A new year means new events. As Q1 begins, it’s time to look forward to the rest of the year and get the ball rolling on planning our events. Whether yours are big or small, once-a-year or once-a-month, Member365 is here to help you get started on the right foot with a few principles that can apply to plan any event!

Start Early

When it comes to event planning, time seems plentiful – until it isn’t. With months ahead to get things sorted, it’s easy to get lured into a dangerous sense of safety about deadlines. Every year we think we’ve got everything organized until dates get closer, and we can’t help but scramble to manage final details.

That ‘scramble’ is where the majority of mistakes occur for event planners. Stuck in a hurricane of high-priority tasks, leaves us with little choice but to react to problems that come our way. Start early, and you can plan to solve many of these problems before they occur. Eliminating the last-minute scramble isn’t always possible, but minimizing it through advance planning gives you more energy and focus on the issues you can’t plan for.

Plan for Flexibility

Events are naturally chaotic and dynamic. Plans are usually ordered and static.

Planning helps reduce the chaos of events, keeping things ordered so we can be confident we’ll enjoy positive outcomes.

However, it’s important to avoid the pitfall of over-planning. Some planners can’t help but indulge the urge to consider every possible problem and design solutions in advance. This can be a wasteful practice, as there’s little sense in solving problems that never occur. More importantly, over-planning can lock us in a rigid mindset, and undermine our ability to respond organically to problems as they emerge.

Like theatre, managing a successful event requires managers to accept and affirm a degree of chaos. Build flexibility into your event plans to give yourself space, should you need it, to make decisions on the fly. You can’t prepare for every eventuality, but you can offer your future self the space to make the right decisions when problems emerge!

Always Negotiate

Everything is negotiable. Event planners that understand and live by this principle not only enjoy fantastic deals but expose themselves to unique opportunities to boost the success of their events.

One of the best methods to enjoy the benefits of negotiation is to avoid the trap of haggling on price with the classic ‘offer/counter-offer’ approach. If you’re negotiating fees with a vendor, instead of pitching a price, consider stating their needs, stating yours, and asking how you both might come together to meet them. You might find your negotiation partner pitches terms that aren’t price based (i.e. access to a list of prospective attendees) that can offer tremendous value!

Pick Speakers Strategically

Picking speakers strategically is a matter of balancing the needs of your attendees with the needs of your event.

Your attendees want speakers they can expect to deliver the latest-and-greatest insight into your event’s subject matter. You want speakers you can afford, depend on, and expect to draw audiences.

Finding speakers you can depend on isn’t always as easy as we hope. There are always going to be external circumstances that make speaker performance uncertain. Flights get delayed/cancelled, speakers get sick, etc. There’s no way to predict when things will go wrong, which is why it helps to have backup plans. Do you have options you can lean on to keep your attendees engaged and enjoying your event if and when things go wrong? Booking speakers on short notice isn’t easy, but it’s possible when you’ve got a list of a few options to draw from if things fall through.

Drive Decisions with Data

Data takes the uncertainty out of your event management decisions. When you’ve got the numbers to back up your choices, you spend less time worrying about them, and can approach work with more confidence. 

If you’re managing your events as part of a team, data-driven decision making can unlock the potential of each member of your team to drive the success of your events. Defining your goals in quantified, measurable terms eliminates vagueness, keeping everyone on the same page and aligning everyone’s efforts. 

Data-driven decision making also helps manage stakeholders. Justifying your decisions in terms of, for example, the expected impact on R.O.I builds stakeholder confidence. With that confidence, you’re no longer required to focus on managing worried stakeholders and can devote yourself to managing your event.

Automate Everything Possible

Events take a tremendous amount of work. Much of it, with the help of the right tools, isn’t strictly necessary. Automate the work that you don’t absolutely need to do, and you can enjoy the benefit of more time to focus on the work you’re best suited to succeed at.

Consider the task of processing registrations. This task isn’t difficult but is time consuming. The more registrations you get, the more time you’ve got to spend processing them, the less is available to spend on other work.

Your membership/event management software, as a basic function, ought to allow you to process payments and other registration-related tasks automatically. If you’re manually processing credit cards, sending confirmation emails, or building lists – you’ve got a fantastic opportunity to save time through automation.

Not only does automation software take jobs like this off your hands, but it performs the work faster and totally eliminates user error. Software will always be better at performing routine, repeatable tasks. Event managers will always be better at managing people. With the right automation system in place, you can ensure that work is being done by the system or person best suited to do it!