Your event — and attendees — will benefit from these organizing tips
It’s December, which means attending (and planning!) a lot of parties and events. If you’re organizing one — whether now or in the future — here are 10 tips for keeping the planning on track.
- Don’t lose your vision. Remind yourself what the purpose of the event is, so that all the activities relate to that main reason for holding the event. Even if a sponsor wants to give you money to do an related activity or a friend wants to add a game, it is ok to say no. Or ask them to stick to your vision, and counter it by giving an alternative suggestion. You have the ultimate decision.
- Keep branding consistent across all platforms and in every communication. Use the same tagline, color palette, fonts, and logo throughout all your imaging and marketing materials. Some variety within your brand’s style guide is ok, but you want people to be able to recognize your event materials, even if your logo isn’t on them.
- Document logistics and share them. Being able to delegate tasks is key! Don’t be a barrier to allowing others to help you in the organizing process. Prepare a list of and contact info for all volunteers/workers, just in case you (or others) need to check up on someone handling a task.
- Share accessibility info in advance. Have a section on your site (whether it’s in the About, FAQ, or Venue sections, just have it) that lists info about locations of ramps, elevators, single-stall restrooms, push-button opening doors, and, if possible, the width of door jambs. Users of mobility aids will want to know if they can easily get around your event, and including this info in a prominent place on your site will let them know that they aren’t an afterthought, and that you do care about their needs.
- Ask about AV needs, plus prepare for anything. Make sure any presenter knows if they need their own laptop. Keep on hand enough dongles to connect to a projector or house sound system, where applicable. If a presenter can’t use the AV in place immediately, things can get bad fast. Be sure someone knowledgeable is standing by to help. And even better if you can test everything in advance so there is no question when the presenter is about to start.
- Be sure there are a variety of food and drink options. Have vegan and gluten-free options. Clearly label any allergens, like soy, wheat, dairy, and nuts. And label spiciness level, if something is hot, so it doesn’t come as a surprise. Provide alcohol-free drink options that include sparkling water, sodas and juice, and make sure people are able to customize what they want to drink.
- Diversify presenters and attendees. Reach out to more people, especially people of color and nonbinary presenters. Ask around, send info to user groups, post info on forums, ask members of the community to do outreach to new-to-you groups, and check out similar events for ideas and inspiration to see who is speaking and attending.
- Have a backup plan. Something is bound to go wrong, so try to anticipate and plan for it. Ask someone to be a speaker stand-in, just in case. Make sure you know another photographer who has the date available. Talk to a rental company about how much tents cost and how long they need for set up. Verify with all vendors 5 days in advance to be sure they know the address they’re delivering things and what time you need them by.
- Attend other events at your venue for ideas and things to avoid. See where they put their registration tables, whether they brought in different furniture, or how they set up their signage. Is the flow of attendees working, or are there groups of people blocking access to doors or food? Learn from their successes and mistakes.
- Plan for post-event marketing. Have a wrap-up statement ready to go before the event even starts. Make sure it thanks everyone. Post-event, update that draft by adding curated photos and some event highlights. Post a teaser to it on the homepage as soon as you can after the event, and include it in full as a blog post that you can link to on social media platforms.
Event planning can overwhelm even the most experienced organizer. Keep these tips handy to help you keep you focused and motivated.