De-de Mulligan is the president and chief content strategist for Mulligan Management Group. As a former meeting planner who has received Ohio MPI’s Planner of the Year award twice, she brings a unique perspective to her blog posts. She lives and works in Stow, Ohio.
Let’s face it: Time is rarely on your side if you arrange any event, from a corporate retreat to a convention. There are vendors, employees and volunteers to manage, not to mention speakers, sponsors and attendees. No wonder event coordination is considered one of the more stressful jobs in the world.
What if there was an easier way to manage the process? It involves the three C’s: communication, committees and conversion. If you follow this process, you will save oodles of time and keep your stress level manageable! Here are six tips to help streamline the process.
1. From the beginning, assemble your team and establish clear expectations. One of the reasons events sputter along and don’t reach their ROI is due to fuzzy or constantly changing direction from the top. When people don’t know what to do, they often do nothing. Be clear about what and when you need something and what happens if a deadline isn’t met.
2. Organize into committees. Don’t try and do it all. Let others help. Establish a leader for each of the following committees:
3. Select a project management tool and use it daily. Set up at least four fields for each entry: expected completion date, task, who’s responsible and notes. Determine if items can be completed simultaneously or serially. Highlight when they are completed.
What tool should you use? There are many, but the more popular ones are:
Whatever tool you use, be sure everyone can view, edit and post comments on the document collaboratively.
4. Set up standing weekly calls or meetings. Whether Monday mornings at 9 a.m. or Thursday afternoons at 3 p.m., establish a meeting that convenes the same day and start time each week. Depending on how smoothly things go, it can last between five and 50 minutes. Include employees, volunteers, vendors and anyone responsible for moving the event forward. Run down the tasks due over the last seven days and the ones open for the next seven. Find out if there are any issues or challenges and solicit feedback on how the group can help. At the end of each meeting, email your sponsoring executive to keep them in the loop.
5. Look at ways to convert your current process. Here are three great timesaving examples:
6. Hold a pre-con meeting the day before your event. Whether your key players are on-site or accessible via conference call, run down any open items and provide a detailed review of what is expected to happen the next day. Close any open loops by the end of the day.
Event planning time can be wasted because one person tries to do everything, or there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Assign one project manager (the event planner) and allow the committees the autonomy to do a great job!
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