Prior to planning, it’s important to determine what your event goals and objectives will be. Many planners dive right into planning without even considering this very important matter.
Don’t make this mistake. Defining event goals and objectives is essentially the first step you should take when you are planning your event.
So how does one go about this important step? 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 attain the goals you have set.
Use these tips to define event goals so you can maximize your event impact:
Identify Your Event Goals
The first step you should take is identifying the goals behind the event. When setting goals, I love to work with SMART goals.
SMART goals are typically goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based. Take the time to think about what goals you would like to establish for your event. Is your goal realistic, and can it really be attained? You can never have too many goals.
Usually, I just like to write as many as I can down first, narrow the list, and combine them after. 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.
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 (ie 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, refer to the Goal Planning Worksheet that I’ve created for you to help you when planning your goals and objectives for your event.
Develop Your Event Strategy
The next step is thinking event strategy. Once you have your event goals narrowed down, and you are confident and passionate about them, try to brainstorm on the steps and strategy to help you obtain your goals.
When thinking strategy, I like to think of it from two perspectives: from the perspective of you the planner or your planning team, and then 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 are what you may need to set to get your ultimate goal, and that is okay.
Map out your plan. This plan can be an outline, a project plan, or some other tangible document, project plan, or some other tangible document that calls out the goals you have and the actions you will take to reach those goals.
No two events are exactly the same. Some events lend themselves to making connections and not necessarily delivering content. For some events, the goal is to teach attendees. In cases like these, you need to think about what attendees are learning, what reason are they learning it, and what you want to teach them.
With these answers you can then start to build out the essential items like speakers and content, ensuring that you are selecting the right content for these goals and objectives. Finally, make sure that your goals are transparent to your attendees so that they are assisting you with accomplishing your vision along the way.
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.