7 Insider Tips for Planning a Great Event

Cory’s Audio Visual has participated in more than 60,000 events in our 64-year history of providing audio and visual solutions for our customers. Because of that, we know exactly what can make or break an event of any size. In short, we have seen the good AND the not-so-good.

Ensuring these tips are at the forefront of planning your event can guide you in the right direction, no matter the event’s purpose, budget, or size. Sure, you can Google tips for building your budget, writing your goals, and more. But, we want to share with you the real insider tips learned in our seasoned history.

1. Communicate your purpose, goals, targets, and timeline.

By clearly defining what you want from your event, who you are targeting, what steps you will need to take, and your definition of success, event planners can easily communicate to all involved, including vendors, what the end-result of the event should be. All partners and vendors should know your goals before getting started. Your vendors and partners may have great ideas to help you reach the goals that you haven’t thought of yet.

2. Pick the right vendors.

Getting to know your vendors and developing a trusting, mutually-beneficial relationship can go a long way on event day. Knowing your event is in good hands with the caterer, the AV team, the florist, and more can save headaches and worry when the clock starts to tick for your event.

Hire a vendor who is solution-based. Your vendor should look beyond their equipment, their entree, and their lighting to focus on the goals of the big day.

If a vendor isn’t interested in your goals or budget for the event – run.

Another sign of a good vendor is their ability to working within your boundaries, bring great ideas to the table, and provide outstanding customer service.

3. Don’t add your audio visual needs last.

Let’s be honest. Most event attendees don’t notice audio visual until something goes wrong. We have all been to an event where the microphones, screens, video, or speakers suddenly don’t work. Or, when the back of the room doesn’t know what the front of the room needs. All of the sudden, event audiences are distracted away from the message and plans are derailed.

Plain and simple–  Audio visual (AV) can make or break your event.

Rather than including AV toward the end of your planning, like many event planners mistakenly do, it is important to include your preferred AV team as you select your venue and craft your event goals.

Some things you need to have mostly prepared before calling your AV team:

Approximate audience size
Program elements

 4. Conceptualize.

Every event attendee walks away with their thoughts on an event. Whether it was the decor, the music, or the message, each will carry those sentiments to their friends, coworkers, and family. Identifying what you want your attendees to say will help you place budget and time priority in your plan.

5. Be flexible.

A key personality trait in event planners is flexibility. Event plans can change on a dime. If a dessert is wrong, a speaker is sick with the flu, someone’s name is wrong on the program, or whatever it is, it is important to remember the overall goal for the event. Sure the details matter, but your carefully-selected vendors will help ensure that those changes are met with solutions and help.

Flexibility doesn’t just end with adjustments made at the event. It also impacts your budget. It is important not to box-in your budget so tightly that things like adding 10 extra last-minute guests, needing an extra microphone, or someone spilling red wine on the venue’s carpet will break the budget completely.

6. Engagement.

Recently, Nielsen Company revealed that adults spend more than 10 hours a day in front of a TV, computer, or phone screen.  It is not hard to believe some of that time will be during your event!

The trick is to not fight cell phone use, but to embrace it.

By creating a way for your attendees to join the conversation, you can raise the amount of engagement and understanding of your message. For example, using a social media scroll of all the approved posts using your event hashtag can create a buzz online and at the event itself. Some events use live polls, apps, and online Q&As to draw engagement that can last far beyond the event day.

An example of great event engagement is Oklahoma’s Infant Crisis Services hosted their Boots and Ballgowns gala. Their event purpose was to raise money to see that no baby goes hungry. Cory’s Audio Visual made it possible for their hashtag #boots4babies2017, which garnered hundreds of posts on Instagram alone, could be launched directly onto the stage backdrop. Attendees couldn’t wait to see their photo on the big screen. Infant Crisis Service blew their fundraising goal out of the water and social media lovers walked away loving their newfound 15 seconds of fame.

7. Test, test, test.

Listen up, seasoned event planners! Make the time for a full-blown practice, even if this isn’t your first rodeo… or luncheon, or gala, or… you get the picture. It also doesn’t hurt to double-check your venue (even if you have been there before) before the event, walking through the timing of presentations and transitions, and running your ideas by other people can help work out the kinks.

Other great resources for event planning come from groups like Meeting Professionals InternationalBizBashRental & Staging Network, and the Society of Event and Wedding Professionals. Following our tips and other tips from professional organizations can put you many steps ahead on your path of creating memorable, successful events that create a buzz and, most of all, results.
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