I have a confession… I am a recovering perfectionist! There I said it. Now that is out of the way we can get down to the nitty-gritty of why we are here: how to organize the perfect event.
I bring up the fact that I am a perfectionist because I want to dismantle the myth that being a perfectionist is a humblebrag or even a benefit disguised as a shortfall. I used to struggle with being “a creative” and being a perfectionist because art is subjective, so trying to make it perfect is impossible. I also struggled with not being the conventional organizer who has all of her notes color coded in her perfect bullet journal. Nope! Instead here are some simple tips on how to organize the perfect event:
Throw perfect out of the window. I know, I know. The title is very misleading but the best chance that you will have at putting on the best event is if you let go of all of the anxiety of having a flawless event. Ten years of stage performance has taught me that something will always go wrong, what really matters is how you recover. Which leads me to my next point…
Have a game plan. When I sit down to plan an event I ask myself the 5 Ws:
Who? Who all do I need to put on this event? Think of people you need to secure for the main entertainment, any speakers or orators. Any tech crews that you would need to help set up audio/visual components or any catering? What about greeters, ushers, or stage hands? If you're drawing a blank have no fear! Just lean into your what!
What? What is happening that night? Grab a pen and a piece of paper and walk through the event. Write out a full schedule from the set-up to the take-down (that would cue me to go back to the “Who?” section and write down how many volunteers I need for set-up and take-down.) How long will the social time be? How much time will each speaker have? When shall we bring out the food? Oops did I trip you up on that last one? Now don’t get confused.
When? When is for the timeline surrounding the event. Of course the obvious example is when the actual event will take place, but when will you send out the invitations? When do you need to have the head count in order to meet the deadline to put the deposit down for a venue? When do you need to have all of the decorations made by? Can you guess what’s next? Well, not “What?” but…
Where? Location, location, location. Where will the event be? Be sure to check the weather and if it’s rainy season have a back up plan. If it’s cold out what plans do you have to keep your guests comfortable? Be sure to check with the venue for all of their limitations and accommodations. Maybe they have decorations or catering or they provide audio/visual assistance. And finally we have landed at our quintessential question.
Why? The reason why we are here. This question poses the intent, the purpose, and the ambiance. If you are planning an event for someone else, what is their vision for the event. If you are throwing a party what are you hoping to accomplish? When you are feeling lost or undecided about something let the “why” steer you in the right direction!
Finally, document everything. This may not be necessary for smaller, more intimate gatherings but keeping record is crucial. A saved email could be the difference between having seating arrangements provided and sweating a new shade of dark grey into your work blouse as you hastily put out 100 chairs three feet apart. If you work with a client take notes during your initial meeting and for the follow-up meeting provide them with a booklet of a clear timeline, cost, and alternatives for the event so you’re both literally on the same page (pun intended).
And there you have it! Three quick tips on how to organize the perfect event.