Love it or hate it, event planning is a task nearly every admin will have to tackle at some point in their career. It may be something simple, like putting together a luncheon for a retiring colleague, or something larger, such as organizing a multi-day conference.
While some might look at it as just another task on a never-ending to-do list, event planning is actually an admin’s chance to shine. Not only does it look fantastic on a resume or in your professional portfolio, planning a successful event demonstrates your value to your employer and facilitates a sense of trust and competency with your colleagues.
For the first-time event planner, all the moving parts and tiny details can be a bit overwhelming. But when you approach it as an event COP (creative, organized project manager), the task becomes easier, and even enjoyable!
C is for Creative
It’s not enough for your event to be successful. It needs to be enjoyable, too. This doesn’t mean that you should decorate the conference room with streamers and balloons for your next board meeting, but a few personal touches go a long way, even in the most serious of events.
Think of the best event you’ve attended. What made it so great? Was it the mixer before the main event? A theme for a conference? The personalized attendee gifts at the company retreat? All these things can make an event more memorable.
Consider following event planning blogs to get a sense of the latest trends. Take note of things you see while shopping or at other events you attend. You can create a Pinterest board or OneNote notebook filled with ideas and add to it as inspiration strikes.
Depending on your budget, you may not have the money for fancy caterers or swanky parties, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your creativity entirely. Some budget-friendly perks can include:
- Table treats
- Company promotional items
- Attendance incentives, such as continuing education credits or certificates of participation
- Name tents
- Contests, drawings, or giveaways
With some creativity and planning, your event will be one people remember for years to come.
O is for Organization
Creativity is nice, but without organization, it won’t matter. Staying on top of all the details that go into a successful event should be a top priority. I recommend developing and utilizing forms and templates. Not only do these tools help you stay organized, they can also save you plenty of time, since they can be re-used as you expand your event planning prowess.
The type of event you’re planning will determine the templates and forms you need to create. Some of the main ones I’ve used include:
- Meeting planning checklist
- Board meeting agenda
- Board meeting planning form
- Board meeting invitation
- Conference agenda
- Conference planning project plan
- Conference timeline for day of event
- Name tents template
- Travel arrangement checklist
- Travel itinerary
- Travel profile
Create these items as you need them, and then save a blank copy. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel; having these forms, templates, and checklists at the ready will save you time when planning future events.
I also encourage you to create a list of key vendors and suppliers, and cultivate relationships with them. Create a network full of travel partners, hotels and event centers, food and beverage suppliers, rental companies, etc. Finding them might take a bit of trial and error, but once you find your go-to vendors and suppliers, you’ll have a list of partners you can count on to make any event fantastic.
P is for Project Manager
Event planning is really just project management. It’s a big job with lots of moving parts that requires organization, attention to detail, and plenty of patience.
Break down your event into planning segments and assign a due date to each one. For example, you may have segments for date selection, venue selection, agenda development, venue coordination, registration, catering, meeting materials, speakers/workshops, etc. When does the venue need to be booked? When is the deposit due to the keynote speaker? When do the promotional items need to be ordered so they arrive in time? Detailed lists help you stay organized and on time, but you may also want to test drive some project management software or apps, too. (My team uses Teamwork, and I can’t recommend it enough!)
Becoming an event COP doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s likely a lot easier than you think! When you put these strategies into practice, you’ll be well on your way to planning events that will have everyone talking!
What’s your biggest struggle with event planning? Email us at AdminSuccess@AllThingsAdmin.com and let’s find a solution together!
© 2018 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.