An event planning checklist for knockout events
Great company events rarely fall into place without a considerable amount of planning. There are many steps including budgeting, timeline creation, promotion and more that must take place to ensure your event’s success.Event planning can be challenging and it is very time consuming. The process can be overwhelming but with these simple tips, you can plan a knockout event that will have people coming back for more.

Form an event planning team
Start by determining if this is a one-person job or if a committee is needed to plan your event. The larger and more complex the event; the more likely you will need to form an event planning committee. Form a cross-functional team to maximize member effectiveness and get a wide range of viewpoints.

Develop an event budget
Your budget will drive your event so determine these numbers up front—the more detailed the better. Prioritize needs and wants and decide how dollar amounts will be allocated. A detailed plan will help you avoid budget overages.  Be sure to leave a 10-20% cushion for changes or surprises.

Create an event timeline
Start by picking a date and creating a timeline to ensure everything will be done when it needs to be. Not allowing enough lead-time could steer your event down the path of failure.

6 – 18 months out

  • Select a venue for the event
    Many things will determine the type of venue you need for your event. When deciding where, consider the event’s date, time of day and projected number of attendees. Can your venue accommodate any special needs your guests may have? Will transportation be required? Will all your media requirements (ie. projectors, microphones, speakers, etc.) be provided?
  • Book talent for the event
    Great events host great talent that engage its audience. Will you have a keynote speaker? Will entertainment such as live music or a magic act be provided? What accommodations will these folks need?
  • Choose an event theme
    Themes give events a fresh and new feel. There are endless themes to choose from and choosing early will allow you to tie in even the tiniest details.
  • Who’s catering the event?
    A great way to showcase your event’s theme is with food. It is best to get your caterer booked right away, but rest assured that you will likely not have to finalize food choices until a few weeks to a month before the event.

2 – 6 months out

  • Choose your décor and activities
    Great events, with great themes, need great décor. Be sure to allot time and funding for decorations, tableware, centre-pieces, etc. Find out ahead of time how far in advance your venue will allow you to decorate. Now is also a good time to plan any activities and games that complement your event theme.
  • Order party favours
    Everyone loves to receive gifts, which may be appropriate or even expected depending on the type of event you are hosting. Consider gifting this tasty treat—chocolate truffles complete in a logo imprinted, gift-wrapped box. Or, create a memorable impression and print your message on a picnic basket cooler or a Grill Master barbeque set.
  • Promotion
    Countless hours spent planning doesn’t guarantee a good turnout. You need promotion! As soon as a date is set, provide advanced notice by mailing a save-the-date postcard or magnet. The official invitation can come later.  Post event details to social media outlets, to your website and in your company’s newsletter. Remind people to RSVP with email blasts.  Consider printing flyers or yard signs for display in common areas. Your audience needs to hear your message 8-13 times before they notice you’re talking to them.

The day of
When the date finally arrives, make sure you’re prepared to roll with the punches as even the best planned events can have bumps in the road. If time permits, try to sit back, relax and enjoy your hard work.

Evaluate your event’s success
When it’s all said and done, remember to evaluate your event’s success. Briefly survey attendees and ask what went well and what could’ve been better. Also, be sure to rate your vendor’s performances. This information will be helpful in planning your next big company event.

Remember, with some hard work, attention to detail and careful planning, your event can be the one everyone’s gathered around the water cooler talking about. For more information on how to plan your next great event, read our Blue Paper on the subject!

Anderson, Arnold. “Business Event Planning Checklist.” EHow. Demand Media, 27 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 June 2012.

McLellan, Drew. “5 Ways to Promote Internal Training and Events.” 5 Ways to Promote Internal Training and Events. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 June 2012.

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