Holding your event without proper planning is like going skydiving without a parachute. (Let's hope for the best? No!) Proper preparation ensures that you get up in the air and the ever-important parachute ensures you have an amazing (and safe) experience floating to the ground.
When it comes to event planning, it is crucial to strike a perfect balance between the grand vision and meticulous attention to detail. Failure to do so can result in neglecting either aspect, which is undesirable.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the realm of big-picture event planning. We'll explore the pivotal role in transforming that vision into a resounding success in a later article.
The big picture of a live event covers several factors:
- Date and Time
- Venue and Setting
A successful, well-run event will have a well-defined purpose and outcome. The purpose is the why: why are you holding the event? The outcome is the what: what concrete changes do you want to come out of the event?
Believe it or not, events have the potential to be marred by a critical oversight: forgetting the true purpose. When event planners fail to align the experience with the genuine purpose of the gathering, the results can be disastrous.
For example, an annual shareholder meeting might have the purpose of sharing information and deciding on future plans. The intended outcome would be for everyone present to be fully informed about the business' latest developments, and for shareholders to vote on new directions.
The purpose of an event will obviously vary, it may be inspirational, informational, celebratory, ceremonial, or some combination of these.
Date and Time
Selecting the perfect date and time for your event is a crucial decision that requires careful consideration. The significance of these factors may vary widely from one location to another, and also depend on the type of event you are holding. For example, a corporate all-hands occurs quarterly, while a university event follows a traditional schedule.
Consider whether your event, like a corporate meeting, is linked to an earnings report, a significant anniversary, or another noteworthy milestone. If so, starting the event production planning process well in advance can provide you with a distinct advantage, allowing you to secure the ideal venue and establish valuable partnerships.
Are you dependent upon the CEO or other dignitary attending in person? Their schedule alone may dictate the event date and determine how much time you’ll have to plan. Identifying a small range of dates may allow you to reserve a venue or partners as contingencies.
With the rise of hybrid events, you could still plan your event for a certain date and place and have presenters as well as attendees participate from almost anywhere. Always have this option in mind.
Finally, be aware of the expectations associated with the agenda and duration of your event. Be sure the schedule aligns with the amount of presentation content and plan appropriate breaks for attendees.
Venue and Setting
Your event venues will vary depending on the main purpose of your event. You could use the company cafeteria for typical employee briefings, a local auditorium for more focused town hall meetings, or a regional convention center when you need to present multiple sessions and breakouts. These are the important considerations in selecting the venue - does it have capacity for the number of attendees and the various sessions?
Transportation and logistics might not even be considered for a CEO town hall meeting, but are critical to gathering your global sales team for their kick-off.
Hybrid events have slightly different needs than fully in-person events. You might opt to have many small in-person gatherings for your geo-diverse workforce, connecting them by Zoom/Teams or streaming. If this is the case, there is a critical need for rock-solid network connections and high-quality AV presentation equipment.
Content! What will you fill the time with during your event? Think about this early, as it can influence every other decision, including the venue, seating, and AV to just name a few.
Speeches alone need a good sound system, but adding the introduction of your product’s Super Bowl Commercial requires good sound PLUS large screens for the audience. Detailed training sessions require classroom style seating and interactive sessions may benefit from half-rounds. You can see how complicated this can become.
If you are planning a hybrid event, you should take care to accommodate both live and remote participants as equally as possible. This includes not just streaming your video playback or PowerPoint, it also means considering how to include them in interactive sessions. Some activities may not be possible for both. Others may require a little bit of creativity on the event production side.
One final thought on something that happens often but many aren't ready for it: be prepared for content added at the last minute, such as music or presentations.
At last, we get to possibly the hardest constraint of them all: money. Depending on your situation, you might be setting the budget yourself, or have already been given a budget by a higher up in your organization. Your budget determines every other choice you make about your event.
But things don't always go according to plan, and you may find that your budget is less than optimal. Here’s where you may need to start making tradeoffs, and it happens to all of us! The bottom line is to know how much you have available to spend and be prepared to discuss with the venue and your vendors.
Ultimately, when you have short lead-times, you may need to spend more to get the same results and have an event planned months in advance. Don’t expect that your vendors can honor the same price when you book them last minute.
Conclusion: The Importance of Comprehensive Planning
One key theme that emerges is the interconnectedness of each factor involved. Every element relies on other elements to function harmoniously, emphasizing the importance of comprehensive planning.
Undeniably, planning the big picture is important. Without considering the big picture of your live event first, you can easily leave out a crucial detail that affects everything else. Equally important, however, is the meticulous attention to detail. In our next article, we will delve into strategies that will breathe life into your vision and pave the way for a successful outcome.
At HB Live, we engage in collaborative partnerships with meeting and event planners, catering to a diverse range of events, whether they are live, virtual, or hybrid events. Our expertise and guidance can assist you in making crucial decisions and crafting an exceptional experience pre and post event. We’d be happy to help!