I stumbled upon planning and organising events by chance. I recall when I decided to organise the first Women in PR Ghana Summit in 2017, I had a lot of doubts and fears I had to conquer. I wondered if I would be able to organise this event because I had no experience in organising events. I reached out to some close friends in the industry and sought their counsel and encouragement and viola I thought I was ready!
The first year was tough and I made some mistakes and learnt some hard lessons.
I remember a few days to the summit, one of the Speakers reached out and was very upset that I didn’t communicate to her that it was a paid event and she threatened to issue a statement to dissociate herself from the event. I had to go and apologise personally to her but she insisted she wouldn’t show up. That first event thought me alot of lessons till date.
So, below I’ll share my six (6) lessons I’ve learnt in the last 6 years planning and organising Women in PR Ghana Summit.
Lesson 1 Start with choosing an appropriate Date
When planning an event, always look out for an appropriate date that would fit your event. Always take note of holidays, and other events that may also be happening on that same day especially if your target audience is similar to theirs. I noticed that anytime we choose date a where the Friday or Monday would be a holiday, attendance becomes a problem. This is because when it’s a long weekend, people are likely to travel out of town for holidays than they would ordinarily plan for a professional event.
Setting a date is critical in planning for an event. The initial date I had then was March and then I postponed it a few times and then finally came to the conclusion to have it on 1st July, 2017. Once I was sure of that date, I started engaging speakers, vendors and organisations. Once you have a date in mind, it helps you to start working towards it, it helps you to start engaging all the vendors you’ll need.
Lesson 2 Be Clear and straightforward in your Communications
There are various people you would be communicating with when you start planning your event. For instance if it’s a Conference or Summit, you would start engaging Speakers and Experts to speak at your event. Make sure you’ve stated all the details in the email invitation. Constantly update them from time to time to keep them up to speed with preparations. Failing to communicate clearly with them about the event can bring issues. If it’s a paid for event, do let them know and if there’s any form of renumeration, it would also be best to let them know.
Lesson 3 – Always Contact Your Special Guests or Speakers again to remind them especially when the date is almost near
This is very important! Although you may have sent out your invitations to them and they may have confirmed that they would be available, put it on your to-do to check back and remind them when the date is near. I have had instances where people I sent out invitations to, completely forgot because I did not send a reminder or follow up so they made other plans. This can affect the plans of your event.
Lesson 4 – People Take Free Events for Granted so always have a plan B
I learnt that along the line. Once its free, they know they can decide anytime not to show up and it doesn’t affect them in any way. What they forget is that, although its free, it is being funded through other sources such as private or corporate sponsorship. The best you can do is inform the planner you cannot attend so they give the slot to someone else. Even if it’s a ticketed or invitation only event, try as much as possible to call, send a message and remind your guests. Yes, sometimes it may look like you are being a nuisance but confirming their participation will be of great help.
Lesson 5 – Don’t assume everyone sees and knows about the details of the event
While you would be busy sharing and people are watching or liking, very few people pause to actually take note of important details. I noticed this through some of the questions people ask like, when is the event, what time is it, where is the event etc. Meaning they have not paid attention nor have made plans for the event. In situations where you would have expected that these people would show up, they wouldn’t because they have no plans attending. If you really want these people to attend the event, you would consider sending them personal invitations before they would honour it. Ghanaian’s like to feel special so if you want them to attend, send them personal or customized invitations 😁.
Lesson 6: How people complain the event didn’t close early yet they didn’t show up early.
We all know if you are having an event which is supposed to go live at the start of the event requires that at least you also have a good number to start with. In many situations, people assume that the event wouldn’t start early so they themselves would show up late, yet would be quick to indicate in their feedback form that the event ended late. Here in Ghana people who show up early for an event feel like they have been punished because everyone seem to be waiting for the latecomers. Unless incases of technical issues, it would be ideal to start the event early so those who come in late loose out so hopefully next time, they would come in early. But well, we use “Ghana time” as an excuse to come in late or start late assuming people won’t come early. Some go to the extent of even having a public time and internal time.
So these are some of the few lessons I’ve learnt so far. I’m still on a learning journey and hoping to master this craft of bringing professionals and people together to connect and build longterm relationships. Is there any experience you would want share, drop it in the comment below.
Thank you for passing through!