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Corporate event planning using the 5 W’s

Many organizations plan events annually or for special occasions, such as anniversaries or holidays. These events can be very successful or they can be a failure when it comes to meeting the goal of holding the event. The success of the event can often be determined by proper planning and decision making. To aid in the success of future events, here are five questions to consider when planning an event.

  1. Why should an event be held?? This question helps determine goals, possible outcomes, and establish an overall theme for the event. Once the purpose of the event is established, a budget to pay for the event should be determined and travel costs should also be considered. Knowing the budget and goals of the event before proceeding with planning will help keep the event within the desired scope. Never lose sight of the objective of the event, even if the budget does not allow everything, there may be acceptable alternatives, so brainstorm along the way to meet all the requirements of the event.
  2. What should happen at the event? Asking this question and brainstorming the answers is the first step in creating an agenda for activity days. The next step would be to develop a project plan for the event assignments that includes pre and post tasks as well as actions in the event. Will there be speakers, announcements, videos, presentations, exhibits, meals, breaks, recognition or award ceremonies, team building, fun interactive activities, training sessions, or discussions? Determine if any particular equipment may be needed for the room setup to facilitate parts of the event. Decide what types of print materials may need to be available for the event, and then start gathering them and organizing the appropriate copies and communications.
  3. Who should be invited to the event? Is it for a particular department, a group of executives, one or more work teams, people who have achieved something, or the entire company? Would this event be something to consider inviting key or potential customers and suppliers? Consider whether a keynote speaker or other special speakers should be a part of the event. Also if people with special skills such as event planners, coordinators, moderators or facilitators are needed for the success of the event or if this can be done in-house. If someone with a speaker or special skills is needed, determine how they are arranged and how this might affect the budget. Also decide what communications should be sent to attendees and those working on the event, as well as what follow-up is required and when the deadlines should be.
  4. When would be the best date(s) and time(s) to hold the event? Determine the length of time required to accomplish the goals of the event, and then select three preferred date options to enable a location to be found. The event can be a half day, full day, or multiple days. Planning ahead makes it more likely that you will get the perfect event location during your preferred time frame. As soon as the date is set, start sending out communications to potential attendees so they can put it on their calendar. Then continue to send monthly reminders with new information about the event to keep them interested in attending. Be sure to send a final date/time/location reminder two to five business days before the event.
  5. Where will the event take place? After events and attendance are determined, a location can be selected that meets all needs plus catering options. Consider whether the event should be held in the local area if it is for a short period of time and where most of the attendees are located. Be sure to consider travel requirements and communicate any special directions to the location for locals and others outside the area. If the event is multi-day and the selected location is outside of the work area, after-hours activities or entertainment may also need to be considered. Before selecting a location, also determine if some activities will be outdoors or if everything will be indoors.

For a successful organizational event, whether it’s for a special occasion or an annual event, start with the five questions above when planning. These questions and the associated planning should increase the chances of an event successfully meeting the organization’s goal rather than being a failure where people after the event didn’t know why they spent their valuable time there.

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