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Event Planning in a Nutshell: Make Your Next Event a Success by Following These 7 Proven Steps

It’s circled on the calendar. It’s haunting your outlook. You’ve done it. You volunteered to plan an event, and now the day is dawning. Make sure your next event is a smash success by following these simple tips.

1) Budget tight and budget right

In the end, your budget is what makes the event possible. But if you plan ahead, you’ll have to contort that budget significantly less. The first step is where. It’s crucial that you learn more about where you’re going to host your event. You probably already have a theme in mind, but more importantly, your theme has money on the mind.

The earlier you start planning your event, the more you can save. Think ahead: If you want an outdoor event in the prime of the year, you’ll need to book early, or pay dearly.

2) Understand your attendees

Whether it’s a wedding, a professional event, or your putting on your first open mic night, you need to get inside the heads of the attendees. Sure, you might want a colorful spread of foreign cheeses, but does that go well with the event, or is that just a personal preference?

Separate them from you. You aren’t just leading this event, you’re at the center of it. A leader can dictate, but being at the center means all the praise (and all the frowns) are directed right at you! So ask yourself these simple questions:

If I were attending, what would I want to see most? What about the least?

3) Get the word out

Long before the first tablecloth is ever spread, before the first toast is written, there has to be marketing. How are you planning on getting the word out? You may consider involving a few people who have strong ‘social networks’ in the type of event you are hosting so that they can share the invitation.

Decide: Will there be formal, written, hand delivered invitations – or will there be an e-vite of some kind? This decision can’t be taken lightly, but they can be mixed together. It’s not improper to have an electronic reminder or even some guests who are invited electronically after the initial invites have been dished out. But keep control of your budget and your stress level.

4) Contain your stress level

Yes, the stress monster. Some people claim they do their best work when they’re stressed or under pressure. But when planning an event, this is precisely how people end up blowing their budget. If you wait until the last minute, not only will your stress level go through the roof, but so will your budget.

Planning is key, if you can plan far enough in advance, you may only need to dedicate ten or fifteen minutes a day to your event. Then, as the days get closer, you can begin to ratchet up your marketing and execute all those well laid plans.

This may be the time to decide whether or not an event planner is right for you. You can find an event planner who will work beside you, behind you, or manage it from soup to nuts.

5) Be ready for anything

Booking an outdoor event six months in advance can have its own type of stress. But don’t follow every ebb and flow of the weather with each day. Instead, relax and have a backup plan. Many companies that rent tents and external equipment can be contracted inexpensively in advance.

If you’re catering, call around to local deli’s and pizza shops well in advance, ask them how much food they can put together on short notice and how quickly. “My catering for a business gala fell through when they forgot to renew their vendor’s license. I found out at the last-minute that I was on my own” don’t be like Brenda K. complaining about Google Reviews the day after. Be prepared.

6) Get an idea wall

Too often when planning events you surround yourself with ‘yes messes’ people who will simply agree with you because it’s your event and they want you to be happy. Setup a standing date with yourself each time you plan to work on the project and ask yourself ‘Is this still a good idea’ and then demand that you give answers to yourself. Don’t just ‘yes mess’ yourself.

If you don’t think you can be trusted to be your own idea wall or to write your own, then ask a friend who is unconnected, but has attended events like this in the past. Demand that they are brutal with you.

7) Automate anything and EVERYTHING

Automate anything you can. It sounds like it’s a technical dream world, but really – you can automate more than you’d think. Once you have your list of attendees, pre-write during your advance planning sessions, weekly or bi-weekly emails that will go out using a system like Mail Chimp or other services (many of which are free!) then, use the open and response rates to curtail your list and help with your planning.

You can also use a social media campaign that will run on some parts of automation. An automatic post or reminder to future attendees that they should ‘bring their running shoes’ or ‘thinking caps’ or whatever theme you might have.

The Last Word

Don’t forget that you are meant to have fun at this event too. So by following these 7 steps and keeping your stress to a minimum, you can kick your shoes off on event day and know that you did everything right. But don’t just take that feedback from yourself, you can see the smiles on your guest’s faces and the leftover money in your budget from prior proper planning.

Using all of your resources, friends, family, and coworkers who might be involved is important not just because it eases your burden, but because it helps them feel included. In today’s social media days, everyone is always ready to comment on a disaster or a success!

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