Your boss turns to you and says the most chilling words any employee can hear (short of “you’re fired”): “I want you to organize our corporate event this year.” Reason to panic? For some, maybe. Planning a corporate event can be a stressful task – overwhelming, if you’ve never done it before. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are seven tips for making the process easier.
Know your budget
Setting your budget beforehand is essential in guiding your planning. This may sound like obvious advice, but vague event budgets are more common than you’d think in some office environments. Make sure you know exactly how much you expect to spend. Include all the details, such as food, entertainment, location rental, parking fees, insurance, security, printing, and supplies.
Know who’s going
Is there anyone in the office with an allergy to certain foods? Anyone who doesn’t eat certain foods due to religious restrictions? Any vegans or vegetarians? How about thedisabled? Will workers be bringing spouses and kids, or is this an adults-only event? You’ll need to know who’s coming in order to find a location with the right access and plan your menu. It’s often best to pass around a questionnaire that addresses these questions.
Leave enough time
Many new event planners make the mistake of leaving too little time to plan an event. The amount of time to leave depends on the event, but expect to take three months for most smaller events and six months for an average one. Leaving things until the last minute is a big reason why event planning is so stressful for so many people.
Ask for ideas
Your coworkers will definitely do less grumbling if they’re involved in making the event a success. If possible, organize a committee of planners who answer to you. They can be an informal group in charge of generating ideas, polling other workers, and getting a sense of what attendees would like to see. If not, pass out a questionnaire or set up a drop box for ideas. Some will probably be unrealistic, but there are sure to be some great suggestions as well.
Scout for food
At the start of your event planning, keep an eye out for good food. If you like a certain restaurant, ask if they cater. Check with friends at other companies to see if they liked the food at their last corporate event. If so, ask if you could get in touch with their event planner to get the name of the caterer.
Hiring entertainment? Be sure to get professionals
You may need to hire entertainment for your next corporate event. If so, ask the entertainer to come in for a live demonstration. Most entertainers will have videos to send, but you’ll get a better idea of their skills and stage presence in person. The entertainment you hire can make the difference between a memorable event and a torturous one. Whenever possible, hire professionals instead of people who entertain part-time. It will make a big difference.
Know your theme
You should have an idea of your company’s personality and what’s appropriate for the group. A more conservative company will probably be expecting a speaker. A company with a more relaxed personality may be up for anything, from hypnotists to rock musicians. If there are going to be kids at the event, make sure you hire performers who entertain the adults as well. This is crucial, as bored adults can bring a party down as quickly as bored children.
Part of successful party and event planning is thinking of solutions to problems before they happen. As part of the planning process, write everything down that could possibly go wrong, from the likely to the outlandish. Then brainstorm solutions for each problem. If you’re holding your party in an outdoor location, weather can definitely be an issue, so be sure to plan a rain location. Make sure you have more seating than you think you need. And always have at least one person on site who is certified in first aid. Planning a corporate event doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It takes organization, anticipation skills, and a little imagination to get it right. But these skills can be developed –
especially if you give yourself enough time to plan. So take the time, write out a budget, and take a deep breath – your event is sure to be a success.