Learn about how getting to know your audience and how determining the purpose and goal of an event should serve as the driver for all other aspects of planning.
- Planning an event is a great opportunity to let your creativity and product management skills shine, which is really exciting. So, naturally it can be easy to jump right into the details, and start researching locations, allocating budget, and booking vendors. But as someone who's planned countless events in my career, let me offer you a word of advice. Slow down. All of those details are important, but the first thing that you need to do before anything else is to really get to know your audience and understand the purpose of the event that you're planning.
Take a moment to contemplate the big picture before diving into the nitty gritty. This will provide you with great context, which will ultimately be the foundation of your planning. Understanding the big picture will give you a solid point of reference that you can revisit throughout the planning process. So, how do you start to understand your audience? In some cases, you may be familiar with them already, and that's a great position to be in. But other times you might find yourself connecting with a new team for the very first time.
That's a bit more challenging, but don't worry, do some research, spend time with key team players. Set up a meeting to talk through the team's agenda and ask them what they think will make this event a success. Diving into the vision and mission of the team will help you to really understand what they're hoping to accomplish with this event. Also, ask questions about the dynamics of the team. Are they a newly-formed group that's just getting to know each other, or are they a tight-knit group that's been working together for years? Asking these questions will reveal the personality, character, and style of your team.
You can also ask questions about prior events that they may have held. Learning what worked for them or didn't work for them in the past will give you great insights, and help you come up with the innovative ideas for your new event. Regardless of whether you're planning for a team that you know well or a team that you just met, the key is to put yourself in the client's position so that you can see the event through their eyes. This exercise in trading places will help you gain a better understanding of what's on the line for the client, and what they need from this event in order to achieve their goals.
Once you have a sense of who your audience is, the next step is to focus on what exactly it is that they're trying to accomplish. Is this a group of executives prepping for a board meeting, or a young startup celebrating an IPO? Maybe you're planning a fundraiser for a non-profit that prefers to keep a low profile. When it comes to event planning, there's so many potential scenarios that it's impossible to think through them all. That's part of what makes it so much fun. It's truly a new project each and every time.
Ultimately, the event that you plan should reflect the personality of the team, align with their culture, and support their goals. Keep in mind how your team answered the questions about what they believe will make the event a success. This will be your guiding light throughout the planning process. You're part of this team now, so their goals must become your goals, and their success will be your success.
- Understanding your audience
- Negotiating a budget
- Selecting a venue
- Planning the menu
- Getting the technology right
- Providing transportation
- Planning the timeline up to the event
- Following up after the event