Do you have to plan an event quickly?
Even though every event organizer dreams of having a full year or more to plan the perfect event, the reality is typically far less. You may even find that the ball has been dropped in your court and someone else has walked away, having finished very little of the planning. If you have 30 days or less to pull everything together, then you’ll want to print out this checklist. It’s going to be your lifeline to pulling an event even under less than ideal circumstances.
Plan an Event Checklist
When you only have 30 days to plan an event, you learn to focus only on what is really important, delegate the rest, and hope for the best. You’re going to have to accept that everything isn’t going to be perfect. It wouldn’t be anyway, even if you planned the event for three years. Things always do go wrong.
Now that you understand that, use this checklist to make it go a little better than you might otherwise expect.
30 Days Out
Sure, there are a lot of little details to plan, but when it comes down to it, you need three main things to pull off a successful event. Before you start anything else on your checklist, check off these things and you’ll be good to go:
__ How many people are you expecting? Can the venue hold that many? Do you have a venue?
__ Secure the venue immediately by sending a deposit. Since you’re in a time crunch, you can work out the other details later.
At this point, you can’t be picky. You’re going to have to think outside the box. More than likely, big venues are already booked. Try smaller hotels, community centers, local parks, which may have shelters and buildings you can utilize, and even places such as breweries and wedding venues.
___ Get a keynote. This is your most important speaker. This is the person who will draw attendees.
Here is the time to work all of your connections. Who owes you a favor? Who has a famous family member or friend? Be open to people outside the box of your industry. They may offer inspiration, after all. Sports figures are an interesting choice to give motivational speeches, for example.
___ Immediately after you secure your keynote, make travel plans for him/her and make sure you know how the person is getting from the airport to the venue.
Food is a big part of the average person’s life. You have to eat to survive and most people enjoy food. If you are including snacks or meals, you’ll want to check the following:
___ Check with the venue about whether you can find your own caterer or you need to use theirs.
___ Secure the caterer or the right dates/times and get costs. Crunch the numbers.
___ Choose the meals/snacks. Make sure you consider any food allergies.
At this point, you don’t really have time to go around and taste test a bunch of caterers. Instead, you are going to go on reviews and recommendations and hope for a positive experience. After all, you only have 30 days to pull this event together!
3 Weeks Out
___ Gather your event team. You need help. You need volunteers.
___ Find more speakers to offer smaller workshops.
___ Buy name tags and other promotional materials.
___ Make sure registration is in place and that you know how you’ll handle check-in the day off (software, process, etc.)
This is the time to start thinking about those little details that you want to implement to make your event special.
2 Weeks Out
___ Promote your event on social media. Give your keynote a shout out. Tell people how to register.
___ Find centerpieces if you need to supply those.
___ Check with the venue to see what info they need from you. Are any additional deposits due?
___ Create your conference schedule timeline and print up brochures to hand out so everyone is on the same page the day(2) of the event.
Even though it might change slightly, at this point you should know who is speaking when, what time meals are, and where everyone will be located.
1 Week Out
___ Make sure each speaker has the equipment needed. Touch base with the venue for this. If you can’t provide this, let the speaker know NOW, so s/he can prepare.
___ Send reminder to all attendees, letting them know you’re looking forward to seeing them next week.
___ Pick up anything you’ve ordered. If anything didn’t arrive, re-order and overnight or find an alternative.
Things are getting crazy. Don’t forget to breathe! Remember that things do not have to be perfect.
By the time the big day arrives, you should just be in management mode. You should have chosen volunteers from your team to check people in. You should know who is speaking when. Your job is to:
___ Touch base with the caterer
___ Touch base with speakers and see if they need anything
___ Make sure each room has requested items
___ Make sure centerpieces are in place (or delegate this task)
___ Be on hand for any last minute changes or emergencies.
Phew! You did it. You pulled off planning a big event in only 30 days. After the event ends, treat yourself to a day off or a massage. You’ve earned it!