Experiential events have become the gold standard in marketing and event planning. If you haven’t organized one before, it may seem like an impossible and daunting feat. At its core, though, the concept of an experiential event is simple. Rather than guests attending as observers, an experiential event gives them a chance to be participants. What they get to do, what they experience (hence the name) is up to you. There are innumerable ways to incorporate experiences into any event and there’s no question that it’s worth the effort.
Attendees will identify with and remember an experiential event, and can learn so much more from doing than from just seeing or hearing. It seems pretty obvious that experience is a component that adds value to any event, so the question just becomes: How? How do you incorporate experience in a way that makes sense, is unique, memorable, and is manageable from a financial and logistical standpoint? Let’s get into it.

We’ve seen experiential events become popular in a variety of ways. The advantage for brand activations and product launches is clear: when customers and stakeholders can touch, feel, or taste a product, they’re much more likely to remember it and build excitement in their community. Having heard there is a new brand of energy bar is not interesting; being invited to try one while meeting a well known athlete or running an obstacle course is definitely interesting. But even less obvious formats can benefit from experiential components. At an innovation summit or collaboration event, participant’s involvement will increase along with the numbers of ways they’ve invited to learn. Paper and pen is fine; an LED idea wall anyone can add to in real time is even better. Even if your event is straightforwardly designed to train or educate, experience has a place. We all remember the teachers who made school fun, who got us out of our chairs and even out of the classroom to give us a new way of learning. We don’t lose that love for something different once we grow up. People crave something new, something they haven’t seen before.

Are you convinced that experiential events is where it’s at? Great! Getting started can still be overwhelming though. To get the creative process going, let’s take a look at some unique experiential events from the past few years, and how their successes can inform yours.

Photo by Adam Groffman, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED, https://www.flickr.com/photos/agroffman/43960413674/

Event: Refinery 29: 29Rooms

What was great: The lifestyle brand created 29 physical rooms for attendees to walk through. They worked with brand partners to create each room, and every year they’re interactive in a different way. One event had unique ways for participants to create art with what they found in the rooms.
The takeaway: Keep people moving and actively participating. Utilize the power of partnerships to expand your creative reach and bring in fresh ideas.

Event: M&M Flavor Rooms

What was great: M&M created a pop-up in New York to determine its newest flavor. The immersive rooms were themed down to fragrances and décor. There were even M&M themed cocktails.
The takeaway: Never miss an opportunity to engage senses other than sight and sound.
Learn more here: https://www.brit.co/mms-flavor-vote/


Photo by Warren R.M. Stuart, CC BY 2.0 DEED, https://www.flickr.com/photos/wza/22048606049

Event: Vans: House of Vans

What was great: The popular shoe line created pop-ups where it knew it had fans- skate parks. Promoting their new shoe line while giving skaters a place to hang out and listen to music in their favorite skating location was a great fit.
The takeaway: Know your target audience and be willing to go where they are.

Photo by Whelsko, CC BY 2.0 DEED,  www.flickr.com/photos/whelsko/

Event: Fortnite Concert

What was great: Fortnite used 2020’s necessitated shift to an online world to create a one-of-a-kind experience. Rapper Travis Scott used his avatar to perform a virtual concert called “Astronomical” that was attended live by 12 million people and has been viewed over 200 million times on YouTube.
The takeaway: Virtual events have the potential to be just as powerful as those that are in person, and their reach can be far greater.

Event: KIND’s Secret Farmer’s Market

What was great: KIND turned one of their snack bars’ vending machines into a hidden doorway to a secret farmer’s market. The fresh food that participants encountered promoted KIND’s commitment to distributing healthy foods and was all available- for free. Social media promotions brought thousands of people to the experience.

The takeaway: People love a surprise. They also really love secret doors and hidden spaces. Giveaways don’t always have to be the product you’re selling.

Learn more here: https://www.trendhunter.com/trends/new-secret-kind-farmers-market

Photo by: Mark Lopez, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED, https://www.flickr.com/photos/argonne/24965532904

Event: Chicago Children’s Museum- New Art Studio

What was great: In 2022, the museum opened an art studio that is immersive and ever-evolving. The scenery pulls young artists in, and ample art supplies and activities give them an opportunity to respond to what they’ve seen. The space incorporates the work children produce into its displays and design.
The takeaway: Let participants leave their mark on an event or location so they can feel connected to it.

