Life is a culmination of events which are either planned or unplanned. My main focus is on events that you know about and where you have control over what happens. Having attended several events in my life, ranging from parties, weddings, corporate launches, dance competitions etc, I have made several observations of things to look at to make your event excellent. I have also noted things that people focus on which end in an overall rating of below average. People generally get tired of events that are mediocre in their flow, when movement from one stage to the next seems to be a pain or something that was never planned at all. We are not all event management specialists but after this you will be able to critique an event objectively
1. Detailed Planning – Pay close attention to detail – Events do not just happen when you set a date. Things will not just begin to take place because you simply desire them to. It calls for hours to be spent planning, critiquing, revising, modifying etc. The failure of any event is usually tied closely to the lack of detail in the planning. A simple pin for a wedding gown has potential to delay the wedding by 2 hours. Nothing must be left to chance. It must make sense on paper first before you can actually have it happening. If the planning team cannot visualize in their minds how the event will happen then there is a high likelihood of important issues being relegated or forgotten. Follow a checklist and tick as you go.
2. Budgeting – If it is not budgeted for, why spend on it? – This is best do you have the funds to meet the overall goal? Channel you funds to critical areas first. It is unwise to spend money on the first thing you think is necessary for the event. A budget must be carefully crafted with a holistic picture in mind. Start with the crucial matters first. A function needs the following critical pillars: A venue, Food, Entertainment, Excellent Master of Ceremony. The issue of budgeting ties well with paying attention to detail. Budget even for things that seem to be silly items. Where possible, ask for sponsors to cover some of the items. When a sponsor brings in their products, discuss and agree up front in terms of what the sponsor’s expectations are.
3. Human Resources – Get the correct people on the bus – Do you have the skilled people to execute the key issues e.g. food, entertainment, master of ceremony (free, jovial, hilarious) etc. You need people with event management experience on your planning team. You also need to compliment the team’s efforts by way of excellent service providers who have the right portfolio and experience. You cannot expect miracles if you are not willing to hire the competent service providers. Enter a service provision agreement where it is clear what each organization or individual is expected to do and what you are also expected to do as the owner or vision carrier of the event. Both sides of the bargain have to be met for excellence to really come out. If you can’t organize an event, hire a competent event planner and organizer. Sometimes you can plan your event and then call in an event organizer to execute your plan on the day.
4. Create a Guest List – Send out the Invitation – Sometimes invitation of guests is left until a week before the event which is a total disrespect for people’s time. You need to realize very quickly that you are dealing with people who also plan their lives, some a year in advance. Target your audience and invite them. Events which are just open for all to come usually have surprises, either you find too many people coming and scrambling for few resources or you spend thousands of dollars and a fraction of the people come. What a waste? Your invitation card or advertisement must spell out the critical detail concerning the event; date, time, venue, cost (if any), dress code, directions (map where possible) and possible RSVP details which could be by email or calling whichever the invited guest decides to use. Sometimes you may need to call the guests as some are not as organized enough to confirm their participation without further probing. Be the organized one.
5. Communication is important – especially with service providers – Call them every now and again to check on their progress. See if you cannot help them in any way possible. Some of them may be struggling to fuel their car in order to get their job done excellently. They may be too shy to mention hence you take the initiative and ask “What are those things that can hinder or stop you from performing your duties excellently at this event?”. If you are the event coordinator and planner then you need to keep communication lines open with all stakeholders (guests, event owner, service providers). Over communication is usually better than assumption.
6. The programme – Determines the flow of events– Check to see if everyone has the same version of it. A programme will determine how much is spent on what. It seeks to remove boring gaps in the event which could lead to people leaving before the event has even achieved its objective. Without a programme you will drive invited guests into boredom. You programme must have a clear indication of the progression of events up to climax of event and wind down. General observation is that guests should not have the detail but a general flow. The detail should be in the hands of the committee, service providers, master of ceremony and events manager. Work towards eliminating gaps on the actual day. The master of ceremony is important in creating an atmosphere of continual enjoyment even though certain things may go off the rail. He is the cover-up person for any mishaps that may occur on equipment etc.
7. Choice of venue – Make sure it is suitable – Is the venue suitable for the kind of event you are doing? Have you booked and paid a deposit? Do you have the contract of hire of this venue in writing spelling out what aspects of venue you have access to and what you cannot? Are you bringing your own tent or there are components covered in the venue cost. Your venue has a way of telling the audience or invited guests about the quality and seriousness of the meeting. Venue is one of the most critical elements of an event otherwise you will not have an event at all. Once this is secured, you almost have a guarantee that everything else will fit in and around that variable. Get the authorization in writing (Contract), Get to understand the venue restrictions e.g. you cannot hold a music festival in a residential neighborhood that has decibel restrictions.
8. Food and Refreshments – Do u have enough food for the invited guests? If you know the food will not be enough you just have to be upfront about it in your invitation e.g. “please bring card in order to be allowed in. Strictly no children” etc. Always ensure that the food is prepared on the day of the event, a few hours before the event starts. I have personally had enough experiences of food poisoning at big events such that I no have developed enough skepticism about food.
9. Overall Purpose must be clear – Is purpose to entertain, to teach, to motivate, to bring awareness? What exactly do you want to gather people? Until this point is clear, you will not know what to prioritize. Everything will seem to be crucial hence you may major on minors. The overall goal is what every team or service provider will work towards. It is this goal that we measure how successful an event was. There is need to ensure every critical element of the event is fully aware of the vision and purpose lest the teams pull in different directions.
10. How much publicity has been done to promote? – This is dependent on the number of guests needed or expected. You cannot use the media like radio and TV for a private function for invited guest. It would be unnecessary wastage of resources. However you can mobilize people faster and quicker and across geographical locations spanning thousands of kilometers using new ways of publicity such as e-marketing. It is the publicity stance and steps you take that will raise the much needed awareness. It is definitely a waste to have a world-class event that people never get to know about.