Working on an event requires the ability to handle thousands of things at the same time. A lot has to happen during the few hours the event is in progress and it is important that everyone knows what has to be done, and in what order to do it. The use of a checklist is essential to ensure that everything will run smoothly.
Depending on the type of event to be organised, checklists will vary in appearance. Below is an example of how a checklist might be designed to give you inspiration when it is time to make your own. No event is the same as another, and you may therefore need to delete some of the points here. But, above all, you will notice that you need to add a whole lot more!
- Running schedule with detailed planning
To create a successful event you will need a running schedule. Trying to create an event without one of these is doomed to failure, even though it is likely that a running schedule will not be possible to be follow to the letter. A failed running schedule is, however, not a problem. The main thing is that you are prepared for it and have a plan B. Have the running schedule feature who is responsible for what, and when and how they should act. All designated times should be listed, even if they will most likely not be fully kept to. But by being prepared for it, you won’t panic if time starts to fly by.
- Rehearse the day before!
On the day before the event it is good to gather everyone involved and practice your running schedule by simulating the day in a condensed form. During the rehearsal you should be aware that times can always be changed during the day, so you must also make sure that there is a "plan B" if times are not kept to. Make sure that everyone’s views are heard about what they think works well in the event, as well as what works less well.
- Create a clear hierarchy
Compare your event staff to a task force or a group of commandos. A lot happens in a short time during an event, just like in a police operation, for example. Your staff therefore needs to have a firm grasp of what they are going to do, and who has the last word on matters. Creating a hierarchical structure facilitates solutions to potential disagreements that can arise under stress, since agreement has already been reached about who should have the last word. Then make a clear ranking of who comes where in the giving of orders.
- Simplify communication
It Is essential that the channels of communication between everyone with responsibilities work without hindrance during the event. For larger events a communications radio (like a walkie-talkie) can be handy for giving orders, while for smaller events it might be smarter to arrange a meeting point where you will all gather at regular intervals to check that everything is proceeding as it should.
- Programme for the guests
Guests usually like to have a programme that they can follow where they can see what times apply for the event. Produce a programme with the most important points for your guests to keep track of. It need not be as detailed as your own running schedule, but rather just list the main features. The times you specify in the guests' programme are ultimately the most important to keep to. You may like to send the programme out along with the invitations.
- Resolve the venue issue early
Do yourself a favour and resolve the issue of the venue as early as possible. Make sure to be realistic and look for a venue which is neither too big nor too small for your event. This is not easy to predict a year in advance, but do your best. It will make life considerably easier for you at the end of the day.
Make sure you send out your invitations in good time so that guests can book it in their diaries while they are still blank. Two months in advance is not at all too early, while two weeks in advance is likely to be far too late.
- Make clear any conditions in the invitation
The invitation must clearly indicate what is expected of the guests. How much will they have to pay and what is included in the price? Do they need to take account of any particular dress code? Should they prepare a presentation of themselves or the company they work for?
- Send out at least one reminder
It is good to send out at least one reminder a reasonable amount of time before the event. It should not be the same as the original invitation as the recipient would probably find it tedious. Spend some time making a welcoming and unique reminder.
- Contact person for the event
Guests should be clear about who they can contact with questions before, during and after the event. Therefore, make sure that there is a contact person available for them. It is best to have just one person deal with this, and it should be someone with a comprehensive knowledge of the entire event – not just of a part of it. The contact person should also be fully aware of who is responsible for what, so that they can forward any questions to the right person.
- Check any licensing requirements
There may be licensing requirements depending on the size of the event. You should therefore in good time check if the venue has the required fire rating and if you need to apply for any permits from the emergency services. Sometimes you also need a license for the traffic situation outside the venue. Check this out in good time.
- Maps and clear signage
Many people are still dependent on road directions, maps and signs to find their way - even though we are living in the age of GPS. Therefore, be sure to include some short road directions or a map in your invitation. It is good to arrange signs to the venue well in advance, and it may also be worthwhile asking someone to test drive the route to ensure that the signs are clear enough.
The food is one of the most important details of your event. You need to make sure to book a good and reliable restaurateur who can be flexible about timings. The best are often booked a long time in advance, so here you will also need to act well in advance to ensure that the food does not become one of the disappointments the guests talk about afterwards.
- Follow up by thanking your guests
As previously mentioned, it is only after the event you can reap the results of your efforts. That is when business starts to get done, and the buzz about you and your company begins. There is much to gain here by giving your attendees attention after the event, as well. Send a card and thank them for their participation, or invite them to next year’s event. Some gesture that shows you are giving them attention.