Event: Iowa Finance Authority: 2022 HousingIowa Conference

What was great: A housing conference was turned into a Main Street parade where “Housing Leads the Way”. The theme brought new energy to the event as well as its website, materials, and promotions.
The takeaway: Any event can be innovative with the right reimagining. A great theme can change the game.
Learn more here: https://web.cvent.com/event/cc4607b0-7303-4d86-b65e-f772a5708fac/summary

Event: NBCUniversal Quantum Leap Reboot Launch

What was great: To promote the reboot of a popular show with a time travel theme, people were invited to drive through the “Quantum Leap Accelerator” straight into a scene from the past. Best of all, they were given a pass to fill their tanks at a gas station with 1980s-costing 91 cents per gallon gas.
The takeaway: Nostalgia is powerful and fun- especially when people get the chance to buy something at good-old-days prices.
Learn more here: https://www.bizbash.com/production-strategy/experiential-marketing-activations-sponsorships/media-gallery/22445487/why-nbc-rolled-back-gas-prices-like-its-1985

Event: Espolon Cristalino Launch Party

What was great: To launch a new tequila, Espolon took guests to stunning Mexican caves- in New York. Projection mapping transported everyone to tropical wonderlands without stepping foot outside of the city.
The takeaway: Technology is your friend. Projection mapping can literally immerse your guests anywhere you want them to be.
Learn more here: https://www.eventmarketer.com/article/espolon-tequila-launch-cristalino-urban-cenote/

Event: Delta Airlines Parallel Reality Experience

What was great: Delta created a glimpse of what’s possible for travelers at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Partnering with design and tech companies, they presented customers with an eye-catching entrance to an experience that used kiosks and scanners to present them with a streamlined, personalized way to view their travel information.
The takeaway: Every part of an experience, even check in, is an opportunity to do something exciting and new.
Learn more here: https://news.delta.com/mediakit/parallel-realitytm-experience

Event: Liquid IV Fuel Your Play Event

What was great: For its first national brand campaign, Liquid IV went on the road and created a play station complete with games and a camper van serving its products at an Atlanta market, while also dropping off samples throughout the city.
The takeaway: Expanding your brand can be done in a fun way by introducing your products to a new market in a casual setting.

Event: TikTok Summer Party

What was great: When employees returned to in-office work, TikTok hosted a huge party to welcome them back. Everything from the snacks to the photo ops were branded, and the company provided a skincare bar, games, and a 360 photo booth for employees to enjoy.

The takeaway: Sometimes employees or stakeholders deserve a treat, and it can be more memorable and exciting than a pen set or a catered lunch.

Event: Cap’n Crunch Cap’n’s Commute

What was great: Cap’n Crunch turned a New York City ferry into a cereal-themed vessel with prizes, games, and (of course) snacks, and thereby turned passengers’ commute into a delicious experience.

The takeaway: Instead of bringing people to your event, you can take the event to them. Also- don’t be afraid of multiple apostrophes in a title. If it worked for the Cap’n it can work for you.

Learn more here: https://www.tiktok.com/@alexdwong/video/7130415284330220846?lang=en

Event: March of Dimes Imagines

What was great: March of Dimes wanted to remind the world of its mission and refresh its brand. A huge dome was filled with whimsical design, imagery, and activities that engaged attendees while educating them on MoD’s mission to ensure healthy starts for all infants.
The takeaway: Nonprofits can benefit from the excitement and buzz surrounding experiential events just as much as for-profit brands.
Learn more here: https://www.eventmarketer.com/article/march-of-dimes-first-experiential-activation-80th-anniversary/

Event: Cheetos at SXSW

What was great: Everyone knows that to eat Cheetos is to have orange dust-covered fingers. Rather than consider it a drawback, Cheetos leans in. The company created a Hands-Free House at the iconic South By Southwest music festival to show how tech has evolved to create a variety of hands free experiences, leaving us free to use our fingers to grab their tasty snack.
The takeaway: Use what’s unique about your company or brand to give people a great memory- even if it’s well outside of the box you normally operate in.

It may seem like these events have little to nothing in common, and it’s true that they illustrate the wide-open range of options that exist within experiential event planning. But all of them were successful because they took the same things into consideration:
–       Understand your audience.

