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The devil’s in the details

August 27, 2012

Event management requires blood, sweat and tears. Okay, so it’s more like coffee, organization and sometimes tears. Regardless, it’s a passion I’ve developed at MarketWave, where I work on numerous accounts centered on events marketing.

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I’ve enjoyed developing these skills so much that I set a mastery goal of becoming an “event planning expert” to enhance our team’s strength. With this focus, I’ve learned that no detail is insignificant – they are the building blocks of a successful event. Here are four best practices that help me focus on the details, while not losing sight of the big picture:

  1. Excel is your best friend. I have multiple spreadsheets, with each row representing an event and each column representing a specific task. Each row and column is color coded according to the status of the task: begun, in progress or complete. For large events like a conference, I recommend an overarching timeline with separate tabs for the nitty-gritty details.
  2. Outlook reminders. Instead ofmultiple Post-it® notes scattered on my desk, I set Outlook reminders for major tasks – payment deadlines, recap emails to clients, sending run-of-shows (a concise, yet detailed timeline of the entire event) to my event team and more.
  3. Follow-up fever. Never underestimate the power of the telephone. Instead of various emails back and forth, I call my client, or event contacts, regularly to follow up on the status of event details. There are plenty, and can be easy to confuse, so it ultimately takes less time to have a short discussion where all issues can be fully considered. Besides, your inbox will thank you.
  4. In their shoes. When writing a run-of-show, put yourself in the event team’s shoes. Imagine what you would need to know in order to properly execute the event. Imagine any questions that you might have. Then, imagine you are a guest – how would you know where to park, what room to enter, where to register, what to bring? See the event from your client’s and the audience’s point of view – what would they like to see? What would they not be pleased with? Running through the event in your head, from all angles, will open your eyes.
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Inevitably, there are things that will not work out exactly as planned. In those situations, think quickly and refer to your run-of-show in order to find an appropriate, and speedy, solution.

Stay tuned for a follow up post on this subject! Until then, how do you focus on the details when event planning?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Whitney permalink
    August 28, 2012 9:55 am

    Annie – that is an excellent recommendation. Two sets of eyes are better than one!
    Bana – such an important piece of advice to be flexible and not sweat the small stuff. My follow up post will touch on that topic.

  2. Annie Dawson permalink
    August 28, 2012 9:16 am

    Another step I have found helpful is to run through the event with someone else. Sometimes it helps to have a fresh perspective from the outside to pick up on an item that was missed. I also like to see how others organize their events so it gives me fresh ideas for other projects I may be managing.

  3. Bana Varnon permalink
    August 28, 2012 8:57 am

    One thing I’ve learned from event planning for clients and planning my own wedding: don’t sweat the small stuff! You can’t expect everything to work out perfectly – it never does! Be flexible and improvise so that hiccups don’t throw you off your event-planning game.

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