Whether we realize it or not, most everything we undertake in life can be termed an event – from the act of getting dressed in the mornings to preparing for bed at nights.
Of course, some events in life are more important than others such as a births, weddings, etc. But everything we undertake requires PLANNING. Sometimes we take this fact for granted.
Getting out of bed and getting dressed in the mornings have almost become an automatic response. Some of us go through the motions without thinking too much about it. However, the science of Event Planning requires a more structured approach.
Planning an event requires four basic ingredients – (a) the objective/s (what one wants to achieve from the event – the purpose); (b) the date (must have a beginning and an end); (c) the venue (where the event will take place) and (d) a budget (how much the event will cost).
Each of these ingredients is vital to the execution of the activity. There is no point in planning an event without first understanding what the purpose of the activity is. For example, if one is planning a book launch, one of the objectives of the launch would be to promote the book to as many persons as possible.
However, the amount of persons to be invited will depend on the size of the venue and the size of the budget.
All public venues are rented at a cost, and the cost of the venue is part of your budget. There is also the matter of refreshments which also feeds into the budget.
The Action Plan
Another part of the structured approach is the Project or Action Plan. This Action Plan is a systematic detail of all the tasks or activities that must be undertaken during the life of the project.
This is the guide which will assist you to execute the event with very little room for error. The Plan must not only include the tasks, but the person/s who will be responsible for completing each task and the date each activity is to be started and completed. The tasks should be grouped in date order, paying attention to the antecedents of each activity.
The antecedent of an activity is any activity that needs to occur before another. For example, as in the case of planning a book launch, your first activity in the Project Plan cannot be to “book the venue” or to “send out invitations.”
The antecedent of that activity must be to prepare your budget as the budget will determine your spending power, and consequently which venue you can afford and how many persons you can afford to invite.
Each activity within the Action Plan must be detailed from the start date of the project to the day following the project execution. Some Action Plan dates even go beyond that, as in the case when a report is required. In such cases, the close out date may be a week or ten (10) days after execution, when the report becomes due.
Reviewing the Action Plan
The Action Plan is not a static document. From time to time during the project, the Action Plan must be revisited and updated.
There will be occasions where the start/or completion date of an activity may change for some reason or another. These occurrences could change the planned delivery of invitations for an event, for example.
Although invitations to some events are now being sent electronically, never-the-less, depending on the caliber of an event, as in the case of formal events, some hard-copy invitations must be dispatched. Sometimes, both methods are used.
The Event Planner must keep abreast of the changes to the Action Plan and advise all parties concerned so they are aware of those changes.
Consider the date of the event. In the case of a public event, as much as possible, avoid religious days and most public holidays. If a government official or public figure is to be invited to play a pivotal role, ensure that the individual’s diary is clear and confirmation is received by the relevant party before formally announcing your date.
If a particular speaker is critical to an event, then the date of that event may have to be structured around the availability of that speaker. Speak to other groups of your kind to ensure that your event does not clash with any other event which could attract the same audience.
Finally, visualize a successful event from beginning to end. Mentally walk through each phase of the planned event; see all its component parts and see it as being a winner. Remain calm and focused.