Invite speakers. Check. Notify guests. Schedule your meeting at the venue. Check and double check. Regardless this is the first occasion you’ve planned an event or the 100th, one thing never changes: You want your event and everything associated to it to work out smoothly.
Breaking the process of the planning down into achievable tasks and goals will help you to stay focused and achieve your mission to organize an amazing event one task at a time. It is a difficult job and there’s a lot to consider about, but with proper planning and our convenient checklist, sorting out a corporate event can be fun and rewarding.
A little advice before we start… Start as soon as possible. Planning a corporate event involves a lot of waiting around for responses and confirmation from others. So get started with the planning process as soon as possible.
If you are new to the company, see if there was a similar event last year. If so, track down the person that planned the event. If they’re not there anymore, see if they left a “Planning Binder” behind. Often times, successful planners will keep all of their notes to make it easier for them the following year, or just easier on the next person planning the event. See if there are any post-event notes, or ask around for feedback. This will let you know which vendors to avoid, what else needs improving on, and it will also give you an idea of what your colleagues expect.
Master Planning Timeline
When it comes to arranging a company event, there is too much to consider. Similarly to a wedding organizer, you would invest months of planning to get every detail down to the spot.
Prior start: 6 Months
- Obtain information of what type of event you will host, what are the goals and objectives?
- Select a date
- Prepare a preliminary agenda
- Find a venue and get budget proposals
- Consider all the vendors you will need
- Choose the theme and color scheme
- Guest list: Start for special guests
- Create a registration link for the event (in case required)
- Book the speaker(s) (if needed)
Between 4-6 Months
Before the 4-6 month mark, choosing a planning committee is maybe the next important step. Pick a right mix of colleagues to help you, you’ll want people who have excellent organizational skills and have great attention to detail.
- Pick a planning committee
- Set goals to achieve
- Agree on the budget
- Create 2 options for food menus
- Hire the photographer and/or videographer
- Meet & select the caterer
Before 3 Months
This is the ideal opportunity for you to pick a particular award, honors or prizes for the event in addition to any gift bags, mementos, etc. The best corporate functions usually have a couple of major awards and then something more representative for all involved so that all guests feel welcome and included.
- Choose the food menu
- Create a draft script
- Order awards/plaques/gifts
- Write, design and print event programs
- Send your event schedule to all vendors
- Hire a DJ, music band and/or a MC
Before 2 Months
Time to spread the word out! You’ll have to promote your event, regardless it’s invite-only or you’re looking for people to sign up and attend, you need to send out the invitations (print or email) and ensure everyone knows and is excited about it.
- Follow up with all vendors and touch base if you haven’t done so
- Send out the invitations
- Promote the event on the company’s website
- Meet with the photographer/videographer
Before 1 Month
Time to check those RSVP’s. Unfortunately not everyone will always respond in due time so it’s a good idea before the 1 month mark to find out exactly how many will be attending. Send out the final payments and contact any sponsors.
- Check registrations and send-out a mass email to remind to all members and guests
- Request items needed for the event
- Order audiovisual equipment – wireless microphone, projector, etc.
- Send out final payments to the vendors
- Contact sponsors to review the event
- Request formal resume from guest speaker(s)
- Visit the venue to make sure you know exactly how you want to set up (tables, food, stage, etc.)
Before 1 Week
By now you should know who’s attending, it’s time to create name tags and/or make seating arrangements. Confirm again times and topics with all guest speakers; duties and responsibilities with committee volunteers and planners. Before the one week mark, everyone needs to know exactly what they’re doing and when they’re doing it.
- Confirm arrival times with guest speaker(s)
- Delegate all small operational tasks
- Create a timeline of the event
- Send the timeline to committee volunteers
- If you haven’t finished paying vendors, set aside checks for them
- Finish host scripts and email it to all the key speakers
- Send the set up plan to the venue (tables arrangement, food, stage location, etc.)
- Send the final guest list to the caterer
- Print-out registration sheets
- Determine security needs
- Create name-tags for all registered attendees
Before 1 Day
A couple of days before the event you should have ready the function timeline, make any necessary changes and adjustments and double check with all volunteers, caterers, organizers and every one in charge that they know the course of events as well.
- Go over the event timeline with committee volunteers
- Finish last minute details
- Confirm staff/volunteer responsibilities
- Visit the venue to make sure the set up (tables, stage, etc.) is done as requested.
- Confirm delivery times with all your vendors
- Prepare for any contingency
The Day of the Event
Arrive early to look out for the details and ensure everything is placed where it ought to be. Check with on-site staff and do a last walk through or rehearsal of the activities to make sure the event will go off easily.
While the event is unfolding, make sure to partake in some activities too, blending with guests and make sure everyone is having a good time. Network with attendants and engage with them through social media to further promote and advertise about the event, this will make sponsors happy.
- Arrive to the event venue early and supervise all deliveries
- Do a walk-through of your event
- Check with the venue technicians for any potential problems with the setup
- Hold a final rehearsal a few hours before the event, check the sound and lighting at the same time
- During the event: listen to what people like and dislike (this way you ensure your next event to be even better)
- Encourage your guests to be active on social media, this will help to promote your company or brand
Some of the points listed seem a bit nitpicky. However, having everything down ensures nothing is missed out due to a lapse in memory. It doesn’t matter whether you use a paper and pen or a digital organizer; what’s important is that you have a medium where you can check off each item on the list and you can either add to or customize to suit your own event.