7 Tips for Planning Live Events

When you are a one-person business, it can be very overwhelming to run your own event. The cost, details, and timeline are just the start. Don’t forget all the beautiful Pinterest photos you are tempted to compare yourself to. (PS – do yourself a favour and don’t look there first!)

Here’s the truth. Planning and running your own successful live event does not have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to break the bank, stress everyone out, and cause you to collapse when it’s over. I have experienced all of the above, and decided that it’s just not worth it! 

Here are 7 of the tips I have learned (some the hard way) over the last 15 years of planning all types and sizes of events. At the end of this post you can get the worksheet that will help you work through all of these tips, as well as revealing an often overlooked secret in planning events. 

1.    Know your purpose.  

This is the place to start. Before you look for any inspiration, clearly define your purpose for the event.
Here are some examples:
-    To show appreciation to your clients (annual thank-you party)
-    To educate your community (topic-specific workshop)
-    To create a space for refreshing and creativity (retreat weekend) 

2.    Choose three words.

Once you know why you are hosting this event, summarize it in three words. These are your guideposts along the way, as you are making every decision. 
-    Casual, Fun, Thoughtful (annual thank-you party)
-    Professional, Informative, Inviting (topic-specific workshop)
-    Community, Space, Creativity (retreat weekend)

3.    Walk in their shoes.

Every step along the way, you want to make sure that you are thinking about all of the key partners involved with the event. Venue, sponsors, caterers, attendees. Your goal is to make everyone’s job as simple as possible. If you are hosting an event primarily to promote your own brand, everyone will see through that. Don’t put yourself first, put yourself in their shoes, and visualize the event from their position. 

4.    Think far ahead.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when planning an event is underestimating how long it will to take to pull it all together. The farther out you can start, the less rushed you will feel and the more enjoyable the process will be. Having time to think about your ideas before you execute them is key.

5.    Create a master plan.

Start with the big milestones, such as booking a venue, and picking a date and time. Then create your plan, adding in the smaller details along the way. Don’t forget to plan things like payment, invitations, the order of the event, refreshments, and creative elements. 

6.    Keep it simple.

As you are making every decision, ask yourself if it will help you accomplish your 3 words. If it doesn’t – then don’t do it! It will only add stress. Simplicity is so underrated. It’s the little things, simple moments, and subtle hints that create an amazing experience. 

7.    Enjoy the moment. 

This is so important! Regardless of what type of event you are hosting, take into account your experience while you are planning it. Have as much as possible done ahead of time, create a clear schedule, and train anyone who is helping you. The attendees will enjoy themselves more if you are having a good time!

Are you planning an event soon? Or have you been putting off your first event because you don’t know where to start? Let me guide you through the planning process with this helpful worksheet, AND learn the often overlooked secret that pulls it all together and makes your event stand out!

Have a success story about an event you hosted? Share what worked for you. 

By Kathryn Hofer

Kathryn Hofer is passionate about helping others live a quality life. With over a decade of experience executing live events, organizing teams and projects, and running a non-profit, she has focused her attention on educating others about the value of planning.
When she’s not planning or singing, you can find her curled up with a good book, a cup of tea and dark chocolate. Kathryn lives in Kitchener, Canada with her husband. They love traveling and eating delicious food.

Find out more about Kathryn at The Modern Planner

Nora Conrad