Before you start planning any kind of event, the first thing to do is define your event goals and objectives. Many planners dive right into planning without even considering this crucial bit of information.
Don’t make this mistake! Setting event goals and objectives will actually make planning your event much easier.
What are event goals and objectives?
The terms “goals” and “objectives” are often used interchangeably. However, they each have distinct meanings:
- Goals are usually specific and measurable.
- Objectives are the strategies and steps that you use to reach your goals.
Use these tips to set event goals so you can maximize your event impact:
Step 1: Identify Your Event Goals
When determining the goals behind the event, you are simply documenting the purpose of the event. Why is the event taking place?
When setting goals, I love to work with SMART goals:
For instance, saying you want to “host the best marketing conference ever” is not very specific or measurable. A goal to “plan a week-long country music festival by the end of the month” is time-based and specific, but it’s probably not attainable or realistic.
It’s great to reach for the stars when setting your goals, but really think realistically of what you actually have a good shot at achieving. Usually, I like to write down lots of ideas for the goal first. Then I narrow the list and combine the ideas to come up with one solid goal.
Step 2: Create Key Questions and Resources
Here are some key questions to consider when you are setting and defining event goals:
- Why are you having this event?
- Why are you inviting attendees to your event?
- What are the key things you want an attendee to walk away with?
- What educational measures (i.e. speakers, panelists) do you need to put in place to accomplish this goal?
- Will you need speakers or any educational content to reach your goal?
- If it’s a social event, what is your social goal for your attendees and how will you encourage this interaction?
- What entertainment is needed to reach the social satisfaction you require for this event?
- How will you specifically measure your success?
These are just a few of the questions that you should ask yourself. For a more detailed goal plan, check out my Goal Planning Worksheet.
Step 3: Develop Your Event Strategy
The next step is thinking through your event strategy. Once you know your event goal — and you’re confident and passionate about those goals — it’s time to figure out how you’re going to reach tme.
When thinking strategy, I like to think of it from two perspectives:
- From the perspective of you, the planner
- From the perspective of your attendee.
How will both the planning team and the attendee help realize the goals?
You may find that your strategy might involve some mini-goals. Mini-goals and milestones are what you might need to set to get your ultimate goal — that is OK.
Map out your plan. This plan can be an outline, a project plan, or some other tangible document. It should highlight the goal you set and detail the actions you’ll take to reach those goals.
Step 4: Make Connections
No two events are exactly the same, but all focus on creating connections in one way or another. Maybe attendees connect with each other, with content, or with an idea.
You need to think about how to create those connections. For instance, if the goal of the event is to teach attendees, you need to think about what attendees are learning, why they’re learning it, and how you want to teach them.
With these answers, you can start to build out the essential items like speakers and content.
Finally, make sure that your goals are transparent to your attendees so that they are assisting you with accomplishing your vision along the way.
Your event goals affect everything else, too
I am passionate about event goals and objectives because I believe that when you figure them out for your event, all other planning seems to just be pieces to the puzzle. Your event budget, theme, speakers, and entertainment will all have a place and will ultimately have commonality with your goal.
Need a resource to help you with event goal-setting? Check out my Goal Planning Worksheet to help you get started with event objectives and goals examples, plus other tips for planning for your event.
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Naomi Tucker, CMP, HMCC is a Past President of MPI Wisconsin Chapter, and Sr. Strategic Account Manager at Meetings & Incentives Worldwide, Inc. She has more than twenty years of experience planning meetings and events and loves to write about her learnings in this industry at her personal blog, Plan It on a Post-It. When she’s not planning or writing about events, Naomi enjoys spending time with her her family, friends, and getting lost in a good book. You can connect with Naomi by tweeting with her @planitonapostit or @naotuck.