How to Throw an Awesome Event

hayley graham

Hayley Graham
Account Director

event

I LOVE EVENT PLANNING. The opportunity to plan and execute an event for clients (or just for fun) doesn’t come along every day, but when it does, I jump at the opportunity to help out.

At DHC, I have the privilege of helping Eastern Washington University plan its annual strategic planning conference. This conference is about celebrating the outstanding progress that is made each year on the University’s strategic plan and educating staff and faculty about what the following year will bring.

This year, I also served as the programming chair on the Public Relations Society of America Greater Spokane Chapter board. This position involves planning seven to ten events a year that focus on a broad range of public relations and communications topics.

For both of these, I’ve learned a few important things that I apply to every event I execute. Following are the five things I think are key:

Dynamic speakers

They make all the difference. But what do I mean by dynamic? It means they deliver a message that is important for all members of your audience—in a way that is compelling and interesting. The speaker’s message has to resonate.

In that also lies the importance of understanding who your audience is and what their role is in the organization or community. And being able to communicate that to your speaker is even more important to ensure their message does the job.

A dynamic speaker also uses storytelling—relevant storytelling, that is. I was reminded of this during this year’s EWU conference, as the speakers fully occupied my attention with a simple story. The key, however, is to ensure those stories fit with the topic and are relevant to your audience.

Planning committee

They’re lifesavers. If and when you ever have the opportunity to put together a planning committee for a large event or conference, do. A planning committee is important because it divides up the tasks, brings together a broad range of perspectives, and allows you to bounce ideas off one another.

A planning committee is also a way to get people involved. It helps people feel ownership of the event, which is usually an important component of the event’s success.

Everything about the EWU Strategic Planning Conference was a team effort. The event wouldn’t have been the success it was without them.

Work plan

Can’t live without it. Don’t start without it. Work plans seem daunting to develop but instantly become your go-to tool. I’ve developed a detailed work plan that I use for every event. The great thing about a work plan is that you can customize it to fit your needs for each specific event.

The work plan helps me keep track of the task, who is in charge of completing it, when it needs to completed, whether it has been completed, and other additional notes to be aware of. It doesn’t need to be fancy; it just needs to work for you and your needs.

Evaluations

They are key. Whenever possible, survey your attendees. The feedback you gather from those who attended your event is invaluable and will help you understand what worked last time and what you should do differently next time. Every event I help plan, I want it to be better than the last. A survey is one way to help ensure that.

Having Fun

Events can be stressful, but remember to have fun. There is no right or wrong way to successfully execute an event. Do what works for you, and more importantly, what will leave the biggest impact on your attendees. At the end, treat yourself to a glass of wine. For me, I like to celebrate with a bowl of Froyo.

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