The Step-By-Step Guide to Planning a Successful Event

How to plan a successful event

Photo courtesy of Powers Studios

Being put in charge of planning an event can be stressful. There’s so much to do, so many details to think of! The struggle is knowing where to even start. We’ve been in the event business for more than 14 years. For the most part, we’ve gotten to be part of amazing events, but there have been a few “rough around the edges.” To help you plan a successful event, here is a step-by-step event planning “cheat sheet” with all the best tips you need to know:

  1. Determine a goal for your event. This might seem obvious, but ask yourself: does your event have a mission statement? If everyone attending leaves with one takeaway, what would that be? Simplify as much as possible the purpose of your event. Doing so will keep you focused throughout the event planning process. 
  1. Pick your event’s “dream team.” No matter how large or small your event is, you can’t do it alone. You will need help from others! If you’re the idea person, make sure you enlist help from an administrator and vice versa. Ask people you want to be involved well in advance, whether they will be the keynote speaker or the MC or volunteer coordinator.
  1. Run through all the event basics. These are all the “boring” but necessary details. Choose a date and a time. Create your guest list. Determine a time frame for the event. 
  1. Outline your budget. You can’t plan a successful event without knowing your budget. Understand the restraints you’ll be working within, and allot money for each category of your event: venue, food, guest speaker, favors, rentals, décor, etc.
  1. Assign jobs and create a process. As you begin to understand the tasks necessary to plan your event, establish processes for important details such as how the budget will be handled and how communication will flow. Assign point people to each area of planning your event as necessary: who will be in charge of securing a venue? Who will take care of publicity? Who will handle the guest list? Include every aspect of the event, and make sure someone is responsible for taking care of it.
  1. Create an agenda. This has two angles. First, build a timeline for the event planning process complete with dates you want certain tasks accomplished by. This will keep you and your team on target. Second, create an agenda for the event itself. While it’s likely to change over time, seeing the big picture of the event will help everyone be more focused as you prepare.
  1. Begin securing vendors. List the types of vendors you’ll need to work with (venue, rentals, catering, photography, etc.) and choose your top options in each category. Make calls, and work with individuals to find the right fit for your budget and event personality. For ideas, check out our favorite Portland vendors.
  1. Start getting the word out. Whether your event will be a small gathering of 25 people or a large event open to the public, you need a publicity strategy to make sure the crowd you want to attract shows up. For private events, be sure to send save-the-dates and invitations in a timely manner, and make it easy for people to RSVP. For public events, strategize how you’ll get the word out (TV? Radio? Social media? Print ads?) and begin creating buzz.

Planning a successful event takes a lot of hard work, but so long as you stay organized, you’re sure to have a fantastic success!