Good event planners know who will be attending, what motivates them, and what has to happen for them to consider their time at the event worthwhile.
–       Set clear objectives.

What is the goal of the experience? Will people learn more about something? Become personally invested? Or just have a great time?
–       Prioritize engagement and interaction.

It can be easy to fall into the rhythm of planning for efficiency- achieving as much as possible as quicky as possible. However, that is often in direct conflict with allowing the time required for people to connect with what’s happening and each other. Don’t be afraid to spend some time to let people have the experience you want them to have.
–       Innovate and think creatively.

Many of the events listed involved locations or activities well outside of their normal scope. A video game hosting a concert, a cereal brand running a ferry, a snack company building a tech house- these ideas worked because they were unexpected.
–       Use technology to enhance the attendee experience.

It’s virtually unheard of to attend an event now without there being a tech component. The most successful experiential events, though, are constantly looking for ways to incorporate the newest and most exciting technology in ways that participants haven’t seen before.

It’s clear that experiential events are working consistently as a way to engage attendees and create a memorable experience. Hopefully these examples show there’s no one right way to be successful in this arena, and there’s always room for something new. Let these examples jump start your thought process and start planning!

In the world of event planning and execution, the role of a production partner is one of the keys to a stellar event. The success of an event often hinges on the seamless performance of technical elements, smooth presentations, and the overall enhancement of audience experience. In this case, we were our own client! We know that sounds a bit silly. Nevertheless, we’re taking a deep dive into the contributions made by our production team, in hopes of inspiring you and your production team on what it takes to ensure the success of a nationwide, live webinar.

Challenges Faced

avad3, as a sponsor of the event, sought to host a live webinar with nationwide reach. With an hour-long slot dedicated to presenting, the we faced the challenge of avoiding technical glitches that could impede the flow and impact of the webinar.

Our Team’s Support

•Ensuring smooth technical execution across various video conferencing platforms.
•Adapting to a new video platform with limited bandwidth without compromising production value.
•Implementing last-minute changes to enhance visual aesthetics.

Actions Taken by Production Partner

The production team assumed responsibility for all technical aspects, alleviating all of the client’s concerns. Their extensive experience across multiple platforms and thorough testing processes instilled confidence in the client, assuring them of a glitch-free webinar experience.

Enhancing Production Value

Despite the challenges posed by a new video platform with limited bandwidth, the production team leveraged their expertise to deliver a high-quality production. The hosts and moderators commended the event for its exceptional production value, setting a new standard for webinars they have historically hosted.

Debut of an Innovative Resource

The webinar served as a platform to debut a beta test of a venue scorecard exclusively for attendees. The positive feedback received underscored the effectiveness and value of the resource, enhancing the event’s relevance and lasting impact. A couple of comments we received included:
“More, more, more!! It’s great to hear about and SEE real-world examples. I’m sure the presenters could have shared 1000 more — looking forward to learning more next time!”
“Casual, conversational and informative. Great – thank you!”

What is Your Production Team Doing for You?

The collaboration between the client and the production partner exemplifies the critical role played by production teams in elevating the success of events. By providing technical expertise, enhancing production value, and demonstrating flexibility, the production team ensured a seamless and impactful webinar experience. This highlights the importance of strategic partnerships in achieving event objectives and delivering value to your attendees.

Event planners invest months in meticulous planning. But on the day of the event, effectively communicating those plans becomes crucial. How can you relay essential details in a concise and clear manner?

Enter the show flow – an efficient alternative to lengthy event scripts. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of show flows and how they can optimize communication and streamline your event’s execution.

The show flow document is displayed on a computer screen in front of a tech. The tech is onsite at an event setup in a dark, blue-lit room.

Understanding Scripts vs. Show Flows

Scripts tend to be extensive, often spanning 20-25 pages, containing a wealth of information, such as opening remarks, cues for house lights, video playback, and speaker introductions. In contrast, show flows offer a simplified, one-page overview of the event. Despite their brevity, show flows can effectively convey most of the event plan, ensuring smooth operations. Creating a concise and clear event show flow template is essential for seamless event execution.

