Planning a corporate event of any size can quickly make you go crazy. We get it—there are so many moving parts to keep track of! That’s why to-do lists and templates are an event planner’s best friend. Start with this high-level to-do list when you begin brainstorming your next conference or training. These are the big pieces to keep in mind as you develop your event plan. Check them off as you go along—or use this list to create subtasks under each to-do item that relates directly to your event.
- Align your event with your organization’s overall goals. Want to make sure you get executive and employee buy-in for your event? Clearly outline how your event supports stated business goals. The C-suite will appreciate that you’ve tied the event to the company’s bottom line. Your employees, meanwhile, will appreciate that your event has a concrete purpose (beyond the typical, vague “professional development” reasons)—they won’t view your event’s training as just busywork!
- Determine benchmarks for the success of your event. Before you start planning your event’s logistics, it’s important to define what success looks like. What will be your event’s key takeaways—and how will you measure success? What’s your expected ROI? Almost every component of your event should be designed with these benchmarks in mind.
- Develop a fun, thorough theme. Theming your corporate event is an excellent way to amp up excitement for your participants. You can also strategically use your theme to tie all of the day’s sessions and activities together, weaving a common thread throughout. Theming your event is only worth it, however, if you put in the effort to ensure the theme is cohesive and creative. From themed dining options to getting company leaders to dress up according to the theme, success lies in the details. Your participants will pick up on a perfunctory effort, and then your excitement-inducing theme may do the opposite!
- Find ways to engage employees. Even if your corporate event involves more keynote speakers than hands-on activities, it’s still crucial to keep your employees engaged and involved throughout the entire event. Social media can be a big help here—encourage your employees to post pictures and key insights on their own social media channels, using a designated event hashtag. To avoid the dreaded dead-eyed stare from the crowd, get your participants up and moving frequently.
- Measure your event’s ROI. After you wrap up your event, it’s time to determine how you performed against your benchmarks. Collect feedback from participants through surveys or small group discussions to see how your event was received by employees. If your event focused on teaching participants new skills to change behaviors, you could use skills assessments and reports from their managers to determine how well they’ve retained information and if they’ve actually applied their new skills on the job.
- Design a retention program. The learning doesn’t stop after your event ends! To ensure your participants put their new skills and knowledge to good use, develop a post-event retention program that reinforces what participants learned during your corporate event. Combine online tools—like web-based quizzes, review videos, and online forums—with in-person strategies like one-on-one check-ins with managers or group review sessions with colleagues.
The right tools, checklists, and a clear goal in mind can help make your next event a rousing success. If you’ve planned well-received corporate events in the past, how have you kept track of all the important planning components?
As Chief Operating Officer, Sue’s extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle’s Flight.