Introducing The Ultimate Event Planning Template

The Ultimate Event Planning Template

12 min read
New to events? No problem. Use this tool to become a superstar Event Manager.

That big pile in your in-tray has to go. It’s been glowing like a beacon, bringing to mind the groan-worthy list of tasks on your to-do list. Taking decisive action, you pop it in the cupboard. Out of sight, out of mind for now. Stretching back in the chair, you’re fresh and ready to tackle priorities.

The Event Planning Template comes pre-loaded with 14 day, 90 day and 6+ month lead-times.

Knock. Knock.

It’s your boss. She’s thrilled with your work and wants you to manage the company’s annual awards night.

“Of course, I’d love to,” you beam, slumping quietly on the inside.

What the?

You’ve never managed an event before, not to mention a huge one for 2500 people…

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Panic not! You don’t needn’t muck through on your own, because we’re going to show you step-by-step what to do – and when – with our incredibly easy yet comprehensive event planning template.

Why You Need This Event Planning Template

It may not be a surprise that event management is closely related to project management. Just as you rely on your to-do list to prioritise and recall tasks, project managers and event managers depend on planning tools to run with razor-like precision their frequently large, multi-faceted projects.

Without such tools they’d be lost at sea and chances are so would you.

Managing events puts you in the spotlight. It’s you running the show, and you want to make it one awesome production. Unfortunately, small boo-boos can cause big problems. Imagine the havoc of forgetting to tell the keynote speaker about the last-minute venue change? Yikes! Having a rigorous planning tool at your fingertips will avoid oversights like these.

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Our comprehensive event planning tool guides you the whole way through from start to finish. It comes pre-filled with virtually all aspects you need to consider and will save you a heap of time and stress.


Free Template Download

Download the Event Planning Template to:

  • Understand and track key event details
  • Plan any event, from 14 days, 90 days or 6+ months away
  • Save time

* Available in Excel and Google Sheet formats, fully editable, ready to print and free for a limited time. Download now

Start With a Strategic View

It’s always smart to put the horse before the cart, and not the other way around. Thinking strategically means taking a holistic view of the project, so you can see up front what’s involved and then plan the tactical details accordingly.

Event Purpose

Once you’re clear on the event purpose, all decisions along the way should support the achievement of this goal. For example, the annual awards night is all about celebrating and recognising company, team and individual achievements in a way that’s consistent with organisational values.

Keep this in mind as you get into the detail of the project, and make sure that all the little pieces fit with the bigger picture.


Scope

How many people will attend, and roughly what sort of ‘vibe’ or theme is appropriate for the occasion and the audience. It may be a formal, black-tie event with conservative, classical entertainment to match; other occasions may call for more fun and action with roving performers and great dance music after dinner.

The same applies to keynote speakers and MCs: ensure they are the right fit for your audience in content, style and tone.


Stakeholders

Ensure you establish stakeholders in the project. Apart from guests to invite, who do you need to work with and keep informed along the way?

Examples include your boss – of course! – finance/procurement team, legal counsel, keynote speakers and sponsors.


Budget

It’s really important to know your budget up front. There’s no point diving straight in and booking a super-expensive venue to find you’ve got no money left for catering and entertainment.

If you’re unsure, ask your finance team for budgets from previous, similar events so you can allocate money to get the best results possible.


Lead Times

Generally speaking, the larger the event the more planning time you’ll need. And the more time you have to plan, the better!

If you’ve been lumped with a last-minute, panic-stations event to plan, don’t worry because our template has options for 14-day, 90-day and 6-month+ lead times.


Legalities

Check if there are any special permissions required from local council to hold events/serve food and alcohol at the venue. Develop a risk assessment plan (such as security and emergency exits).

Ensure all insurance certificates, such as public liability insurance, are up to date.


The Devil’s In The Details

Once you’ve taken a high-level view of the event it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty. For smaller events you might choose the 90-day or 14-day template, both of which compress fewer number of steps into shorter timeframes.

There’s a lot to remember, but we’ve made it easy with all the steps listed for you, chunked down into 8 key areas:


Below are descriptions of the key things to consider. For a complete list of steps in each area refer to the event planning template.

1. Venue

With guest numbers and budget in mind source a suitable venue. You’ll need to act swiftly on this one, because your event can’t happen without a home!

Here are some of the things you’ll need to consider:

  • Availability – guessing doesn’t help, you’ll need to call and check.
  • Capacity – does it have enough space for guests in your chosen format. Remember, seated dinners usually take more space than cocktail, standing events. Ensure the layout suits, and that guest will be able to see and hear speakers and entertainment.
  • Catering – is it available onsite or do you need to organise catering separately?
  • Check the equipment at the venue – does it have ceiling rigging? Do you you need to add or block lighting, create additional staging and do they have an onsite technician who can support you on the night? Be crystal clear on anything you need to book externally and make provisions in your budget.
  • Parking and transport options for guests and VIPs
  • Book! Carefully read and sign contracts (get help from your legal team if needed), pay deposit and lock in the venue ASAP

2. Catering

Whether catering is onsite or external you’ll need to make decisions about menu.

