There is one thing I never want to experience on the day of an event I’m managing: unnecessary stress.
Of course, there are ALWAYS last-minute issues that come up (hi, global pandemic!), but I’d rather pace stress over the many weeks and months of a planning period and not have to make 25,000 decisions when people are standing around not knowing where to go, what to do, or even why they’re there.
This is one reason why Reach Partners establishes an event strategy document for every event or conference or workshop we manage.
An event strategy plan is the all-encompassing document that describes and defines an event. In essence, it clarifies how event decisions will be made. It starts by identifying an event’s purpose (yup!) and then outlines its objectives or goals and how those goals relate to the bigger picture of what the organization or group is trying to do. It establishes goals for the attendees’ experience.
An event strategy plan is also a roadmap that helps planners navigate decisions and can filter out the fuzzy bunnies, those items or activities that don’t align with the purpose. It serves as a crystal ball to see into the future, allowing planners to visualize the event, plan the expenses, imagine what attendees will experience, identify potential problems (and mitigate those risks).
In short, it’s relatively easy to identify “what” kind of event you want to produce. It takes more time and effort to document the “why” and “how.” The event strategy document establishes all of those details.
To be fair, an event strategy document may not be needed if there’s a single person making decisions and doing the work of the event AND that person likes to make decisions as they go. Some people thrive on working this way; I do not. But really, how many events are ever done by a single person? Even weddings have a number of stakeholders – spouses-to-be, families, vendors – who want to get in on the decision-making or need to know what the plan is.
An event strategy is particularly helpful and necessary any time a group gets involved. Think about all the people who need to understand and work toward a common goal: volunteers, a board, committees, vendors, etc.
So, what should you include in an event strategy document?
In short: everything. It requires listing details that may be obvious in one context but not necessarily in another. It requires noting the needs of a target audience, the goals of the attendees, the event experience, the type and depth of content shared. It includes how to market the event to get people to attend and how you are going to execute on the plan. It documents the resources needed to put the event on.
Here are some basic sections we include in every event strategy document:
4.Event Content & Design
7.Event Execution Plan
I wish I could say building an event strategy is a quick process. It’s not. It can take weeks to consider all of the factors to build a good strategy, one that is useful for a team to execute.
That said, I wouldn’t manage an event without one. In the end, it will save you time, effort, energy and money. And that’s something we can all get behind.