Event management for small events

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Good management, not good luck, must be your mantra when running a small event says Eth Lloyd

There are many experts at arranging conferences and events, however, what about those smaller events within your workplace? If you have never done it before how do you go about it?

If you do not realise that the task of arranging e.g. a cocktail party, is a project, this may mean you do not realise that task would be easier to manage and more efficient if you applied basic project management tools.

When running a small event for your organisation, a helpful first step is to develop a brief setting out what you have been asked to do. Get the person who asked it of you to read, confirm and sign, so that you are both clear on what the task is.

The next step is to plan what needs to be done. Do not start doing the detailed tasks until you have planned what you must do. Develop a list of tasks to be done and the order in which you must do them. You might enter these tasks into your calendar, or diary, or put in your bring-back system, or develop a timeline.

Once you have clearly defined what you need to do then you can start working on the detail. For example, arranging a venue and confirming the time for a cocktail party might involve booking your own organisation’s board room or perhaps booking an external venue. This may affect the time you can start. Once you have a venue, date and time then you can develop the invitation, whether printed or email. What is important is that you can’t develop the invitation until you have all the details to put on it. You of course also can’t send it until you have a list of possible attendees.

The points in the paragraph above show the value of developing the list of tasks and recording them in a “timeline” so that you have everything you need before you start a task.

See if you can have access to any information around previous events arranged so that you do not waste time “re-inventing the wheel”. Take note of lessons learnt by others and what has worked well. Find out if your organisation has preferred suppliers for venue, catering, entertainment, etc. and make use of those where possible.

If you have an amount that can be spent, developing a formal budget (either by yourself if you have the skills or seek help if you do not) is essential to keep within your budgeted amount. Put in estimated amounts initially and then as you receive formal quotes update that figure in the budget.

For example, you might know that catering will be about $25/head so enter that in your budget at the start. When you receive the firm quote and you have managed to get it for $23.50 then change that figure ensuring you always know where you are with costs.

After the event, be sure to enter the final figure invoiced and paid so that you know what the final costs were. Perhaps the supplier gave you a 5% discount for having their invoice paid promptly so yet again the figure was changed and you can track it.

A step often overlooked with arranging an event, especially a smaller one, is reviewing how things went and writing a debrief report. This report should cover what went well, what went wrong and how that was fixed, whether you kept within budget and how you did that. This report will be a great help to those who next run the event and shows your skills in running the event, in tracking the event and in completing the event.

So many administrative professionals “hide their light”. When someone senior to them praises them for a job well done, their most common response is “It was nothing.” For some reason, it is very hard to say “Thank you, I really enjoyed using my skills” and if you had a team working with you, “I had a fantastic team who all contributed hugely to the success”.

Accepting appreciation from someone senior validates the skills you have used and increases your own feeling of worth. Using these basic tools demonstrates the skills you have and will give you confidence to accept that comment of appreciation from the CEO!

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About Author

Eth Lloyd

Eth Lloyd, MNZM, worked for 30 years as a Personal Assistant. Her passion for administrative professionals and their value in the workplace is shown by her commitment to encouraging them to value themselves and their roles. In 2018 Eth was awarded the New Zealand Queen’s Birthday honour MNZM for her services to administrative professional development. Eth is the Chairman of the World Administrators Summit Advisory Council and author of The Executive Secretary Guide to Conference and Event Management, available now on Amazon.

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