How to Plan an Event For Work

Posted on May 16, 2017

For the past seven years, we’ve been planning our annual event, The Intern Queen Party. Every year, we deal with new roadblocks and new challenges when throwing this event. At this point, we have a pretty good system locked. If you are tasked with planning an event for work, here are some basic steps to follow that might make the process a little bit easier.

1. Figure out a date. If you are having this party no matter what, then I suggest picking a date. I used to wait for sponsors to ‘approve’ dates and then I realized that they always looked to me for direction and at the last minute if you need to move the date, you can probably just move the date. So, pick a date for the event. Once you have this – you’ll be surprised how much pressure it takes off the entire project. Best case scenario, you pick the date 14-10 months ahead of time. Good scenario, you pick the date 8 months before. And worst case scenario, you pick it 3-4 months in advance.

2. Figure out Budget. How much are you raising from sponsors? How much will your company spend on this event? Try to understand the most they will spend and the least they will spend to really understand the range of what you are working with. If you are going out to sponsors, give yourself a deadline date. I recommend a hard stop and a soft stop – at some point, you just need to say “Okay, I’m done asking for money” so that you can focus on the rest of the event. If you can talk the sponsor into covering the event for multiple years, even better!

3. Make a Timeline. Make a full timeline for yourself of when you need to work on specific tasks and when that specific task should be locked. Things that are on your timeline should include:

  •  Invitation Creation/RSVP process.
  • Venue. Where are you hosting it? When are you doing location visits? When is your final date to decide on venue.
  • Promotional Schedule – When will you announce the party? How will you promote it? What channels will you use to promote it?
  • Vendors. Who will be the DJ, photographer, supply the food/drinks, lighting, any production equipment, rentals, sweet treats, on-site activations?
  • Staff. Who is running the event?
  • Flow. Make sure you clearly articulate event flow.
  • Run of Show. Who will create this and when will they create this by?
  • Swag bags. Gifts.
  • Plan Walk-Throughs of the event space. I like to do this as early as possible with the vendors and then do it again the day before the event if possible.

4. Stay on track. Determine whose job it is to make sure you stay on your timeline for the project. The worst thing you can do it fall behind here. Remember, the goal is not to be stressed leading up to the event.

5. Set-Up Bi-Weekly Meetings. If you need to communicate event status to your team, set-up bi weekly meetings to keep them posted and let them know what to do.

6. Create the Run of Show ASAP. Once you have the run of show created, you’ll be able to really talk through the event and see where the holes exist. My biggest fear with events is that I won’t be organized enough so having this document in place early really helps.