Whether you’re planning a large-scale awards ceremony, a networking lunch for 30 (or 300), a showcase to market what you do or even a wedding…
You need to know about the 6 A’s of Event Planning.
Did you know… The Simplifiers started out as a full service event planning company? Before our CEO Mary began coaching other business owners around the world, she planned professional events for individuals and companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook. She’s even one of only 425 certified Special Events Professionals in the world!
This is one of the reasons why I wanted to join The Simplifiers team. I’d planned lots of events before – including a show with over 100 performers and 1400 attendees. BUT… I had never learned how to plan events professionally. I just figured it out as I’d gone along and I wanted real training with methods and processes and project planning skills.
Early on, Mary taught me the “6 A’s of Event Design” and now we’re sharing this framework with you.
Your event starts much earlier than you think. How are you inviting people and marketing your event? A Facebook event? Email? Paper invitation? A golden eagle flying in and dropping a scroll in their lap? Well, that last one might depend on your budget, health and safety regulations and animal wrangling skills…
You are setting the tone and people’s expectations with your invite and any information or interaction (or lack thereof!) that they have from you before they arrive.
Look at it from an attendee’s perspective. Does the invite give them all the information they need? Directions, parking, what to expect? Will it convince them to attend and get them excited to be there?
Don’t forget that it’s not a one-off invite. You might need to send reminder emails or share behind-the-scenes videos on social media to keep their interest piqued and make sure people show up.
What will be the first moment your attendees experience at your event? Again, this starts earlier than you might expect. If it’s a car parking lot and a long walk made worse when they get lost trying to find the right place – you’re going to be off to a bad start. Put some signage in place, have someone meeting and greeting, or choose a better venue in the first place!
When they walk through the door of your venue, what do you want them to feel? Welcome? Amazed? Surprised? Comfortable? Think about what you need to put in place to give them that experience.
When planning an event, many people forget to think about all five senses. So you might not need to think about smell in too much depth for a lot of events, but who knows, it might be very important.
Example: You’re running a supper club or an event with food tasting. You don’t want candles with overpowering scents. Imagine trying to eat your dinner in a LUSH store – it’s not going to feel good.
However, if you want people to be alert, you could include fresh scents, perhaps lemon. It can be subtle and still make a big difference.
What music or noises will there be? Are there loud building renovations happening outside your venue? What will the lighting be like? Will the seating be cozy sofas or formal tables and chairs?
Again, think about what you want your attendees to feel and do and think about how to create that reaction through the atmosphere you’ve designed and created for them.
Food and drink! It always go down well at an event and yet so many organizers fail to put much thought into this. Will your attendees expect free coffee and snacks? Are you offering a boring generic buffet because of budget constraints? What’s one thing you could do to jazz it up and stretch your budget?
One of the things I always notice is when I’m attending a workshop for a day and at lunch time they give us loads of bread and pastries. All those carbs make everyone sleepy in the afternoon – not good for concentration!
Don’t just offer tea, coffee and boring sandwiches because it’s what everyone else does. Make sure you think intelligently about this element of your event and I guarantee attendees will appreciate the thoughtfulness you put in to this detail.
What would you like your guests to do at the event? You might think this is obvious but again, people often fail to put thought into this important element of their event.
For example, networking events often fail at this. Organizers think people showing up and trying to make conversation with strangers is enough. But what about introducing something different? Low pressure, non-cheesy ice breakers? Or strategically placed stations around the room that are talking points and encourage conversation.
This is all about what the guests take away with them. Perhaps it’s a workbook, a wedding favor, or a sample of your product… It all depends on your event, what you’re trying to achieve and knowing what will make an impact on attendees.
I once attended a workshop where I had to write a letter to my future self. The organizers took it, paid for postage and it was delivered to me 6 months later. I loved that touch!
Avoid simply sticking your brand’s logo on cheap, plastic tack – I love a freebie but people are more eco-conscious than ever these days (and rightfully, they should be!) So, be mindful of the promotional items you are giving away. Less stuff in the landfills, more things that have a purpose, are clever and memorable.
Use the 6 A’s as a framework to help design your event and you’ll start thinking like a professional Event Planner and Designer.
Resources we recommend:
- ILEA – the International Live Events Association – get connected with 5000+ events professionals in 53 chapters across the world
- SEPA – the Student Event Planners Association – find bright, talented young event professionals who are bridging the gap between students, professionals, and businesses in the events industry.
- This episode of The Simplifiers podcast featuring Ryan Hanson, CSEP – sharing simple, practical tips on designing and producing large-scale live events:
RESERVE YOUR SPOT in the FREE 5-day #DoTheThing Challenge, which starts on Mon Oct 01, 2018 – specifically for business owners in creative industries, including event planners, graphic designers, photographers and marketers. CLICK HERE to reserve your spot!