Creating an event is hard. There’s so much to consider, so much that could go wrong. And that’s just with a small event. The bigger the event, the bigger the risk, and it can be daunting to even know where to start. Darren Natale shares 10 tips that he has learned along the way to ensure your next event is a huge success.
1. DON’T CREATE TOO EARLY
Often, the mistake is made when starting your job with the venue or theme. This is important, of course, but before you start, it is really important to ask the question ‘why?’ Why are we doing this event? Why will people want to attend? Ask as many questions as you can and collate that information into something that you can refer back to. At the beginning of the process, you must fully understand what the intended outcome is – the why?
2. DEVELOP A STRATEGY
Now that you’ve got your ‘why’, you’ll need to shape it into a simple strategy that will allow you to build the event from the ground up. In a way, the strategy is the vision (or the end point) and it should map out a simple way of getting to your desired outcomes. Take your thinking, research and communication and put it into a one-page strategy. It will really help you to stay on track and communicate with your stakeholders clearly.
3. UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE
Do you really understand who your audience is? You might carefully consider what food to serve or what venue to use, but how often are you making decisions based on what youlike and not what your audience needs in order to meet the event’s objectives? It’s so important to really understand your audience. My favourite way to do this: imagine your audience is one person and write a one-page description about who they are. This might include facts like they’re female, 29 years old etc. But it can also include fun stuff like they love G&Ts or their favourite colour is green. The more you can describe them, the more you will understand them. Create an event that’s right for them.
4. BRING YOUR STAKEHOLDERS ALONG FOR THE RIDE
Collaboration is one of the cornerstones of delivering a successful event. Often, you’ll have multiple stakeholders that you need to consider and get on the same page as you. Your stakeholders might include organising committees, your boss, your client, suppliers, or even your own colleagues. It’s critical that they know what’s happening each step of the way so there are no surprises. For example, show them your strategy and get them to agree on it early in the piece. It will save you mountains of stress later on.
5.PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE
The secret to flawless execution is in the planning and preparation. If you can really think through the event in detail before you go on-site, you’ll be in a better position to manage the inevitable obstacles that you can’t prepare for. Painstakingly plan every detail so the unexpected becomes less of a burden. A good rule of thumb is: if for some reason, suddenly, you can’t be on-site, could someone step in, take your notes and run with it, without needing any handover? If you can say yes, then you’re ready to begin…
6. BE READY TO BEGIN Creating an experience or event can be hard. Long hours and pumping adrenaline are exhausting. No matter how busy you are in the lead up, make sure you are ready to begin. That means sleep well, stay hydrated and try to keep a clear head. No-one will benefit if you’re still writing nametags at 3:00 when bump-in is in 3 hours. Start the delivery of your event fresh.
7. ALLOW THE EVENT TO MANAGE ITSELF, SO YOU CAN MANAGE THE FIRES If you’re well prepared, management of the event will take care of itself. The only thing you should be doing on-site is putting out the fires that willspark. Live events are like live theatre or television; there will always be something that happens that you’re not expecting. That’s part of the thrill. It’s probably why you love your job in the first place. So don’t worry if things are going wrong. Just fix them and move on, ready for the next fire.
8. SAY THANK YOU I know this one sounds pretty obvious, but in the events industry, relationships are critical. A client of mine, who is the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company, personally thanks every crew member after each and every event. This assures him of loyalty and hard work on his projects. It’s also just good manners and, as we all know, good manners go a long way. So when it’s over, stop, smile, and thank everyone.
9. DEBRIEF, MEASURE, ANALYSE When the craziness is over, you might feel like breathing a sigh of relief and moving on to the next thing. But you’ll never get better unless you take a moment to discuss and analyse how you did. This is true for you as an individual and for the wider team involved. At Aesthetic, we survey everyone involved in an event, from client stakeholders to our suppliers. The information we gather from that exercise is invaluable. Your measurement should also link back to your strategy. Did you meet your objectives? As part of your strategy, what did success look like? Did you hit those benchmarks? Measuring your level of success is the only way to ensure that next time, you’ll do an even better job.
10. START THINKING ABOUT ‘WHAT’S NEXT?’ I like to think of these 10 steps as a circle. So really, number 10 takes us back to number 1 – ask lots and lots of questions. Take the information that you’ve learned and start to think of the next step in the journey towards meeting your overall objectives. It’s also a great way to get over the inescapable post-event blues.
Darren Natale’s unflinching passion has always been the creation of experiences for an audience – whether as an actor, theatre maker or creative director. This passion saw Darren embark on his first business venture in 2003. An entrepreneur at heart, he saw a gap in the marketplace for professional part-time actor training in Melbourne and created Verve Studios. And, in 2006, Aesthetic was born. With a delightfully niche combination of Law School and Drama School, Darren’s keen eye for strategic detail, combined with his essence of creativity, instilled in him the discipline, intuition and guts to create truly exceptional experiences for his clients. He has worked with some of Australia’s largest companies producing events, directing forums and training their people across presentation skills, media, team building, leadership and management. Darren now leads a team of dedicated creative professionals at Aesthetic with the same energy, passion and love for what he does that started his career more than 20 years ago.