So you've been asked to do the company event, and here you are without a degree in Event ... There is one, BTW, with Internet courses even: ... it happens, and even if y
So you've been asked to do the company event, and here you are without a degree in Event Planning. There is one, BTW, with Internet courses even: http://www.ises.com/.
Anyway, it happens, and even if you thought it would be fun, when faced with the task, it can be daunting. You are about to become the conductor of a large orchestra. Here are some ideas from my years as an event planner.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Find out your budget. If they didn't think about that - the money, you know - you'll have to jump ahead and make your plan so you can provide a realistic request for money.
With or without a large budget, you can do a great event. More on this later.
If there's a history, get your predecessor's file.
If you're in a loop, in other words if you get out, go to parties, trade shows, luncheons, anniversary banquets, and charity balls, you have enough information. It's just a matter of connecting the names, and your gut instincts will tell you where the yentas are that can provide this.
Failing that, book your event in a reputable hotel and get with their Catering Coordinator. She'll have a full rolodex of great leads for you!
Other sources for information are any good PR firm, or the 'designer' florist or stationer in your town. These people are often event-planners in disguise.
These are the basic elements to an event:
·Food ·Liquor ·Master of ceremonies ·Speaker ·Entertainment ·Program ·Photography ·Invitations ·Decorations ·Door prizes And you may need seating chart and table markers, and in some cases insurance and a Health Dept. permit.
In the meantime, get out and look around. Do a quick Internet search and check out websites like: http://www.specialevents. com and http://www.event-solutions.com.
Churches and non-profits offer a plethora of opportunities for practice. That's how I got started - working with the pros. They weren't being paid, but if you're putting on a Charity Ball for 1,000 people that brings in $100,000, you're a PRO.
I went and hung out. Got on a committee, then headed a committee and worked my way up. The Mavens were grateful for help, and, like anyone else with serious responsibility, they parceled out projects to me as my abilities warranted. A true apprenticeship.
Keep your eyes and ears open, and you'll learn the political side of it, which is tricky. You'll also learn the things you really need to know, like for heaven's sake don't ever be the one who manages the seating chart the night of the event. It's hideous! Assign someone who's firm but pleasant, or just naïve enough to agree.
Of course everything you do, you do with tact, and you've worked to develop your emotional intelligence competencies, which is good, because you're going to need them.
How so? Because this can be the original "Little Red Hen" thing. Everyone has an idea, and wants this and that, and no one wants to do the work. I remember the CEO who called me in a week before an event to announce there had to be one of those big cakes with all the candles brought in. Hmmm.
ASSIGN & DELEGATE
Delegate any task you can. For an idea of how to organize this, take a look at a program from a big event, or those ball flyers. They'll list all the committee chairs.
There are many ways you can get things for little or no money. Entertainment, for instance. If you look around town, you'll find groups who perform for the love of it, and they can be quite good.
Remember that children always "work." They can be as bad as bad, and that much more adorable. I had a group of kids perform free) when I did a New Orleans Jazz Brunch. I had a professional jazz band lead in with "When the Saints Go Marching In" and the children, dressed in Mardi Gras costumes, ran around throwing coins, confetti, and streamers.
Throwing confetti? I had a hotel Event Coordinator agree to let us bring in men on motorcycles if we agreed to clean up any oil spills.
You truly never know!
There's also a serious Boys' Choir in S.A. I've used, and they were worth what they charged.
Stay away from amateur comedians. Bad humor is irretrievable and so is your reputation.
EXPECT THE WORST
Because it will happen. I've had every volunteer fail at some point - no decorations, no program ... You just have to learn how to cope. If decorations person f ails, buy a pretty floral arrangement for each table. If there's no money, buy that crepey paper and "wrap" each table like a gift.
HAVE A TRANQUIL FRIEND
Your nerves may be a bit on edge. I remember the maitre d' who saw me about to decompensate at set-up time, who took me in his arms and said, "Let's dance," and waltzed me around the mess in the ballroom that was bad and getting worse.
I remember the chef who told me at set-up time that he couldn't possibly serve this in less than 3 hours, "Surely you jest." Lucha was there. She went into the kitchen with him and came back 30 minutes later saying brunch would be served in 50 minutes.
KNOW YOUR CEO
Some need to be briefed on how to run the show; some don't.
Ready sources for speakers are ministers, community leaders, university professors, and professional speakers. And hey, ask the mayor. You never know!
Getting door prizes is easy. Send out form letters or make phone calls to business owners telling them they'll get promotion in the program. Restaurants will kick in dinners, airlines will give tickets, hotels will give golf packages. These places have budgets for this kind of thing. They'll also foot printing costs.
Process after the event and keep things in a file. You'll want to remember what worked and what didn't.
Susan Dunn is a personal and professional development coach who helps clients discover their strengths and live authentically. Visit her on the web at www.susandunn.cc and mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for FREE strengths course, put "strengths" for ezine.