Show Flow Table Example
(Example from 2/4/2020)

Adapting Detail Levels for Different Teams

While your venue staff needs to know when a session starts to replenish refreshments, they don’t require every word of the script. Detailed scripts are valuable for on-stage presenters, but distributing such information to every event team member can be overwhelming. Show flows strike the right balance, providing essential information without overwhelming non-essential team members.


Accommodating Changes with Ease

Every seasoned event planner knows that adaptability is key. Unexpected changes are inevitable. For instance, a presenter may request an additional 5 minutes during the opening session. If all event timing is embedded within a 20-25 page document, manually updating each timing cue can be time-consuming. However, with a one-page show flow built in a spreadsheet using formulas, adjusting one duration automatically updates all related times.

Similarly, presenter talking points often undergo revisions. If their remarks are part of the primary document, updating the entire script becomes a hassle with each tweak. To avoid this, separate presenter remarks into individual documents. Let’s say your show flow contains a 20-minute segment labeled, “Year in Review with Brett.” By separating the script from the actual show flow, Brett is free to revise his content at his leisure without disrupting the overall show flow.

Crafting Your Show Flow

Show flows can encompass multiple columns and rows, but don’t feel overwhelmed. This planning process offers clarity and doesn’t have to be time-consuming. By breaking it down column by column, starting with segment names, you can see how each component fits into the larger event picture. A basic show flow may include the following columns:

Show Flow Table Example

Columns:

1. Line number
2. Time of day
3. Duration in minutes
4. Segment name
5. Presenter name
6. Support materials (stage/furniture preferences, visual aids)
7. Content
8. Production
9. Notes

Ensure that your show flow fits on a single page. If your event spans multiple sessions or days, create a separate one-page show flow for each. For example, if you have a Morning Opening Session lasting 2 hours, create a dedicated show flow for that session. Restrict each show flow to a maximum of 30 rows; anything longer may include unnecessary details.

Tips for Optimal Show Flow Management

1. Ownership: As the event planner, you should be the document’s owner. Take charge of writing and maintaining the show flow, serving as the steward of both the event and its execution.

2. Revisions: Regularly revise the show flow leading up to the event, creating PDFs with version numbers (e.g., “01 Morning Show Flow v4”). Use double digits for sorting chronologically, ensuring files are organized correctly. To allow seamless collaboration, we also recommend keeping a copy version of this on google sheets. This will allow anyone with a google account to suggest changes in real time.

Show Flow Segment Examples

Let’s consider two examples of event segments within a show flow:

Example One: Presenter Segment

Show Flow Table Example

11. 8:38 am. 10 mins. Year in Review. Brett

During our morning session, Brett takes the stage at precisely 8:38 am. Our show flow, built in a spreadsheet with handy formulas, ensures smooth transitions. If the preceding segment requires more or less time, adjusting its duration automatically updates Brett’s start time. This efficient system eliminates the need for tedious retyping in a text document.

Brett’s presentation focuses on reviewing last year’s performance and expressing gratitude to the product team for their commitment to quality. To enhance his talk, he will utilize props on stage, including slides and two silent videos. These videos, known as MOS, will play in the background, serving as visual aids while Brett speaks over them. We can maintain the house lights without dimming them, thanks to this setup. Additionally, considering Brett’s extended 10-minute duration on stage, we recommend providing him with a lavalier microphone, ensuring his comfort and ease of movement. Lastly, it’s crucial to inform Brett about his responsibility to smoothly transition to John, who follows his presentation. By sharing this information, we prevent any awkward moments on stage and guarantee a seamless handover.

Example Two: Energizing Sizzle Video

Show Flow Table Example

19. 9:59 am. 3 mins. Video will play; Highlight Sizzle.

The 19th line in our show flow is scheduled for 9:55 am. At this time, a captivating 3-minute video titled “Highlight Sizzle” will engage the audience. To set the stage, the podium used in the previous segment will be swiftly removed by the stage manager and crew, preparing for the next presenter. The video itself exudes high energy, so we have instructed the audio technician to ensure a strong audio output. To enhance the video’s impact, the lighting director will darken the stage while dipping the house lights, creating a more dramatic atmosphere.

Additionally, we’ve requested a switch in the DSMs (downstage monitors) to display this video instead of the regular slides, allowing Jane, the next presenter, to seamlessly transition onto the stage during the video. As Jane won’t have a clear view of the projector screens on stage, the video displaying on the DSMs will help her feel confident in timing her entrance perfectly.

