How Do I Start Planning My Event?

Articles Event Planning

Strike A Pose.

I am a proud parent today!  My daughter came home and told me that she wanted to have a sleepover.  I know that a sleepover isn’t uncommon with school aged girls, but this one came from my daughter.  She had a terrific idea for an event and she was super excite about it.  She called it the make-up, model, and movie night and proceeded to tell me exactly what she wanted to do that night, who she wanted to come (and who she didn’t), and what food she wanted to serve.  As an Event Planner, I was through the moon!  My daughter just planned her first event!  Well she had a clear vision of her event which, as I tell my clients, is the first step to all great events.  After she provided me with her vision, she was a little lost.  She needed to know when she could have her ultra-exclusive sleepover, what types of invitations to send, when to send the invitations for maximum attendance, who will do their make-up, and on and on.  This was a clear example of someone with the vision, but had no idea how to put it in to action.  Event planning is all about having a process that you can customize to fit any size event.  At Prism Events we use a 5 step process to help our clients get from their event concept to completion.   I’ll share them with you.

Step #1  Create your vision

Who do you want attend your event?  What do you want to accomplish with this event?  What type of environment best fits your event?  Be as specific as you can when answering these questions because it will help you in the next steps.  In the case of the sleepover, my client was very clear about her ideas which made it easier to move to the next step.

Step #2  Estimate your budget  

Once you have your vision, break it down and determine what you will need for your event.  Some examples would be meeting space rental, lunch for attendees, parking, microphones for speakers, etc.  Our budget checklist can help with this step.  Get quotes and estimates for each item that you checked. Our sleepover had a very tight budget.  We needed jewelry, crowns, fingernail polish and other fun stuff to model.  Pizza, popcorn, chips, juice and cookies for F&B.  Everyone was responsible for their own sleeping bag and we provided the movies.  This is usually where my corporate event clients say that they want the world and I have to reign them in to meet a more realistic budget while keeping the event quality high.  My daughter was no different!  I kindly explained to her that we didn’t need to shop at the most expensive stores for our accessories when the kids were not going to wear them anymore.  It was a very deep discussion about must haves and like to haves.  I talk about this in my event planning workshops as well.   

Event Planning

Check off your event planning tasks.

Step #3   Plan your event  

This part may not be as fun to you as it is to me.  You will need a timeline to help you to complete your event milestones on time.  There are also several apps and web based software that will help you through this stage. We have a timeline that can help.  Depending on your event, some items may not apply to you, but use it as a guide and customize it as you see fit.  


Step #4  Execute your event 

Planning the event and all of the small details is the hard part and takes the most time.  Executing the event on site is where all of your hard work pays off!  One of the most important things here is to make sure that you have enough personnel to execute your event and your staff is familiar enough with your event to direct attendees and give correct information.  There are other important things, but they are too numerous to mention here.

In our simple event planning example, both my daughter and I were familiar with the event and we were the only “staff” needed.  We had a good time and the events of the night went along smoothly.  The cookies were awesome!

Step #5  Evaluate your event  

Make sure you and your team are brutally honest about the successes and failures of the event so you can make it better.  Remember the questions that you asked yourself in the vision you created?  Go back to your answers and see if you have achieved your goals.  If not, determine why and create a plan to fix it for next year.

I could not have been happier for my daughter planning her first event.  I guided her through each of the steps and it was a fun experience for both of us.  When it came to evaluating her sleep over she was not shy about what she absolutely loved and what she would like to differently next year.  I love those types of clients.  I have a couple things to add to the list myself, but all in all it turned out great and I am very proud of her.

I used a simple example to demonstrate that our 5 steps can be used on practically any event.  In the corporate event planning world of conferences, expos, and galas these steps work just as well.  Please take advantage of the free tools that we offer to help you get through the first three steps of planning your event and check our website for updates on our next workshop where we discuss these steps in great detail.

Happy Planning!

Jamel Shuford
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