When it comes down to it, event planning is a game of details. That’s because there are SO many to keep track of. Between your multiple audiences (attendees, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, staff) and their various needs, plus all of the typical logistics...it’s enough to make any event planner’s head spin!
So, what details in particular tend to trip event planners up the most when onsite prepping for an event or the day-of? Here are seven to keep in mind, whether you are a veteran or are planning your very first event:
1. Having miscellaneous office supplies on hand
It’s so easy to get caught up in the items we know we need (name tags, pamphlets, computer chargers, etc.) that we often forget the items we might need — tape, scissors, staplers, pens. It seems so obvious, but when you’re running around with less than 24 hours until your event, a stapler isn’t exactly top of mind.
In the weeks leading up to the event, have a list labeled “Misc. Supplies.” As you think of items you might need, jot them down. Then, a couple days before your event, revisit that list to make sure you aren’t missing anything.
2. Having “extra” (and enough of it)
This one’s tough because it’s kind of a guessing game. You may never nail down “the perfect amount” but do plan on having extra where and when it makes sense (and fits comfortably within your budget). We’re talking extra food, name tags, and event collateral, in particular.
3. Having staff and volunteer contact information handy at all times
Let’s say, leading up to your event, email has been your team’s primary method of communication. Nothing wrong with that! But the second you leave for your actual event, you (and everyone else working) should have everyone’s phone number handy.
So often we think, “Oh, if I need their number, I’ll just look it up later.” But what if there’s an issue with WiFi, or locating that information? Plus, who has time for that during the event itself! Bottom line: It’s just better to have those cell phone numbers already.
Another great tool is to create a group chat (or multiple) with key players so you have a central spot for any day-of event communications.
4. Having your event’s “first impression” well-staffed
When planning an event, it’s tempting to want to spread your staff and volunteers out — having a few people ready to chat with attendees, a few people “backstage,” a few people outside, etc.
But, when your event first starts, you may want to consider having more people staffed at your attendee’s first impression — aka, registration and lobby for in-person events or email/chat ready to assist with accessing a virtual event platform. (You can always transition those people elsewhere as the event kicks off.)
This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people get it wrong. Sometimes three people “upfront” seems like enough, but lines (and, for virtual, lines of communication) will get backed up. Considering this is the first thing people experience at your event, you want it to go smoothly.
First impressions matter, so ample help is critical!
5. Having important event information printed or featured somewhere
Have you ever been to an event and NOT been able to connect to WiFi? Not because of internet issues, but because you didn’t know the login information. It’s frustrating!
Similarly, for virtual events, you want to make sure that accessing your virtual venue is straightforward and that you communicate those details ahead of time and multiple times.
You may be familiar with the technical logistics, but attendees aren’t! Make it easy for them by over communicating important details, and preparing staff to help.
6. Having the event’s social media info printed or featured somewhere
We want people to engage with us at events, but we can’t expect them to if we don’t tell them how. That said, if you have an event hashtag, feature that prominently during your event.
Include your event’s and/or organization’s social media handles as well so attendees know who to follow and tag. Not only will attendees benefit from this, but so will your organization in terms of online engagement.
7. Having a backup plan
Last but not least, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan — for everything. We often take this into account with weather, but we should really get into the habit of doing that with other things as well. Consider creating a backup plan for…
- Technology mishaps
- Unexpected downtime
- Coming up short on food or drink
- Covering important roles throughout the day, like host or emcee
Want more tips for ensuring your event is a total success? We put together an entire guide full of tips from the pros that first-time event planners may not even think about. Get your free download below!
This article was originally published on 7/10/19; updated on 8/26/20 for added value and clarity.