When you plan your event, whether it’s a backyard cookout, or a large dinner party, does it ever go from dreamy and picturesque to stress? It’s April, and in the next month, I’m organizing three corporate events, two on the same day, in different cities. My calendars and to-do lists look like Gwen Stefani collaborated with Kate Spade on a new line of office supplies: simple and refined (at first) with loads of highlights, strikethroughs, doodles, labels, and sticky notes, creating texture and interest from anyone who notices them. This month, I organized a corporate meeting in Toronto at the Four Seasons Hotel. The vision was clear, and researching venues, photographers, and menus fulfilled my expectations. As the events piled up, along with other organizing projects, the to-do lists were endless and ongoing. My notes were not pretty, maybe the opposite of what a client might expect, but the event was a success because I stayed organized. Events can seem so far in the future and require so much planning. There are so many steps along the way. There's so much room for error. Often, it's not until after the event that you realize you did a good job. So, how do you keep your cool and stay organized when planning events? What strategies can be helpful to manage your event, the plans, the timeline, and the budget?
Here are some of my tips:
- Think of planning your event more as any other organizing project. Take time, and set an appointment for all planning.
- Start with a brainstorm. Then create a plan with budget and timeline, and begin filling in each section with as many details as possible.
- Make an organized list of tasks and decide if/how you can delegate, or where you can bring in help.
- Break up your to-do list into multiple lists and categories as to help organize your to-dos.
- Give yourself deadlines for your to-dos.
This will help with stress, and you will feel a sense of accomplishment throughout the process. A to-do such as “Plan Menu” is way more agonizing and scary than multiple, little steps: 1) decide on the overall cuisine preferences 2) choose if you would like buffet, sit down or a mix of styles for food service 3) look at choices of food for different categories. Companies don’t want to worry about the small details, and neither do your guests. They want to be able to host an event that’s beneficial: great for networking with their partners and employees, building relationships, and giving a feeling of being taken care of for their guests. It’s not about knowing what it took to get it done, but having a great event in the end — that is why people hire me — so that they can show up and host a great event and receive positive feedback.
Here’s what you can do now. Break down your to-do list into small, actionable steps. See where you can delegate and bring in help. Add these tasks to your calendar and planner, to stay in line with your timeline and keep you on track.