Experience the Benefits of Show Flows

Show flows are powerful tools that effectively communicate essential details to the right people. By separating presenter remarks from this document, you empower presenters to take ownership of their content. This enables you to focus on the session as a whole, saving you valuable time by eliminating the need to repeatedly revise lengthy text documents.

Embrace the convenience of formulas, and give the new format a try when planning your company’s next significant event. You’ll discover that it promotes clearer thinking during the planning phase and translates into smoother transitions with your production crew. Moreover, your presenters will exude confidence, and the overall event plan will be easily accessible without the burden of sifting through lengthy script copies. Enjoy the difference it makes!


Event planners invest months in meticulous planning. But on the day of the event, effectively communicating those plans becomes crucial. How can you relay essential details in a concise and clear manner?

Enter the show flow – an efficient alternative to lengthy event scripts. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of show flows and how they can optimize communication and streamline your event’s execution.

The show flow document is displayed on a computer screen in front of a tech. The tech is onsite at an event setup in a dark, blue-lit room.

Understanding Scripts vs. Show Flows

Scripts tend to be extensive, often spanning 20-25 pages, containing a wealth of information, such as opening remarks, cues for house lights, video playback, and speaker introductions. In contrast, show flows offer a simplified, one-page overview of the event. Despite their brevity, show flows can effectively convey most of the event plan, ensuring smooth operations. Creating a concise and clear event show flow template is essential for seamless event execution.

Show Flow Table Example
(Example from 2/4/2020)

Adapting Detail Levels for Different Teams

While your venue staff needs to know when a session starts to replenish refreshments, they don’t require every word of the script. Detailed scripts are valuable for on-stage presenters, but distributing such information to every event team member can be overwhelming. Show flows strike the right balance, providing essential information without overwhelming non-essential team members.


Accommodating Changes with Ease

Every seasoned event planner knows that adaptability is key. Unexpected changes are inevitable. For instance, a presenter may request an additional 5 minutes during the opening session. If all event timing is embedded within a 20-25 page document, manually updating each timing cue can be time-consuming. However, with a one-page show flow built in a spreadsheet using formulas, adjusting one duration automatically updates all related times.

Similarly, presenter talking points often undergo revisions. If their remarks are part of the primary document, updating the entire script becomes a hassle with each tweak. To avoid this, separate presenter remarks into individual documents. Let’s say your show flow contains a 20-minute segment labeled, “Year in Review with Brett.” By separating the script from the actual show flow, Brett is free to revise his content at his leisure without disrupting the overall show flow.

Crafting Your Show Flow

Show flows can encompass multiple columns and rows, but don’t feel overwhelmed. This planning process offers clarity and doesn’t have to be time-consuming. By breaking it down column by column, starting with segment names, you can see how each component fits into the larger event picture. A basic show flow may include the following columns:

Show Flow Table Example

Columns:

1. Line number
2. Time of day
3. Duration in minutes
4. Segment name
5. Presenter name
6. Support materials (stage/furniture preferences, visual aids)
7. Content
8. Production
9. Notes

Ensure that your show flow fits on a single page. If your event spans multiple sessions or days, create a separate one-page show flow for each. For example, if you have a Morning Opening Session lasting 2 hours, create a dedicated show flow for that session. Restrict each show flow to a maximum of 30 rows; anything longer may include unnecessary details.

A production manager and tech discuss event details in a bright blue-lit room. The show flow document sits in front of them on a computer screen.

Tips for Optimal Show Flow Management

1. Ownership: As the event planner, you should be the document’s owner. Take charge of writing and maintaining the show flow, serving as the steward of both the event and its execution.

2. Revisions: Regularly revise the show flow leading up to the event, creating PDFs with version numbers (e.g., “01 Morning Show Flow v4”). Use double digits for sorting chronologically, ensuring files are organized correctly. To allow seamless collaboration, we also recommend keeping a copy version of this on google sheets. This will allow anyone with a google account to suggest changes in real time.

