Project management

Event checklist: How to organise and stage a special event

- September 16, 2022 4 MIN READ
Large group of people at indoor networking event

Hosting a special event is a great PR exercise for small businesses and can raise your brand profile and increase awareness – if you get it right! Use this handy checklist to make it an event to remember – for all the right reasons.

Special events come under the umbrella of public relations and are a great way to promote your business. If you have event management plans for your own special event, you are in a good position to make the most of the PR opportunity it presents.

Media coverage of your special event will raise the profile of your brand and increase awareness of your products or services. An event is also a great way to get clients, prospects and influencers together to help spread the word about you and your business.

Below are some event management tips for a well-staged event. I’ve focused on what’s required for larger events, but the advice can be scaled down to smaller affairs. Whether you’re planning a networking event, a media conference, seminar or workshop, fashion parade, open day, product launch or even a cocktail party, it will help to keep the following in mind.

Young woman setting tables for event in marquee

Planning your event

Paying attention to every detail creates a professional image for your business. Begin with the basics, by:

  1. Developing your message and branding.
  2. Choosing the venue or site.
  3. Setting the date, start and finish times.

If you’re planning a large event, you should also:

  • If it is a community event, organise the legalities – check council permits, contracts, letters of agreement and insurance.
  • Set budgets, organise sponsors, suppliers and venue facilities.
  • Plan entertainment and accommodation.
  • Arrange food and catering, kitchen and bar facilities, hospitality, dressing rooms, hair and make up, media area, alcohol and beverages, and any licenses needed.
  • Set up money collection and float.
  • Have table settings or seating arrangements in place.
  • Consider merchandise and souvenirs.
  • Arrange signage, including t-shirts or uniforms.

Equipment for your event

The following should be on your equipment checklist, but this is by no means exhaustive. You will likely discover a few extra equipment specifics needed for your event as you consider these basics:

  • Staging – design and decoration.
  • Power, audiovisual, lighting, video or PowerPoint presentation screen, speakers. Entertainers and speakers may also have specific equipment needs, so be sure to discuss this with them individually ahead of time.
  • Marquees, tents or stalls, toilets, waste bins and water.
  • Administration, information and lost children area.
  • Ambulance or first aid, security, crowd control.
  • Contingency plan for wet weather and crisis management plan. Include a manual and run sheets for all personnel.
  • Event tool kit – consider things like blue tac for posters, blank name tags, first aid kit, torch and gaffa tape.

Video cameras at business event

Promotion and communication

Before, during and after your event, you’ll need a promotional and communications plan in place.

Firstly, confirm – and re-confirm – all details. The last thing you want is a mass send-out of the wrong information! Consider utilising the services of a proofreader before releasing your promotional materials, to ensure your communications are error-free.

  • Organise media releases and photographic or promotional images for press usage on television, in print, and on the internet and social media.
  • Get letterhead, promotional materials and invitations printed, newsletters and emails issued, and physical mailbox drops organised. Ensure flyers, posters and programs include telephone numbers and website addresses.
  • Consider approaching local radio stations, who are often keen to broadcast live from locally-run public events. For free public events, this collaboration can evolve into no-cost local radio advertising of your event – a bonus, right?
  • Have a photographer and/or video producer at your event.
  • Have an event manual with contact numbers of organisers, staff, suppliers and entertainers.
  • Carry walkie-talkies or mobile phones for instant communication.
  • Have research and evaluation strategies in place.

Venue logistics

Give detailed instructions to your guests on how to get to the venue, including public transport and parking options.

Be aware of:

  • emergency exits
  • disabled access
  • location for unloading of equipment and equipment storage areas
  • ticketing and queuing
  • registration and name tags
  • event site map

Post-event wrap up

  • Pack up equipment and organise staff to ‘bump out’.
  • Have a clean up plan in place.
  • Arrange collection of equipment.
  • Analyse, research and assess budgets.
  • Have a debrief to know what worked and what didn’t for next time.
  • Send thank you notes.

Good event management can create ‘buzz’ and goodwill for your business, product or service, and perhaps result in extra sales and profits. Especially when you plan well and make it an event your guests remember.

Read more about creating and managing events:

This article was published in 2007 and has been updated for 2022.

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