Prepare To Plan

The great baseball slugger Roger Maris was famously quoted: “You

Photo Courtesy Of City Of Mentor

Photos Courtesy Of City Of Mentor

hit home runs not by chance, but by preparation.” In the world of special events, that concept of thorough and complete planning is the key in providing attendees with an exceptional experience that looks effortlessly produced.

People tasked with creating a new event—anything from a 3-hour mother-and-daughter tea party to a 3-day community festival—must research, conceptualize, and review the initial concept with stakeholders before any decision to move forward can be made. Stakeholders include the people who will make the final decisions regarding the event, those who will assist in the implementation of the event, and the potential participants.

Research And Conceptualization

The research and conceptualization process can be not only the most time-consuming yet beneficial part of the process but also the most creative and fun part. Brainstorm with the team to make the event different than any other. Think outside the box, dream big, and imagine what the function could look like if there were no limitations. If considering a new festival, can the planning team create a themed, green-living or sustainability event that might grow into the future? What about a golf tournament in the snow next winter? Can new technology be utilized in order to capture the attention of the audience at a music event?

Establish The Details

Once a concept has been created, start working on the details. Planning a large event can take months, sometimes a year or more, so select a date that gives staff members plenty of time to secure facilities, equipment, and partners. Carefully research other activities or celebrations in the area that might be scheduled for the date or weekend proposed for your event. Scheduling a new major festival on the same weekend as a large county fair a few miles away might not be wise.

When the date and time of the event have been decided, create a special-event master plan. This will effectively document each step of the planning, implementation, and evaluation process. It can be short for a smaller event, or long for a large, multi-day event, but the thoroughness and time invested in creating a plan can make a big difference in the event’s production. This exercise may reveal, for example, that the proposed facility is either too large or too small, or the stakeholders’ expectations for the event are too costly to achieve. Roadblocks and obstacles are easier to spot and work around in the planning process than a few days before an event.

In creating a master plan, develop manageable sections that include the purpose of the event, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) that may affect the event, and the market in which the event will operate.

A solid plan will outline the goals and objectives, a strategy for the event’s promotion, a course of action for attracting sponsorship, and an overview of the financial resources available.

Analyze Each Component

Define each component of the plan that will take place from the time the event begins to the time it ends, and be specific about the resources for each. At a large festival, for example, there may be 10


or more different activities taking place, such as a parade, a concert, games and activities, merchandise sales, exhibitions, or vendor displays. List the “what, where, and when” for each activity, along with “who” will supervise and implement the activity. Also, list all of the activity’s physical needs, such as tables and chairs, a stage, ice, even port-o-pots and trash barrels. These details are critical because they can directly affect the outcome of the event and the stress load of event producers and staff.

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