the beginning, taking the process one step at a time makes it easier to tackle. If you to get overwhelmed, take a break for a day or two and then pick it up again.
Some things may not go as planned, but there’s always a solution or something else you can try. Approach the event strategically, and remember to have fun.
Event planners sometimes get so caught up in organizing everything that they forget to relax and enjoy. Don’t let that be you. All of your hard work will pay off, and you should be there to enjoy every second of it!
Lisa Clapper is the Owner of Copper Mugs. She has an extensive marketing background in all facets of marketing but a true entrepreneur at heart. Her interests and experience in home design and decorating has led her into the housewares industry where she designs and sells copperware for Copper Mug Co.