|Posted by Stephen Lemire on March 22, 2012 at 9:00 AM|
The events that I organized included community health fairs, state-wide trainings, regional workshops, and state or national annual conferences. These meetings were typically for members and the general public and would draw anywhere from 50 to 3000 attendees. (The planning of these events was in addition to the organization of monthly, quarterly, or annual board of directors’ meetings which I participated in as an ex officio member.)
With each event that I organized I added more attractions for attendees in order to draw them to the program or to reward them for participating. It was always an exciting opportunity to create something new each time whether it was a networking social, poster session, live demonstration, or finding a way to incorporate a local tourist attraction. Over time I learned to work closely with the area’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and Chamber of Commerce as well as with event site staff and any local connections I may have had.
There are a few keys to success which I always focus on when planning events:
1) The agenda must be timely and objectively meet the needs of the audience.
2) The presenters roles are to facilitate (not lecture) and to meet the objectives of each session.
3) Attention to detail is vital (food quality, room temperature, etc.).
4) Customer service cannot be understated (the registration process, greeting everyone, etc.).
5) Create opportunities for attendee involvement (networking, group discussions, etc.).
6) Evaluate and measure the success of the event and make continuous improvements.
7) Demonstrate to attendees that their suggestions and feedback are put in place.
I created a general template (see
below) that I use for planning events. Depending on the type of event (e.g. an
annual conference would require more detail and a longer lead time) I would
make slight modifications. But this tool was my starting point and came in
Example: QUARTERLY REGIONAL EDUCATIONAL WORKSHOP
4 MONTHS PRIOR
___SELECT DATE (Be aware of conflicts for potential attendees: vacations, religious dates, etc.)
___SELECT SITE (Which city? Contact local CVB and Chamber. Invite bids. Visit prospective venues.)
___SIGN CONTRACT (Negotiate discounts on fees and bundling. Get extended stay discounts.)
3 MONTHS PRIOR
___SEND “SAVE THE DATE” (& LOCATION) NOTICES (Postcards, Listservs, social media, newsletter, etc.)
___POST EVENT INFORMATION ON WEBSITE (Add links and details as they become available.)
___DETERMINE EVENT OBJECTIVES AND ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES
___SET AGENDA AND FORMAT
___INVITE SPEAKERS AND FACILITATORS
___BOOK FLIGHTS & GROUND TRANSPORTATION (Check for courtesy shuttles.)
___ARRANGE TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN MULTIPLE SITES, IF APPLICABLE
___SET PRICES AND SET UP BUDGET
___CREATE PROMOTIONAL FLYER AND ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN
___PLAN ADD-ON EVENTS (Poster session, networking meet & greet, board meeting, etc.)
2 MONTHS PRIOR
___OPEN UP ONLINE REGISTRATION
___ACTIVATE ALL LINKS ON WEBSITE (To registration, to flyer, to calendar, etc.)
___CREATE ATTENDEE SPREADSHEET (For payments, dates and programs attending, etc.)
___WORK WITH CVB TOARRANGE TOURIST DISCOUNTS; GET CVB MATERIALS; PROMO POSTCARD
___ANNOUNCE VIA LSERVS & SOCIAL MEDIA OVERTHE NEXT FOUR WEEKS
WEEK 1) GENERAL ANNCOUNCEMENT/HIGHLIGHTS
WEEK 2) AGENDA AND SPEAKERS
WEEK 3) TOURIST INFORMATION WITH VIRTUAL POSTCARD
WEEK 4) REGISTRATION DEADLINE (SHOULD BE TWO WEEKS PRIOR)
___WRITE-UP NEWSLETTER ARTICLE, PSAs, ETC.
___HIRE PHOTOGRAPHER, IF NEEDED
1 MONTH PRIOR
___SEND PERSONAL INVITATIONS TO THOSE WHO HAVE NOT REGISTERED (& EXPECTED TO)
___SEND INVITATIONS TO DIGNITARIES, MEDIA
___FINALIZE ROOMING LISTS, MENUS, A-V NEEDS
___PREPARE MATERIALS FOR ADD-ON MEETINGS (board of directors, etc.)
2 WEEKS PRIOR
___PREPARE MY PRESENTATION(S)/POWERPOINT(S) – (Put on thumb drive, email, & printout.)
___SEND CONFIRMATIONS TO ATTENDEES
___PREPARE REGISTRANT PACKETS (Nametags, reports, attendee list, agenda, swag, flyer, etc.)
1 WEEK PRIOR
___SHIP TO SITE (Attendees’ packets, banner, camera, supplies, reports, lapel pins, etc.)
WITHIN 1 WEEK POST
___FOLLOW-UP WITH ATTTENDEES (Send online evaluations, thank you’s, receivables.)
___COMPLETE EXPENSE REPORTS AND TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT
___POST SUMMARY, PICTURES, AND POWERPOINTS ON WEBSITE
___PUT RECAP (WITH PHOTOS) IN NEWSLETTER WITH LINKS VIA SOCIAL MEDIA
___FINALIZE EVALUATION REPORT (Share site-related comments with venue.)
___DRAFT AGENDA FOR NEXT EVENT