How to Plan an Event: a Complete Guide

Looking for advice on planning an event? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve seen a lot of organizations’ events over the years. And while we can’t identify all of the details you’ll need to think about (festa magica on the type of event!) we’ve got a bushel of best practices for you to follow.

Plus, to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, we’ve prepared this free, easy-to-use checklist for your event planning. If you’re throwing a virtual event, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our downloadable virtual event checklist.

We hope you find this guide useful. Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about planning your event.

What is an Event Plan?

An event plan is a guide for all the components of your event. It coordinates these elements against SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals and objectives, as well as a timeline. To identify your timeline, we recommend working backwards from your event date (a workback schedule!). Your event plan helps keep you on track and can serve as your North Star as you prepare for the day of your event. Regardless of the size of your event, a good plan covers the same essential components, which we’ll cover in the next section.

What Are The Core Features of an Event Plan?

Your event plan is the launching point for your entire event, so it’s important to make sure it covers the right fundamentals.

Your event plan should cover:

  • Event Goals and Objectives
  • Individual Roles and Responsibilities
  • Volunteers and Volunteer Training
  • Budget
  • Date of Event
  • Event Master Plan
  • Event Location
  • Event Software
  • Event Branding
  • Speakers and Special Guests
  • Partnerships and Sponsorships
  • Promotional, Advertising, Marketing, and Publicity Plan
  • Day-of Processes
  • Vendor information

While this may feel like a daunting list, we’ve created a step-by-step breakdown of each element and everything you need to know to get started. Without further ado, here are our 13 steps to creating a comprehensive event plan.

Develop Your Event Goal and Objectives

The very first step in planning your event is to establish tangible goals and objectives.

Start by asking yourself: Why are you organizing this event and what do you hope to achieve?

If you know your organization’s key goals before planning, you can ensure that every part of your event is optimized for success.

Are you trying to raise awareness for a cause, or collect a predetermined amount of donations for your next project? Are you hoping to attract 50 guests, or 500?

Setting a goal with quantifiable metrics of success will make it easier for your team to ensure that you reach them.

Even better, figure out what happens if you meet, exceed, or miss your goal. At what point do you wrap up shop? At what point do you get to do something more exciting next time? Understanding where you’re going will only help you get there faster.