By Josiah Harris

As business moves deeper into a digital age of online planning and organization, it can be easy to overlook some of the more practical essentials when running an event.

It doesn’t matter if you’re hosting an educational conference or a networking event, you’re going to want to prepare so that everything runs efficiently. Here is an event planning checklist to get you started.

Know Your Audience

Let’s pretend you’re a software company looking to market and sell some of your latest products. Your approach to how everything is scheduled and presented should be different to if you were an insurance consultancy company seeking to raise brand awareness.

Your end game plan shouldn’t be just to sell the products but to get the people in the room back for your next event. That only happens if each of them goes away satisfied that they got what they came for. Even if you land no new clients you’ll have gained something far more valuable, trust and a professional faith in your business. However, this only happens if you know your audience and give them what they’ve turned up for.

There are few things more damaging to a company than a decline in trust because of an event that failed to deliver on its claims. Research who you are tailoring the event for and then strategize the best way to provide them with the information they’re going to turn up for.

If you don’t know where to start, there are a number of guides available online.

Find the Right Venue

Take the time to pick the right venue and location. A big part of this links to the above section ‘know your audience’, for example, if you know that a large number of your attendees reside in Manchester, don’t host your event in Brighton. Seems like common sense? You would be surprised at how many companies make this mistake.

Make sure your venue is big enough. Over crowding is definitely something you need to avoid. As is holding your event or conference in a building that resembles something from The Maze Runner. Make it easy to find and navigate around. Use signs and boards if you have to. If people get lost and become frustrated they are going to arrive with a negative mindset right off the bat.

Picking the right venue can be tough if you haven’t put thought into the essentials your event is going to require.

Keep Track of Who Attends and Who Is Leaving Early

Did a big group of people leave at a similar time during your event? That’s fine if you know when they left so you can pinpoint the exact moment things started to go wrong and work on it for next time.

The big mistake is not even realizing these people left or worse still, that they were even there in the first place. ID cards are essential to any event and not just so that it remains exclusive to people you invited. You need to know who has bothered to turn up. If you have limited space and your wasting invites on persistent no-shows, you need to know. These people clearly aren’t interested and aren’t worth your time.

There are several ways you can track delegate attendance but the easiest is probably getting yourself an id card printer. The best of these devices will save you time and money providing you the ability to produce ID cards in minutes on the day at the event as people arrive. It’s a far more effective way to monitor the success of your event than the old school clip- board checklist.

If you’re holding a large event this technology means, you’ll be able to locate people you really want to talk to or see where they have spent most of their time.

Make Sure Your Team Is Hospitable

Have you ever been to an event where no one greeted you? Maybe you had some questions and couldn’t find anyone to answer them. It probably put you off. When you feel disconnected the opinion you form of the company will always be a negative one. Sometimes something as simple as a smile and a cup of tea can make all the difference, don’t be too proud or timid to make the effort.

You can guarantee the people who come to your conference will want to know the person behind the company. It’s the reason why stock values will plummet when a CEO leaves or a company founder passes away, if people like and trust you they’ll trust your business. Find a way to meet as many people who have turned up as possible, they’ll be impressed you’ve gone out of your way to personally introduce yourself.

Even if you can’t see everyone yourself because the event is too large, make sure you position your team members to provide information and refreshments where appropriate.