13 Jul Jump to the Conclusion
The Surest Way to a Great End to an Event Is to Start There
A new client asked recently, “so, where do we start”? “With the end in mind of course,” I said (bless Stephen Covey for that lesson years ago.) Purposefully determining your desired goal and working backward is the foundation for what we do. In our experience, this is the most critical step to event planning for three reasons:
1. It forces everyone to agree on what success looks like.
2. It creates a foundation to build the event going forward.
3. It serves as a guideline to mitigate scope creep and maintain focus.
Here’s how we like to start:
Pick Your Star
Imagine the day after your successful event—what happened? That’s the big question and your goal. Did you get new clients? Did you make your boss happy? (Yes, that’s a thing.) Be as specific as possible. For example, if you want to expand your knowledge about contacts, that’s great. That also means that there needs to be a means to acquire and record that information – and report it after the event.
Put It on Paper—or on Something
Now that you know where you want to go make a list of the steps, including money and people, that you’ll need to get there. This list doesn’t have to be in order, but recording your thoughts will help identify and expose critical items.
Next, group your list into ordered clusters. Note cards, Post Its, and computer flow charts have all been used for this step, whatever works for you! Finally, estimate the resources, both financial and personnel, that you’ll need to complete each cluster.
Jump to the Ending
Now it’s time to make your plan actionable by creating a timeline and attaching milestones to events. Starting at the end, establish the following:
a. Specific milestone dates to each major goal.
b. The last step needed before the goal’s due date.
Continue until you complete your timeline. Note that many dates will shift as the plan becomes final. And with any luck, your ideal start date will still be in the future when you finish.
The Next Best Thing to a Crystal Ball
Having someone look over your plan is always a great idea. Actually, we strongly recommend it. Fresh eyes can often see things from a different perspective and help to make sure you haven’t missed something critical.
Backward planning can give you confidence as you move forward to achieving your goal. One final note: don’t make the actual event the end of your timeline. It’s important to collect the learnings and feedback from all the parties involved. That will ensure that your next event is even more successful.
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