I've planned, promoted, and hosted dozens of events for Startup Grind Baton Rouge, a local startup community powered by monthly fireside chats, over the last three years.
Every single one of them had their hiccups, as minor as a shortage of chairs to booking conflicts with the venue. It's the nature of running live events. You have to be prepared to make adjustments on the fly to deliver on the experience you've promised.
There have been countless lessons learned on what not to do when planning an event and sharing them would take much more than this essay. But there's one that delivers an outsized impact in event success: establishing an event operating system (OS).
The event OS is your source of systems, tools, and processes that enable the operations behind every event.
Unfortunately, the components of managing an event can be scattered and nuanced. From vendor management to sponsorships to event promotion, every aspect of the event requires a certain level of attention and care.
The good news is that you can set up your own OS and avoid the pitfalls that come with the mess that is event management. To do this, we're going no-code!
In the no-code world, the options for building are endless. I personally have found so much inspiration from Nocode.video where some of the best builders share their work. If you're feeling ambitious, take a look at Aaron Korenblit's video on building an entire event management app in no-code.
Here's your starting point for establishing the right event OS, how to manage tasks, and opportunities for automation.
Start with the "Event Hub"
There are so many moving parts and people, and it can be difficult to keep track of what's going on in more than one place at once. But it doesn't have to be that way. Figuring out how to build an event hub can help you create a central source of truth for you/your team and ensure everyone stays on the same page. Pick a tool that allows for easy access to building frameworks, lists, and integrations. Many no-code tools and productivity platforms now offer forms as a function of the data set you're tracking.
The event hub serves as:
- a home for all your tasks, events details, contacts, and more.
- a playbook for the various processes of running your event.
- a safeguard against "misplacing" important links, copy, or contacts.
Never waiver from the hub, no matter what the one-off shiny tools can do for you. Most tools can connect with each other through integrations (preferably Zapier), but double-check first.
Tools: ClickUp, Notion
Build a master checklist
The master checklist is meant to take as much stress out of the equation as possible by allowing you to see everything that needs to get done at once, so you can break it down into manageable chunks and avoid letting any tasks fall through the cracks. Additionally, consider how your checklist maintains a pipeline - when you're not working on event tasks, you're adding to a pipeline. Whether that's the speakers, sponsors, or partners. You have to find out how far ahead you need to be on your event schedule and work diligently to stay there.
Break up your checklist into three categories:
- Pre-Event - promotion, securing vendors, sponsor outreach, etc.
- Event Day - vendor calls, venue setup, production checks, etc.
- Post-Event - thank you emails, financial review, marketing edits, etc.
Events are chaotic, yet so predictable in their own way. You know you need to book that venue, buy the posters, promote it on social, etc. the checklist is here to centralize the tasks of an event (before, during, and after)
Tools: ClickUp, Hubspot
Identify redundancies, automate, & repeat
A big part of getting more out of your time is harnessing the power of automation and/or preparing yourself to tackle predictable and repetitive tasks. Comms serve as the single biggest lift for event owners. After an event is decided upon, the majority of the communication will be repetitive, ongoing, and vital to your success. People forget what, when, and where your event is. It's your job to consistently remind them and highlight the value of your event. Emails shouldn't be guesswork leading up to the event. You can literally schedule every speaker, sponsor, community, and marketing email well over a month in advance.
Automation starts by asking yourself:
- How often do I do this task?
- Is this task dependent on my approval?
- How many tools interact with this task?
- Does the content or components change from event to event?
There are countless ways to automate. It takes the work upfront to automate, but the return on time is well worth it.
Tools: Zapier, ClickUp
Enjoy your event :)
The event process will never be perfect. From venue conflicts to lack of ticket sales to forgetting plates for the food, you'll always come across potential pitfalls in what you planned vs. how it actually plays out.
But there's nothing wrong with wanting things to go right.
Do your best and remember to enjoy the event you worked so hard to build.
If you enjoyed this essay, give me a follow for more on startups and community:Follow @kasrakhalili