From deciding on a venue to choosing vendors, planning an event requires a lot of forward-thinking, strategy, and preparedness. And all of that requires meetings. Sure! Long, drawn-out meetings between vendors and interior designers may not be the most exciting part of event planning, but it’s certainly one of the most important.
But what meetings should you have? What are the most critical ones? Here’s a handy-dandy guide to all pre-event meetings you should be having.
Whether you’re screaming this question on your knees while hiding your tears or you’re actually wondering why meetings are essential for event planners, we’ve got the answer.
Meetings help you form relationships that keep your event glued together. You need to coordinate with your planners, you have to figure out the costs and details on that venue, and you definitely need to have that initial design sprint.
In fact, the average event has A LOT of meeting. But, how do you know which ones are absolutely necessary and which ones are time wasters? After all, businesses waste around $399 billion a year on meetings.
Here’s the event planner meeting roadmap — a.k.a those meetings you really need to have.
The Meetings Roadmap
1. The Initial Meeting
This is the meeting that should kick-start your entire event. Everyone that’s on the event team (e.g., staff, clients, vendors, etc.) should be discussing and planning the entire event. This is the blueprint phase. Make sure that you assign actionable steps during this meeting. These first meetings can be great brainstorming sessions, but too often, everyone gets excited about the events, adrenaline is rushing, and you leave the meeting without actually assigning people roles. Don’t do that! Assign those roles.
If you don’t, guess who everyone thinks is going to handle literally everything? Yup! That’s you!
Try to figure out the following details during this meeting.
- Type of event
- Venue ideas and locations
- Vendor ideas and top picks
- Ticket prices and packages
- Talent ideas
- Event Technology
- Costs and budget
- Merchandising needs and ROI
2. The Venue Meeting
Once you’ve picked a few different venues, you’ll want to have meetings with the venue owners. These are less of strategy meetings and more of detail meetings and follow ups. You’ll mostly use these meetings to help you pick the venue and plan out any special needs you have in relations to your event type. These are typically semi-long meeting (i.e., +30 minutes).
3. The Vendor Meetings
You’ll have plenty of these meetings to go around. Choosing vendors is a crucial component of event planning. Some of you may have pre-selected vendors that you’ve established relationships with and worked with before. That’s great! These meeting can be brisk. And, if you included those vendors in the initial meeting, you may be able to skip these outright and just include fast follow ups. But, if you haven’t picked a vendor, prepare yourself.
You should meet with all of you prospective vendors, discuss pricing, goals and objectives. Always bring other vendor quotes with you to compare. This will help you negotiate a better deal and figure out which vendor is the right fit for you, your event and budget. For more advice on choosing the right vendor, check out this blog.
4. The Talent Meetings
Whether you’re running an outdoor concert, a theatre event, or a business event, you’ll need some talent. These may be guest speakers, performers, or actors, but the game plan is still the same — you need to convince them to come to your event and discuss their schedule. For keynote speakers, this includes when they’ll be on stage, what kinds of breakout meetings they’ll have, etc.
These meetings are typically quick, and you can usually group all talent together OR simply have these over the phone in 15-minute bursts. If you’re trying to keep them short, let them know beforehand how long the meeting will run for. This will help them stick to the schedule and not overwhelm you with questions.
5. The Marketing Meetings
Now it’s time to figure out how you’re going to actually get out there and sell some tickets. Will you use Facebook? Maybe Twitter? Eitherway, this meeting can quickly get overwhelmed with “brainstorming.” Don’t let this happen! Good marketing should leverage metrics, thought out plans, data and evidential support of estimated results. Stick to actionable items and keep conversations based around your goals.
Yes! That idea about randomly sticking post-it notes to peoples’ cars is cool. But, if you know that you won't end up doing experiential marketing, why are you spending 20 minutes talking about it?
6. The Volunteer/Staff Meetings
Meeting with staff/volunteers can usually take place in one big meeting, closer to the event date(s). You’ll have probably touched base with them plenty of times by this point via phone or email, so these big meetings should be all about the big overarching goal and training. Everyone should be on the same page about both pre-event and day-of schedules, responsibilities, and goals. This is a good time to go over some event nuances like ticket organization, crowd control and where to direct guest complaints.
Once your volunteers know the game plan, make sure that you have the right software to manage them appropriately.
7. The Design Meeting
These design meetings are a bucket for all of the design-like meetings you may need to have. These could be audio-visual meetings, interior design meetings, or any number of design-related elements that are specific for the event you’re running. These are a must-have. The last thing you want is to arrive at the event and have non-working speakers and clueless staff.
8. The Final Meeting
It’s here! The event is starting today or tomorrow! This is your final event meeting (that doesn’t include liquor and party hats!) So, you should make sure that everyone knows exactly what they need to be doing before, during, and after the event kicks off.
Have you set up your merchandise booths?
Who is running them?
Does everyone know when they go on stage?
Do you have a plan to handle the crowd at the front door?
Is everyone assigned a role?
Does everyone have a copy of the event schedule, times, shift changes, etc.?
These are the questions you need to ask yourself. If you’ve done everything right until now, this meeting should be short. But, if you missed a few meetings along the way, now is the chance to get everyone on the same page.