If you’ve ever had to plan an event, you know how tricky getting all your ducks in a row can be. Chiara Adin of the NA Collective—a New York City–based event agency that creates memorable experiences for clients like H&M, The North Face, and Pandora—has some pointers to help you get everything done on time and on budget.
“Whether you’re planning your wedding, a fundraising event, or hosting an event for 500 people, start with a baseline of how much you’re looking to spend and a way to track your purchases and expenses throughout the planning process,” says Chiara says. “Excel is a great tool for this—use its mathematical capabilities to total and track your expenses in one place.”
Chiara stresses the importance of thinking it all through by taking some time to sit down and visualize your guests’ journey from start to finish. “This will ensure you’re not missing any major details like: How do they find out about it? How do they RSVP or do they need to? How do they get there? What do they do when they get there? Is there anything special you want them to remember about your event after they leave?”
In addition to keeping track of finicky details in a spreadsheet, you might think about laying your plans out in a presentation if you need to share them with colleagues, sponsors, or partners.
“We make PowerPoint presentations for every single event we produce so that everyone is on the same page and you can have visuals of all your details,” says Chiara.
Here are Chiara’s top three tips to help you prepare for any big event:
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.
“You can’t do everything by yourself and you can’t be an expert at everything unless you’re a super hero!” she laughs. “It’s all about reaching out to your contacts, especially people that you think have already done something similar or can provide some insights. In the event space, it really is all about knowing the right people to do the right job, and you’ll never know if you don’t ask,” says Chiara.
2. Delegate when possible.
It’s a rare thing to see an event pulled off well by just one person. Most of the time it becomes too stressful and disorganized because no one can be everywhere at once. Trying to save money by doing everything yourself may save some dollars, but will probably cost you your sanity, and make the event a miserable affair for you.
“If you don’t have funds, ask some friends or people with aligned interests or your family to help,” says Chiara. “I guarantee you’ll come up with at least one or more volunteers willing to take on a specific task at your event.”
3. Stay calm and organized.
No matter how big or small the event is, stress will build up as you get closer to the day. Even though you think you still have tons of time to get lots of little things done, that time evaporates quickly—especially if you’re trying to do everything yourself.
Think about using Excel to help you manage all those budgets, lists, or timelines. The more organized you are in your planning, keeping on top of things will help ensure you don’t forget details when you get stressed.
“There will ALWAYS be something that gets messed up last minute. It’s inevitable. But the ability to think on your feet and make calls to the right people will always save you in a pinch,” says Chiara. “If you’ve followed the steps above when the last final ball drops, you’ll be cool and collected to figure out the best way to fix the problem.”
Apps like Excel and PowerPoint can make your event go that much smoother and help you stay organized, calm, and collected. If you have Office 365, take a look at some of our templates to get started.