“If what you are doing is not moving you towards your goals, then it’s moving you away from your goals.”
Brian Tracy, Author
You handle a lot of projects for your firm but wouldn’t exactly call yourself an event planner. Nevertheless, you’re the one chosen for the honor of planning the big event. So you ask yourself, “How hard could this really be? I’ll just figure out the who, what, when and where and call a hotel. Easy, right?”
Hold on there! Before you make a call to anyone – a hotel, conference center, event planner or event production company to “put on a show” – be absolutely sure you’re NOT making one of these four common mistakes. Because any one of them can kill your credibility and the good will your company has with employees, clients and suppliers.
1. What’s Your Why?
Often, companies say they want to hold an event, but don’t really know what they want to achieve. This is the why, the raison d’être, the big picture reason for gathering all these people together in one place.
For example, achieving company wide uniformity, employee engagement, introducing a product or service, rewarding employees, and demonstrating growth are all excellent reasons for a corporate event. Combining goals is good, too.
Management may already know the why, but someone still needs to articulate the objectives before you make the call. Think about what the firm would consider a successful event, and what you want the executive team to say when it’s all wrapped up. In other words, start with the end in mind.
“No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.”
Alfred North Whitehead, Mathematician and Philosopher
2. Doing It All Yourself
If your bosses want an external event, they want more than a two-person web meeting. Similarly, don’t believe that you get what you pay for when it comes to in-house AV at the venue. Those costs aren’t promising you a team of technicians that can provide secure speaker content management, flawless audio and video recordings, audience polling, webcasting, photography, program registration, and on-site staffing for hundreds or even thousands of event participants. They just guarantee that someone will be there. And when something doesn’t work, well, good luck finding someone in charge. Oh, wait, that’s you.
Instead, find an event management company with expertise, experience and the people to do it right. But before you sign on the dotted line, read how to find the perfect outside event production company: Event Production Company Best Practices - Part 1
3. No Follow Up
An event without follow up is like a super fun first date without hope of a second one, because you forgot to exchange contact info. It was wonderful in the moment, and everyone is basking in the afterglow. But then you (and they) never call. What happens now?
Now comes the follow up. Your boss is about the bottom line, so collection and summary of event data, like post-show surveys and polling, is important. And marketing needs someone to edit live recordings for website placement and social media content and distribute all of the above to attendees. Accounting needs a reconciliation of the event’s actual expenses to the budget.
Who will handle the myriad details afterwards? Have you done it before, on top of your regular, day-to-day responsibilities? When will you do it, on top of your regular duties? Think about these tasks and assign responsibilities before your event. Otherwise, you’ve only done half your job.
“A first-rate organizer is never in a hurry. He is never late. He always keeps up his sleeve a margin for the unexpected.”
Arnold Bennett, English Novelist
4. Not Expecting The Unexpected
Call it Murphy’s Law, or just poor planning. Smart people and event production companies know that if anything can go wrong, it probably will. For example – your next presenter wants to use some equipment that wasn’t previously ordered or didn’t bring the right adapter for their laptop, or maybe the event next door is using a lot of equipment that causes a power outage. Pop-up requests and mishaps are surprising to everyone (including you). And who will get blamed? Oh yeah, you.
So take a deep breath, be smart, and understand that experience is worth its weight in gold. In fact, re-read mistake #2. This is where working with event production specialists can safeguard your event as much as possible before it even starts. Odds are they’ve seen it all before and know what to watch out for.
Whether you’re embarking on your first event or your 99th, don’t make these big mistakes that will hamstring your event before it even launches. And good luck! You’ve got this.