5 Principles of Project Management for Event Planners


From an attendee’s standpoint, the best event is always something that runs seamlessly, without issues or delays. Planning corporate events can take a lot of energy, so not only do you need to be efficient, but you also have to be consistent.

For event planners, the best way to create consistency with your work is through project management. Much like setting up a building or planning roads, project management complements event planning in every way possible.

If you’re looking to become a better event planner, here are 5 principles of project management you would want to adopt. These will give you the edge you need to make every event a successful project.

1. Knowing Your Goals and Objectives

It’s easy to forget that event planners and project managers are virtually the same. They deal with two different types of projects, but they follow the same mantra when it comes to completion. Among the most important principles of project management for event planners for both is knowing how to identify your event goals.

When it comes to a hybrid project management approach, it’s crucial to know what are the expectations of the clients. These expectations become the goals of the project, as achieving these goals will help give you an idea of which direction to go.

Every event has tangible and intangible goals, and you want to make sure to check all the boxes. Tangible goals refer to measurable results for the event, from the number of attendees to x amount of donations. Intangible goals include making guests happy, raising more awareness, or gaining more recruits.

Always remember that tangible and intangible goals go hand in hand. Intangibles always drive tangible goals, so if you focus on fulfilling the intangibles, you will likely achieve your goals.


2. Optimizing Your Planning Process

Event planning is a nearly never-ending series of seemingly unlimited tasks that happen simultaneously. With that said, it’s every team should review task parameters, pick and choose which tasks to prioritize, and qualify them against requirements. There are several ways to make your team’s planning process much more efficient.

For starters, utilize project trackers to see where everyone is at. A good project tracker will tell you where every member of your team is, how they are doing with their tasks, and help you scale workflows much easier. Planning, tracking, and delivering every task relies on every member doing their job, so a tracker should be helpful.

You would also want to develop a communications plan at every stage of an event. You need to talk to your team during the planning stage, as well as communicate to key stakeholders about your progress. By doing so, you can prevent any abrupt changes and even potential mistakes.

Communicating every meeting detail to the staff and decision-makers can also help build hype within the team. Furthermore, you can verify your tech needs, as well as any way to speed up your current tasks.


3. Knowing Your Target Audience

Knowing your audience and/or customer is a principle that every event planner must understand. Whether it’s a concert, a meeting, a conference, or a party, it’s critical to understand who you’re producing this event for. Weeks or even months of project scheduling do not matter if the attendees hate the event.

Know who will attend the event and its target audience. Knowing your target audience can help drive programming, which will optimize the audience’s hype and excitement.

Almost every event, save for a few, doesn’t want dead air, so having a selection of activities should make the entire process less complicated.

Your target audience will also drive the marketing process for the event. Would-be attendees would know from the get-go if a planned event is not for them, so make sure you tailor-fit the marketing materials for the audience you want. Remember that an audience will vote with their wallets, so knowing them helps.


4. Being A True Leader

Most successful project managers have the confidence to lead their teams. They know how to improve team morale with good news and how to use bad news as a motivator to complete the events. Leadership and confidence are must-haves and event planners need to understand how to exude these characteristics.

Let’s be clear with one thing: not all event planners are born leaders. While not everyone is cut from the same cloth, there is a way for event planners to build themselves as leaders: confidence. Confidence in yourself, your event mission, your team, and your goals can make an event much different than it should be.

Have a vision and know your strengths and weaknesses. Surround yourself with people who can cover your weak spots and those you can rely on. Be optimistic and always find a way to resolve an issue. Be decisive but empowering, as the best leaders know when is the right time to push their team.

Don’t forget to show your gratitude to your team too. You want to lead, not boss people around. You want to be there to direct the team to successful events, showing gratitude makes your team more responsive to encouragements and criticisms.


5. Mitigating Risk and Planning For Contingencies

Great project managers are experts at looking for risk potentials and mitigating them. Cutting off the problem at the root is a must for events organizers. Remember, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, especially at an event. It’s only a matter of having the right contingency for it and making sure everything runs smoothly.

Make sure to account for potential issues and provide your team with a copy of your contingency plan. This allows your team to share your load and make sure that the entire event does not rest upon your shoulders. Communication and collaboration are everything, so let everyone know their roles.

Set aside a budget for emergencies and check everything a week before, three days before, a day before, and a few hours before the event. For crucial elements of the event like equipment, make sure you have spares and spares of spares. Have clear instructions for procurement and see if there’s a way to have someone on standby.


The Bottom Line

Project management and event planning principles are almost two sides of the same coin. As you begin to set your goals and create objectives with every event, you want to keep these principles ready to help you lead.

Follow what we said above to give you a realistic outlook on how your event will go. These will give you a good foundation of the event outcomes and how you can make it a success every time.

Let us know if you would like to see another blog on project management for event planners as we dive deeper into the discussion on principles of project management.  

Next, check out our blog on An End-of-the-Year Guide for Busy Professionals and Business Owners

Guest post by Sophia Young

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