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Member Voices: Pro-Active Planning in Events

Michelle Planche, CMP

In the event planning business the planner’s job is the “expect the unexpected.”  Planners must take great measures to be pro-active to ensure a smooth event.

Here are eight tips to setting yourself up for success.

1. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse!

Rehearsals are in place for a reason and timing is everything in events. I always do a staff cue to cue and rehearsal for the stage before my client arrives to work out all of the kinks and ensure everyone knows their placement.  Then I do a full run-through with the client and another run-through with just the AV crew if we still need to iron anything out regarding the production.

2. Have a detailed plan in place.

Create a plan that anyone can execute. Developing clear and detailed event specifications are important so that anyone on your team can pick up the event specifications and know exactly how the event is supposed to run. I rarely refer to the event specifications on site because when you have been living and breathing the event you know all of the details but they are not there for me. They are there for the comfort of my client and team.

3. Know your plan B, C & D

Live events are a moving target and are always at risk for last minute changes. It is essential to plan for the worst case scenario. This makes decision making easier when you have thought out back-up plans ahead of time.

4. Never Assume!

I am always reminding my team to never assume anything! I always try to verify, in writing if feasible, everything so that it is documented and clear to both parties. Mishaps take place when two parties have made assumptions for each-other. It is always worth clarifying and ensuring you are on the same page!

5. Anticipate NOT having time!

It is always good to assume you will not have time on-site and you will be busy. I like to prepare check lists for volunteers, for staff, doors open, etc. so if I am busy I can provide a list of necessary “to do’s” that people can ensure are complete.  It also empowers people to become more pro-active themselves.

6. Plan to not be there.

Once I had a medical emergency with a delegate that took me off-site from the event for hours. I was very grateful that I had planned efficiently so that the event did not fall apart in my absence. Plan the event as if you—the organizer—are not even going to be there. Make sure everyone has a clear direction of the big picture of the event as well as the details which make the experience special for delegates.

7. Over-staff

Where feasible, I tend to over-staff and bring in more volunteers than needed. If someone cannot make it then I am not in a panic to fill a role.  Having more staff then required allows you to focus on the customer service part of the event such as ensuring your VIP’s have someone dedicated to making their experience the best it can be.

8. Set up Early

Having the luxury of an early set up makes the on-site execution much more enjoyable and smoother. Paying the extra fee to load in the night reduces the chances of mistakes or faulty assumptions causing difficulties during a quick load in.

Even though meticulous plans are put into place, events are never without some challenges t and a certain amount of change within an event is inevitable. The more proactive you are,  the smoother the set-up of the event and the more enjoyable it is for all concerned.

I believe the difference between the good or great planner is someone who can roll with the punches as well as someone who can make good, quick decisions with confidence


CanSPEP member Michelle Planche, CMP is the president and director of events of Paradigm Events, a full service, award-winning, event management and event planning firm based in Toronto. The Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners (CanSPEP) is a dynamic, diverse and innovative society of independent event professionals with a leading national voice in the event industry. It is the only association in Canada that offers an exclusive membership to independent event planner entrepreneurs. Formed in 1996, CanSPEP provides forums in which members exchange ideas, develop skills through educational programs and create a public awareness around the profession of event planners. 


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1 Comment » for Member Voices: Pro-Active Planning in Events
  1. Carol Priest says:

    This is an excellent article. We would all be wise to be reminded of every point . Michelle, you are to be commended for putting this together. Clearly shows your experience and expertise Thank you

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