Show Flow Segment Examples

Let’s consider two examples of event segments within a show flow:

Example One: Presenter Segment

Show Flow Table Example

11. 8:38 am. 10 mins. Year in Review. Brett

During our morning session, Brett takes the stage at precisely 8:38 am. Our show flow, built in a spreadsheet with handy formulas, ensures smooth transitions. If the preceding segment requires more or less time, adjusting its duration automatically updates Brett’s start time. This efficient system eliminates the need for tedious retyping in a text document.

Brett’s presentation focuses on reviewing last year’s performance and expressing gratitude to the product team for their commitment to quality. To enhance his talk, he will utilize props on stage, including slides and two silent videos. These videos, known as MOS, will play in the background, serving as visual aids while Brett speaks over them. We can maintain the house lights without dimming them, thanks to this setup. Additionally, considering Brett’s extended 10-minute duration on stage, we recommend providing him with a lavalier microphone, ensuring his comfort and ease of movement. Lastly, it’s crucial to inform Brett about his responsibility to smoothly transition to John, who follows his presentation. By sharing this information, we prevent any awkward moments on stage and guarantee a seamless handover.

Example Two: Energizing Sizzle Video

Show Flow Table Example

19. 9:59 am. 3 mins. Video will play; Highlight Sizzle.

The 19th line in our show flow is scheduled for 9:55 am. At this time, a captivating 3-minute video titled “Highlight Sizzle” will engage the audience. To set the stage, the podium used in the previous segment will be swiftly removed by the stage manager and crew, preparing for the next presenter. The video itself exudes high energy, so we have instructed the audio technician to ensure a strong audio output. To enhance the video’s impact, the lighting director will darken the stage while dipping the house lights, creating a more dramatic atmosphere.

Additionally, we’ve requested a switch in the DSMs (downstage monitors) to display this video instead of the regular slides, allowing Jane, the next presenter, to seamlessly transition onto the stage during the video. As Jane won’t have a clear view of the projector screens on stage, the video displaying on the DSMs will help her feel confident in timing her entrance perfectly.

A production manager discusses a room layout during setup for an event with a client. The room is brightly lit with blue, purple, and daylight lights.

Experience the Benefits of Show Flows

Show flows are powerful tools that effectively communicate essential details to the right people. By separating presenter remarks from this document, you empower presenters to take ownership of their content. This enables you to focus on the session as a whole, saving you valuable time by eliminating the need to repeatedly revise lengthy text documents.

Embrace the convenience of formulas, and give the new format a try when planning your company’s next significant event. You’ll discover that it promotes clearer thinking during the planning phase and translates into smoother transitions with your production crew. Moreover, your presenters will exude confidence, and the overall event plan will be easily accessible without the burden of sifting through lengthy script copies. Enjoy the difference it makes!


For years, planning timelines for annual events were 364 days long. As soon as this year’s event ended, the event planner could let everyone begin working on next year’s event.

Corporate event planning has changed. Timelines have been sliced by 1/3rd. Decision-makers make decisions later and later. How do you stay calm when you have 1/3rd of the time? What about 1/3 of the necessary budget with 3x the work in detail changes or additions?

By the end of this article, you will have a better idea of the details you need to execute and the distractions you need to avoid. Let’s discuss how you can get 3x the work done in 1/3rd the time.

Stuck With a Short Event Planning Timeline? Here’s What To Do

If you’re reading this in the heat of a compressed timeline, immediately begin fleshing out your checklist using the guidance below.

First things first…

The best way to tackle a giant problem is to take it one detail at a time, starting with the highest priority items. For events, here are the details to get figured out the right way:

  1. When and where is the event (get exact times and addresses)?
  2. What is your budget? (Your production provider should be able to explain how you can best utilize every budget dollar.)
  3. Who is available (on your team, production-tech partners, venues, caterers, etc.)?

Now that your biggest details are figured out let’s work our way down to the checklist. When it comes to events, the next most important details are:

  1. How many attendees will be there? (Not sure? Put a rough estimate.)
  2. Will the event be in-person, virtual event, or hybrid event?
  3. Will the venue be outdoor or indoor?

