Tag Archives: planning events

Keep your sanity (and hair) while planning an event

I love event planning. It’s an art. An event planner needs to possess certain skills to host a successful event, such as attention to detail, organization and the ability to be flexible.

Out of all my job responsibilities at Franco, event planning is my favorite. I’ve planned smaller events, but never a large event for several hundred people. One of my clients is a Detroit-based organization that wanted to host a town hall meeting to provide information to its members.

Save the date! Event planning is easy once you get the hang of it.

This was my chance to put my events skills to the test on a much bigger scale.

In the initial planning stage, we set up a meeting with the client to ask the five w’s: who, what, where, when and why.  Answering these questions helped guide me in organizing a successful inaugural town hall meeting.

• Why are you having this event?

In the case of my client, the organization wanted to relay important information to its members in an informal way. It also would give the attendees an opportunity to have questions answered.

• What type of event is it?

We decided the best way to present information was through a town hall meeting with a panel of speakers to deliver the message. With any type of event, make sure event insurance is in place. This will reduce liability on behalf of your client and everyone will be protected.

• When will the event take place?

The best time for the town hall meeting, based on our understanding of the audience’s work schedules, was in the early evening on a weekday.  Also keep in mind the length of the meeting. You don’t want to lose the interest of the attendees. Keep it simple and to the point. No one wants to sit in a lengthy meeting after working all day.

• Where will you host your event?

Since our client is based in Detroit, we needed to find a conveniently located venue with the capacity to hold several hundred people. I worked with the venue staff to determine onsite catering and technology needs for the speakers. Once the venue was secured, we did several site visits to visualize the set-up and work out any potential problems.

• Who will be involved in the event?

The obvious answer was the client. But, we also had to select an additional three speakers to touch on specific topics. The speakers were experts in their areas, and would be helpful during the Q & A session. Other key players that were important in the planning process was the venue management, tech staff and of course, the attendees.

As with any project, organization is the key to success. If you’re not organized, the end result will be less than fabulous. I found that keeping a spreadsheet with action items and deadlines kept me on track.

One last word of advice: You can plan down to the last detail, but sometimes not everything will go as planned. In my case, the volunteers showed up late causing me to do a little extra work with the set-up. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. I didn’t panic, took a deep breath and worked a little faster. It could have been a minor disaster had I not been able to roll with the punches. You need to be able to think quickly on your feet in case something goes wrong.

Hopefully these tips will help make your next event a success.

Have I left anything out? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

Andrea Kenski is an account executive at Franco Public Relations Group. She has successfully planned two town hall meetings with a third on the horizon. She has managed to keep her hair throughout the planning process. You can reach her at (313) 567-5092. You can also follow her on Twitter: @detroitcitygrrl.