No one person could ever manage to organise a full-scale event on their own. Event planning and management is a team effort. But how do you, as event manager, make sure that you have the right team around you? There are a number of ways you can help yourself.
Start your planning early
We noted that starting your planning early is crucial for getting the right speakers on board. It is also crucial for ensuring that you have the right team around you. Big conferences can take up to a year to plan and deliver. You need to start gathering people together, and thinking about the resources and help that you need, at least 9 months to a year before the conference. This will give you plenty of time to ensure that you have the necessary people involved.
Get top management support at an early stage
One of the most important pieces of early planning is to get your top managers signed up to the event. They need, in particular, to sign off the objectives, planned messages, target audience and budget. This will enable you to design a suitable event. Having got initial sign-off, it is important to report back to top managers regularly on progress. This will ensure that you can identify any changes to scope or messages at an early stage, and before plans are set in stone.
Work out what support you need
You will need to manage the logistics of the event, including the venue, catering, AV, and signage. You also need to organise speakers, attract and then manage delegates, and arrange for press and publicity to happen. All of these are full-time jobs in their own right, and you are responsible for the overall project management of the event. You cannot realistically manage all—or, indeed, any—of these as well. You need to be clear about where you need support. It also helps to be clear about the resources that are required.
Work out who can help you from within your organisation
Your next step is to consider what support is available within your organisation on each area where you need support. Is there someone—or a team—that you can trust to do the job? For example, you may have a press team who can handle media relations, and will be happy to do so. If you do not have the support in-house, you will need to bring in external help. It is vital that you have time to select the right organisation or team for this. Starting early will ensure that you have this time, and can choose carefully.
Organise a programme committee to help design the event
Perhaps the most essential group to bring together early on is the programme committee. This is the group that will help you design the event, including setting out the programme, and then identifying and approaching speakers. Involve experts from within your organisation, and draw on their knowledge to ensure that you can deliver the best possible event. Remember that you don’t have to do all the work: the programme committee members should be happy to approach speakers and also get involved in managing the speakers onsite, together with your onsite speaker management staff member.
Start work on publicity at an early stage
It is no good getting your communications or public relations team involved at the last minute. Approach them early, preferably as soon as you have agreed objectives, and start to talk to them about how the event can be publicised. This is crucial to attracting the right audience. As the event gets closer, this team will also be essential to raising awareness, and generating a sense of excitement about the event. They therefore need to have expertise in both mainstream and social media management.
Use your top managers and programme committee to help with publicity
Your high level contacts and experts within the organisation are not just there to sign off on objectives and help to design the event. Both groups can also be involved in sharing information about the event within their networks. Personal recommendations are very important in attendance at events, and a personal invitation or suggestion can go a long way. Keep both groups aware of activity, and ask them to share information on their social networks.