Now that the broad details are noted, it is time to assemble a team. Decisions can’t be made without decision-makers. When your planning timeline gets compressed, you need power in numbers. The most efficient task force will consist of:

  • Decision makers from your organization. When working on a short planning timeline, it saves time to have decision-makers directly involved.
  • A quality production provider. The technical details of your event (audio, video, and lighting) are the most complex and time intensive, so let the experts take care of this. Since events are their expertise, a quality production provider can help with much more than the nerdy stuff. This is one of the most valuable details to get right when planning.
  • Other event planners. Someone has dealt with your situation before, so let them walk you through it and give advice. This will cut back on dead ends and save time.

Now that your high-level details are decided and your task force is assembled, you probably feel a lot less stress., But we are not at the finish line yet. Now let’s take care of the fine details.

Don’t Forget About These Two Important Details.

  1. Get on people’s calendars. What’s the first thing you ask when someone inquires about you planning an event for them? What’s the date? The best professionals in the world can’t help you if they’re unavailable. Get on people’s calendars early and often. Don’t allow yourself to spiral out of control with every meeting becoming a fire drill. Set an early, middle, and late overall meeting during your three days, three weeks, or three months of planning. Get that on their calendars. Establish now that you need to place holds on presenter calendars for the day before dress rehearsal, the week before offline rehearsal, or the month before content reviews. Don’t be caught by surprise when you get declines the day before if you haven’t sent calendar invite planner requests further than the week before.
  2. Communicate to your audience ahead of time. How will they know if someone doesn’t tell them? Don’t make the mistake of doing all this work behind the scenes only to realize that attendees have been left in the dark. Make sure you are communicating with your internal leadership stakeholders and external vendors, but most importantly, with the audience you’re doing all of this work for in the first place. Do they know what to expect? Are you inspiring them by getting their wheels turning and thinking about the biggest day of the year?

Recognize Which Elements of Event Planning You Can Not Control

Plan B Versus “Let It Go”

Some variables are just out of your control. These things need to be listed, thought over, and then ultimately decided on whether to make a Plan B or just let go. Don’t be blindsided when these things pop up halfway through your tight timeline. Give them thought early on and either have alternatives or let them roll off your back. For example, what if a presenter gets sick? Audiences and vendors can get sick, but with presenters, the show must go on. So, decide early which presenters you need a Plan B substitute alternative for to still cover the content and which presenters can’t be replaced. So you know which ones you’d just have to let it go for.

Plan for Snowplows

What could snowplow your entire planning timeline? “Snowplow” means push, postpone, or delay, causing things to pile up.

For example, you may have your creative team draft an event logo and send it to your leader’s desk. If they don’t respond within 24hrs, every step downstream (RSVP design, print, on-screen graphics) begins to pile up. Your vendors who had 72hrs to turn around their iterations of that logo now have 48hrs. Plan for these snowplows and set expectations with the highest urgency only where needed, or risk being the boy who cried wolf. Build trust with your leadership that you need certain things quickly. Otherwise, the snowplow alternative comes into play.

Watch for Wrecking Balls

Snowplows you can plan for, wrecking balls you cannot. You can’t have a plan for everything, but you need to keep an eye out. If you’re planning an in-person event and some national news shifts travelers’ ability to come and go, that’s a wrecking ball. Moments like these are when Hybrid Events are the best. Being able to flip between 90% in-person and 10% online to vice versa is really helpful for wrecking ball situations. The same goes for date changes and postponing. It’s much simpler to adjust travel coordination for a small group of in-person live studio audience members than for the entire meeting’s attendance registration list to get rebooked on flights.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Speaking of letting go, you aren’t going to be able to hold onto everything. It’s not practical or healthy, and your people need you healthy for the big day. You might have to let go of some details, like the exact color of the balloons or the font of the invite. Otherwise, you risk taking your eye off the prize. Keep your eyes on the overall goal, a great event for attendees and/or vendors/sponsors.

You have to define and get alignment from leadership on what the prize is, and in some cases, that might mean exact colors or serifs. But in most cases, the main thing is keeping “the main thing” the main thing.

Planning Ahead is the Key to Staying Calm

The event industry is full of incredible stories of crews overcoming the unfathomable in the name of “the show must go on.” In our industry, there is a universal appreciation for those who can stay calm under pressure. Hopefully, these concepts have inspired you to remain calm and use checklists to plan more efficiently. When time is ticking, nothing can be done to gain more of it, but strategizing and taking action on checklist items can help bring peace to your future self. Don’t wait until tomorrow to do what could be done today.

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