How to Plan Your First Event

Although planning an event can be exciting, most first-time event planners feel enormous pressure to create the perfect event. You can make the process more rewarding by following some time-honored tips. Here are some of them:

Know Your Audience

The audience is the core of any event. An event will not be a success if it doesn’t truly connect with the audience, no matter how smoothly it goes or how stunning the visual effects are. Therefore, get to know your audience. Do some on-the-ground research to find out about their demographics, their histories, and what they are looking to get out of the event. Doing so will allow you to identify places where your goals and the audience’s goals don’t match up, and you can make adjustments accordingly.


Delegation is perhaps the most important skill to have when planning an event. Even if you would like to, it is impossible to do everything involved in planning an event on your own, and attempting to do so will result in both high stress and a mediocre event. Instead, assemble a skilled team, delegate, and work on the art of letting go of tight control.

Know the Importance of Contracts

Most events have multiple organizations and individuals involved, ranging from food vendors to guest speakers. When planning an event for the first time, many people fall into the trap of assuming that each party understands the other, and implicitly trusting the other party to do as expected. Unfortunately, even the most cordial of professional relationships can go sour, whether due to incompetence or miscommunication.

Contracts help ensure that both parties are on the same page, and that each party has legal recourse if the other does not fulfill its responsibilities. Be sure to get a clear contract with each party involved in the event, and make sure you understand and agree to all the terms of the contract.

Expect the Unexpected

Even with the most meticulous planning and a great team, the unexpected is inevitable at some point. An important speaker might cancel. The weather could be inclement. There is nothing you can do to control many of these issues, but, fortunately, most events are not ruined by small setbacks. Try to plan for potential issues, but remember that you can’t plan for everything.

Sometimes, what seems like a huge problem is actually quite manageable. Keeping things in perspective and keeping your cool are essential as unexpected issues arise. Take a solution-oriented approach to any problems that come up, and don’t be afraid to ask your team for ideas and assistance.

How did you tackle your first event? Share in the comments!

This post was originally published on the One Smooth Stone blog on June 30, 2015. For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing


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