Event planners and professionals who have ever organized a conference or had to make an event proposal know how important it is to have a good plan in place – if they don’t want constant chaos and unnerving stress, that is. Whether it’s a product launch, a wedding or a convention, any event, regardless of size or complexity, can benefit from a clear, well-organized plan that will provide direction, clarify responsibilities, and ensure everything stays on track.
This article proposes a few simple steps and tips to help planners and coordinators create an effective event plan and manage it easily. It also discusses user-friendly event planning software and provides useful resources to get started faster and simplify the management and tracking process.
Best practices for successful event planning
Organizing an event can be an overwhelming process even for experienced event managers, and this is why they begin planning for it as soon as they possibly can – sometimes, this can be even a year or more in advance. The following steps will help professionals put together a coherent plan fast so that they can easily manage all of the moving parts involved in the event.
1. Determine the basic event specifics
Before anything else, event planners usually ensure they have a good understanding of the event’s goal (what the client or organization wants to achieve through it) so that they can translate it into tangible, measurable objectives. Then they select an optimal date for the event, as well as a second-best as backup, taking into account the audience, religious or statutory holidays, and any other factors that may impact the event’s success.
2. Make an event planning checklist
Once the goals are set and clear, managers can easily work backwards from them to create an event planning checklist that lists all key deliverables and activities involved in executing the event. These usually include – but are not limited to – details like:
- Budget, logistics, catering and venue management
- Volunteer management
- Entertainment management
- Sponsor management
- Registration management
- Marketing and PR activities
After mapping out all major activities, event planners can easily prioritize them, organize them into categories if needed, estimate the duration of each task, set deadlines, and assign responsibilities. This ensures that not only the manager, but everyone else on the team has a clear idea of what work is needed from them and when.
3. Turn the checklist into a visual master plan
While a checklist can be a great start in event planning, it tends to be a more passive reminder of what needs to be done, and, in the case of large-scale events, it can get quite long and difficult to digest too. A plan that isn’t easily understood, checked on, shared and acted on by all parties involved defeats its own purpose because, for instance, team members may start to forget the original priorities as new opportunities come up or urgent matters approach.
To keep everyone on the same page and ensure the event stays on track, professionals may wish to turn their checklist into a simple, visual plan that clearly shows all the key aspects on a single page. One way to do this is to use a pre-formatted event planning template such as this one, which is a native PowerPoint timeline slide that users can download for free and manually edit with their plan’s data. More designs and ideas are available in this free timeline template collection.
Use an event planning app to easily manage your plan
No matter how carefully thought-out an event plan is, it is subject to change and it will need regular edits and revisions as the execution process progresses. While a PowerPoint template may provide a good starting point in building an event timeline, editing it manually to update the plan whenever changes occur will become a tedious, time-consuming task. This is why event managers often rely on automated tools to aid in their planning and tracking processes.
Using lightweight event planning software such as Office Timeline Add-in or Office Timeline Online will help professionals manage, track and update their event plan more easily and in less time. The tools were designed to be simple, familiar, and intuitive so that busy managers can get started right away, without having to learn complex functions and processes. Both event planning apps allow users to quickly enter or import their data and instantly turn it into a timeline similar to the templates presented above. Once created, the visual can be fully customized and updated with just a few clicks, as fast and as often as needed.
Although the two tools are quite similar in what they deliver, there is a major difference between them:
- Office Timeline Add-in is a feature-rich desktop app that works on Windows and plugs into PowerPoint, allowing users to build, revise and share their plan right from within the familiar presentation tool. The plug-in integrates with management tools such as Excel, Project or Smartsheet, allowing for automatic timeline updates and data synchronization.
Download and try the Pro+ version of the add-in for free.
- Office Timeline Online is a flexible web-based event planner that works on any operating system, including Mac. It lets professionals build their timeline directly in their browser, access it quickly wherever they are, and update it on the fly using drag & drop. Once ready, the visual can be saved as an image or as a native PowerPoint slide to be used in important presentations.
Make event timelines online now.
Event planning is considered as one of the most stressful jobs, but it doesn’t have to be. With a coherent plan in place and the right tools to manage it easily, coordinators and their teams can stay on top of their event and ensure its success.