4 min read
Stagedge Team

The 7 Cardinal Sins of Event Planning

The 7 Cardinal Sins of Event Planning

As the world emerges from almost two years of semi-hibernation due to the Covid pandemic, large gatherings are once again on the agenda for many organizations, but meeting in-person is far from a return to “business as usual.” Event planners must not only lure reluctant participants away from their screens and out into the world, but they also need to recognize that these attendees have shorter attention spans and are no longer willing to spend five hours simply sitting and receiving information. Partnering with an experienced vendor who knows and understands the ins and outs of running events is an essential first step, but it is not the only consideration. Since forewarned is forearmed, here are seven “cardinal sins” to avoid when planning your next event.


1. Choosing the venue first

It’s understandable that some organizations jump straight into booking a venue in their eagerness to get back on track. But choosing the wrong venue could have significant financial implications, including having to pay your way out of a contract if you made the wrong choice. One of the biggest pitfalls in choosing a site is underestimating your space needs. Venues often claim, for example, that they can handle 1,000 attendees, but this number shrinks when you add in technical crew, production equipment, chairs, etc. Your space needs will almost always exceed your initial estimates, and it is far easier to make a large space look smaller than squeeze a giant crowd into a too-small venue. A good production partner will help you choose the right space for your event goals—and even help you vet the contract ahead of time.



2. Underestimating costs

Old models for estimating costs are outdated, and budgeting with a “pre-Covid” mentality is a recipe for trouble. In the new economic landscape, you need to think big—ideally three times as big—as before. Why? There are a few factors at play:

  • Hybrid events are really two events in one—both virtual and in-person simultaneously. This combination requires additional technology and staff to ensure the virtual experience is as good as the physical one, and these extras cost money.

  • Inflation continues to take its toll. Travel, lodging, food, and labor—everything connected to hosting great events—costs more than it has in decades.

  • Smart event budgeting requires a cushion—extra money allocated for contingencies, since Murphy’s Law applies. Your keynote speaker requests technology you don’t have? An executive can’t rehearse until after-hours? Having a financial cushion ready for these popup issues is a necessity.

3. Forgetting to include stakeholders

When it comes to planning a large event, there is nothing more challenging to accommodate than last-minute additions. To prevent the likelihood of that occurring, ensure everyone who has a stake in the event's outcome is invited to the planning process. Key stakeholder groups include:

  • Senior leadership or other decision-makers within the organization. Anyone with final approval of the overall event must be involved as early as possible. When asking for input, use phrases that encourage feedback, like: “I wanted to run a few ideas past you,” or, “here’s where we are so far. I’d love your feedback.”

  • Keynote or celebrity speakers. These folks may need special arrangements, or they could come with riders requiring that your organization meet specific needs or requests as part of the agreement to appear. Be sure to go over these needs ahead of time to avoid unpleasant surprises.


4. Neglecting branding and design

Poor branding and design can sabotage your event, creating an amateur appearance. Consistency in branding and design throughout every touchpoint for your event is key, beginning with save-the-date and registration emails and including the website hub that contains event information. You’ll want this consistent tone and appearance to carry on through signage and other graphics at the venue, including breakout rooms, meals at restaurants, etc. The goal is a seamless event where the theme is established early and ties the event together. Uniformed staff acting as “human arrows” to guide participants is a nice feature, as well as creating an event app or dispersing QR codes at various spots at the event so attendees can scan for information.


5. Forgetting to entertain your audience

There are far more reasons to skip an event than to attend, and in the post-Covid world, you’ll need something to break through the inertia of two years of sitting at home. Planners must find the hook that motivates people to attend their events. Finding the “fun factor,” the thing that gives people a reason to go to your event, is of primary concern. These fun factors will make your event memorable, inducing attendees to talk about the event and want to return to future events. Spectacles like live performances—think dualling pianos, a well-known band, or light shows—can lure people out of their hotel rooms for dinner and create excitement. The fun factor can also be an activity, like a yoga workshop, a guided hike, helicopter tour, or a trip to a brewery. Imagination is the key. At one successful event, the organizer created a designated space, in a branded lounge, for informal gatherings between workshops.

6. Neglecting your speakers

Speakers are the lifeblood of any event, and forgetting to take care of them can be disastrous. Planners must ensure speakers are updated frequently on what’s happening and any changes to the plan. Rehearsals are also indispensable opportunities for speakers to practice with venue technology. Event planners have a chance to help their speakers shape their presentations through training and script consultation. Remember, while your speakers are often technical experts, they may have little experience as presenters and public speakers. Ideas to help them achieve success include:

  • Incorporating video into presentations

  • Encouraging interactivity

  • Explaining the format of your speaker’s presentation (e.g., panel, Q & A, workshop, speech) when you meet with them for the first time

  • Offering a consultation to each speaker with a package of what you can offer them. For example, “we offer speech coaches that will give you feedback on your presentation, and help with tech enhancements, video, and branding advice.”


7. Skipping rehearsals

There are two types of people: those who want to rehearse, and those who don’t realize they need to…yet. Rehearsal isn’t solely about working out material; it’s also a time to learn about the event space and the technology features available. Rehearsals are also critical for production crews who need to know what’s expected of them, too. These sessions can help answer a number of questions:

  • Does the speaker know how the tech in their presentation works?

  • Is there video in the presentation that the production crew needs to have cued up and ready at a certain time?

  • Is the microphone at the right height? What about the volume?

  • Is there an emcee or other speaker or group that needs to be on stage before or after a speaker?

  • If there is a live band appearing before a speaker, do those two need to interact in any way? Should the band introduce the speaker?

  • What are the lighting cues?

  • Be aware of transitions between events—do speakers know what to do at the end of their talk, specifically, are they introducing the next talk, do they dismiss the audience – what happens next?


Bring Your “A Game” to Your Next Live Event

Returning to live events can be a daunting prospect, and it’s undeniable that the playing field has changed since the start of the pandemic. While much of the working world has returned to a semblance of normal, the live-event space has changed in significant ways. Partnering with Stagedge's team of experts will take your event planning and execution to the next level, ensuring your attendees receive not only a high-quality informational session, but also an experience they won’t soon forget.


Need to transform your events into exciting online experiences?

Get connected with the virtual event experts! Book your Virtual Event Consultation.

Book It