Keep in mind:

  • Event format – is it cocktail style with drinks and canapes, or a seated 3-course dinner?
  • Event ‘vibe’ – is the cuisine style a good fit?
  • Check if special dietary requirements can be accommodated
  • Costs and logistics for food preparation and delivery on event day
  • Book! Carefully read and sign contracts (once again, ask your boss or legal team for help), pay deposit and lock in the caterer.



Pro Tip

You want your event to be a knockout, right?

Guests are less likely to remember the organic truffle oil on the mash than they are the incredible, witty and entertaining speaker who had them hanging off every fabulous word, or the live band who got everyone on the dance floor with their funky tunes.

3. MC and/or Keynote Speaker

Most events need a host of some kind, to provide structure, flow and keep everything running to time. Consider if you’ll need to hire a Master of Ceremonies, and how much budget you can allocate. The same goes for keynote speakers. Keep in mind that MCs and speakers need to be the right fit for your audience.

Luckily, this part is made very easy by Speaker Bureaus – such as Enhance Entertainment – through which most MCs, speakers and performers need to be booked. Call Enhance and we’ll do all the hard yards for you: recommending speakers, checking their availability and briefing them for the event. BONUS: our fees are charged to the speaker/MC (this also applies to booking entertainers), so you get loads of expert support with no effect on your budget!

4. Entertainment

Any experienced event professional will tell you that entertainment can make or break the night. If it falls flat, guests will be bored and restless, making them long for the night to wrap up five minutes ago. On the other hand, get the entertainment right and your guests will have a ball, going home with fond memories. Not to mention how good you’ll feel at your achievement, and how much your boss will love you.

Remember, your talent or speaker agency will source, book and brief performers on your behalf; first, before you approach the bureau, it’s a good idea to consider the event purpose, format, theme and audience demographic. Know how much budget is allocated for entertainment, as this will help guide your bureau too. There are myriad options: stage bands, comedians, roving performers and illuminated entertainers to name a few.

5. AV/Lighting/Staging

Once you’ve established what AV and lighting is available at the venue, check with speakers and entertainers for any special requirements. They may need additional staging or AV equipment. Some speakers have preferences for lapel vs handheld microphones, so be sure to check these details. If you need to engage external parties, provide a clear brief, get a firm quote, sign contracts and pay deposit.

6. Program

Determine the exact running order for the event, listing times for all components, including meal serving times, speakers and entertainers. In the events world, this is a Run Sheet. You might like to check out our popular Run Sheet Template.

Ensure all stakeholders have a copy of the event program, so they know what’s happening and when:

  • MC
  • Speakers
  • Entertainers
  • Caterers
  • Technicians
  • Your manager

Free Run Sheet Template
Do you want to streamline your event, manage RSVPs, record specific dietary requirements, save time and more? Download the Event Run Sheet template now. Free for a limited time.



7. Promotion/Signage

Invitations need to be designed, produced and sent to your guest list. It’s important that these look 100% professional and be consistent with corporate branding and event theme. It’s usually best to brief your PR or ad agency to do this, unless you have in-house resources who can design and print for you. RSVP management needs to be rigorous in collecting all details to a central repository, collecting important contact details and any special dietary requirements.

Remember to promote your event through the company website, email and social media, keeping all design elements consistent and in line with corporate branding requirements.

Check if you need to create any signage on the day:

  • Welcome signage
  • Directional signage
  • Lanyards
  • Corporate banners


These will need to be designed and produced ahead of time.

8. Event Day Checklist

Keep nerves to a minimum by making an event day checklist in advance. That way you can ascertain if you’ll need a helping hand from a colleague. It’s hard to be in five places at once, with everybody from kitchen to technician to VIP guest wanting to ask you something all at once!

Key items to check:

  • Setup of tables and chairs
  • AV equipment and lighting
  • Room temperature – adjust air con as needed
  • Communicate any last minute run sheet changes
  • Walk through with MCs/speakers/performers

See the event planning template for more ideas.


Free Template Download

Download the Event Planning Template to:

  • Plan any event, from 14 days, 90 days or 6+ months away
  • Understand and track key event details
  • Save time

* Available in Excel and Google Sheet formats, fully editable, ready to print and free for a limited time.

You Can Thank Us Later

After you’ve adapted our fabulous planning template for your event, and your boss is lavishing praise for the knockout event you produced, take a moment to breathe and enjoy your success. We’re kidding, you don’t need to thank us. It’s always a pleasure to support newer event managers with tips, trick and tools to help you become the event superstar you know you can be!


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About the Author

Ashli Payne

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