There are two seemingly contradictory secrets to pulling off a successful event. First, create a detailed plan, because in event planning, the devil's in the details, as they say. But also be prepared to be creative on the fly and just "make it work" because things will happen on game day that even the best planner didn't anticipate.
One must is an event-planning checklist. You can search online and find a wealth of tools or create your own, but make sure your checklist is thorough and continuously update it. Beyond your checklist, here are a few other tips for a successful event.
Don't try to do it all yourself. Create specific areas of responsibility (budget, set-up, media, registration, etc.) with clear expectations for each member of the team.
Meet regularly. Hold regular meetings or conference calls that involve each person with an area of responsibility for the event. Increase the frequency of these meetings to as often as daily as you count down to your event to make sure all the last minute details are attended to and questions are answered.
Do a walk through with your team. Even if it's a site or venue you've used before, go do a walk through with this specific event in mind. Think through each movement of attendees - where will people enter? Will there be a registration table? How will people flow through the space? Do you need signage?
Have contingency plans. Planning an outdoor event? What's your rain plan? Counting on using a wireless connection? Better test it first.
Create a contact list. You may actually need to find another team member at 4 a.m. the day of your event. Don't be scrambling for numbers then! Create a mobile phone list that includes members of your team and vendors.
Provide credentials. If there are areas of your venue that will be restricted in any way, create credentials to make sure it's clear who can go where. Laminating pockets and lanyards can be easily found at any office supply store. For very large events, you may want to create different color credentials for staff, volunteers, media and VIPs. Use the back side of the credential for your staff mobile phone list, radio numbers or event schedule.
Pack your bag. Take a box or backpack with supplies you might need on site, such as Sharpies, index cards, tape, stapler, paper clips, notepads and pens, extra batteries or battery charger, etc.
Staff up for game day. Make sure you have enough staff and volunteers to handle each aspect of the event, then add a couple more as "floaters" who can attend to unanticipated needs.
Make it work. Are your dignitaries facing the backdrop with their backs to the cameras? Cheerfully interrupt and reposition them. People sitting in the row where you'd planned to seat dignitaries? Politely help them find another seat or vantage point and mark that aisle off with the supplies you were smart enough to pack in your game day bag.
Enjoy the moment. Seriously? Yes!! Almost every event has a high point that you and your staff and volunteers should take a moment to appreciate. You made this happen! Then get back to work...
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