When the weight of planning a corporate event falls on your shoulders, it’s an opportunity you can’t afford to waste. Rather, it’s an excellent opportunity to showcase your talents and make an excellent lasting impression with management.
However, planning a successful corporate event isn’t easy. It takes organization, creativity, and nerves of steel to help you succeed. These 10 tips will help you create a memorable, engaging, and effective corporate event that is sure to impress.
1. Plan your budget
Your manager should provide a budget. Start by looking at your must-haves, such as your venue, food and beverages, transportation, and equipment. Start adding in your ideal activities, including paying for keynote speakers, getting better equipment, potential entertainment, etc. Get quotes for everything so you can make selections wisely and don’t overshoot your budget.
2. Set goals
Every corporate event should serve a purpose. To create a successful event, you must understand what you are expected to achieve. Some common goals include:
- Information sharing
- Driving desired behaviour
- Introduction of new leaders, cultures, or other corporate drivers
- Celebrations or awards
- Vendor driven events
Once you set goals, you can create a strategy to help you achieve those goals. This is also the best way to get buy-in from executives holding the budget approvals, as well as those who might be driving the event.
3. Create a theme
Even the most business-oriented events can be greatly improved and become more focused when you pick a theme. While some events allow you to get creative and have more fun, others might require a results-driven theme.
Today’s events tend to be more immersive, offering “experiences” that attendees can enjoy. Even educational or information sharing events can use themes to help inspire and engage. Themes can be extremely specific such as using a song, movie, or book, or be more generic such as a historically significant era or a city, like Paris or Vegas.
Regardless of the theme you choose, every activity, marketing materials, set-up and element of your event should reflect that theme cleverly; your goal is to help people easily catch the theme.
If you have to stretch too far to weave the theme seamlessly from element to element, it probably won’t work as you hope. Poor execution of a theme will only lead to disappointment and confusion for participants.
4. Choose a logical date
Everything must come together for your event on a single date. Your venue, caterers, keynote speakers, guests of honour, entertainment, required rentals, and more must be available.
Planning is everything, and a schedule will keep everything on track. Choose a date that won’t interfere with major life events like the holidays, long weekends, popular getaway times like March Break or summer vacations, etc. This will ensure you have the best turnout. You can then use your target date to start booking everything needed.
5. Choose a venue
Once you settle on a date, you can start hunting for a venue. There are many different options, from traditional banquet halls and hotels to less traditional museums or golf courses.
Timing and budget are key, but so too is your budget and travel. You want a venue everyone can reach easily — unless your event has a glamorous destination like New York City or Vegas. You should also ensure your venue can assist with as many items on your checklist as possible, including:
- AV equipment
- Ample space
This will make your life all the easier while also helping to manage your budget more effectively.
6. Create a timeline
Once you have the basics ironed out and a date scheduled, you can create a timeline. List everything that needs to be done and assign a deadline for each item to keep things moving forward.
It is common for event planners to work on a sliding schedule, as different elements get done sooner than expected, and others fall behind. Don’t be too tight on deadlines and leave wiggle room whenever possible so that you don’t find yourself running out of time.
7. Engage with immersive activities
Experiential marketing has led the way in creating immersive activities people expect to experience at events. Your activities should be designed to meet your goals, whether it is to encourage learning, persuade people to come on board with new ideas and cultural changes, or celebrate achievements.
Your activities should tie in directly with your theme to keep everything cohesive, but not be too far off the mark that they don’t contribute to your goals. Immersive activities — such as using gaming for learning — help people retain important information while motivating them to participate in planned activities.
Immersive experiences can also be used for presentations, embracing the latest technology to add excitement and improve audience participation. You can use activities during presentations, such as having people pair off or form groups to try an experiment or achieve a goal together. This makes people part of the lecture and allows them to try something new.
8. Schedule your event activities
Even a simple gathering requires some form of schedule. It might simply list arrival, breakfast, and presentation, but it still helps manage people’s expectations and schedules. The more complicated your event and the more activities available, the more important your schedule becomes. Because major conferences might have multiple speakers and overlapping activities, a schedule helps attendees plan their time wisely.
9. Plan meals and refreshments
Each event will have different needs when it comes to meals and refreshments. Some might just need coffee and a continental breakfast, while others might include breakfast, lunch, coffee, and a five-course dinner.
Your event schedule should include time slots for meals, but you should also consider additional catering needs such as coffee stations, cocktail hour bar set up, snack stops, etc.
10. Sending out invitations
Once everything is written in stone, you can send out invitations or announce the event. This should include:
- Date and time
- Schedule of events
- Information about meals
- Information about entertainment
- Keynote speakers
- Mandatory activities
- Elective activities
- An email address for questions
- An RSVP to help manage catering orders
For major events or events with large attendee numbers, it also makes sense to set up a website or landing page with all relevant information and FAQs.
These tips will help you plan a corporate event that hits all the right notes with attendees, executives and participants alike.