Corporate events can be hard to pull off, especially if you have short notice or not enough help in pulling them together. Fortunately, if you start planning these events early and have a few contingency plans in place, you’ll be able to create an incredible event that impresses your co-workers and any special guests you’ve invited. The following guide will help you plan successful corporate events in 2016 and beyond, no matter what type of event or how large the guest list is.

What’s the Focus?

Before you can really start on anything, you need to have a very clear idea as to what your corporate event is going to be focused on. Is it a recognition ceremony? A company celebration of some sort? A team building event? Will you have company leadership speaking, or will you need to bring in motivational speakers or other lecturers? Is the event dress code casual, business formal, or black tie? This plus the time and day of the event will determine things like room setup, food, and other important factors.

Make a To-Do List and a Time Line

The first thing to do is sit down and create a list of all the major tasks that have to be accomplished. Don’t break this down into small tasks just yet—just hit the major things like “arrange catering” and “book venue.” You’ll break each of these tasks down into smaller sub-tasks later.

Once you’ve got your to-do list done, grab a calendar and make a timeline. You’ll want to have various deadlines for things such as booking your venue, inviting a keynote speaker, sending out RSVPs, and more. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time in case something goes wrong. One good rule of thumb is to set all of your dates, then move everything forward one week.

Create Sub-Tasks

Now you can break down each of your major tasks into sub-tasks and add them to the calendar. Under “book caterer,” for example, you may have sub-tasks for gathering menus and getting quotes, doing a tasting, selecting the menu, and submitting the final head count. Under “finalize decorations,” you might have tasks such as selecting the tablecloths, picking out centerpieces, and deciding on any other decorations you might need. Don’t leave anything out—this is going to be your main outline for the event, so you want it as detailed as possible, so you do not realize you’ve accidently left something off later.

What’s your Budget?

Before you can start crossing off anything on the to-do list, you need to know how much money you have to spend. Your boss may provide you with a set budget to work with, or you may need to gather quotes and submit a budget for approval. If you are working within a budget given to you, you may have to cut some corners here and there. The same is true if you submit a budget and it is declined.

If you are submitting a budget, you’ll need to gather quotes for as many line items as possible. Your venue, catering, event staff, and speaker’s fees are likely to be the most expensive, so be certain to get as close to the actual figures for these items as possible. You may not be able to provide firm numbers for everything, which is often to be expected if you are planning this event months or even a year in advance.

Delegate

Very rarely will one person be asked to put together an entire corporate event, so make use of anyone tasked with helping you or has volunteered to be on the event staff. Delegate some of the more time-consuming tasks to these people so you can focus on the things that need your attention. Remember to stay organized—make sure you know who is in charge of what task and make sure that they have all of the information they need to successfully accomplish that task. Remember, if someone does not perform their task by the deadline given to them, it may fall to you to do so.

Check in with Vendors a Month Ahead

If all goes as planned, you will have things such as the caterer, florist, and venue booked well in advance of your event. However, about a month before, you should check in with each of your vendors and with your conference speakers to make certain there are no last-minute surprises.

Relax

Corporate event planning can be stressful, but with a good plan and a team of dependable assistances, you can pull it all together without many problems. The key to it all is good planning. If you take the time to make a to-do list and a calendar, you are already halfway there.

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