This guest blog is written by a dear friend, coworker, and my supervisor, Preston Tippett. Preston has worn many hats in the WinShape College Program including Event Planner, Small Group Leader, Event Specialist, and now serves as a Coordinator of Programming.
Everyone who works around us thoroughly enjoys laughing at our dynamic as Preston is definitely the “how” to my “wow”. While I am most excited to meet new people and dream up new ideas, Preston keeps us grounded, on track, and productive. Below he shares practical insights on planning repeatable events!
As a ministry leader of students, you know very well how often events take place. All. The. Time. As soon as one is finished, your focus and energy shift to what is next on the calendar. Often, you are forced to think about and plan for multiple events simultaneously.
I’m here to give a few thoughts about how you can go about planning for events in a way that could alleviate your future to-do list. Because let’s be honest, who wants to reinvent the wheel or duplicate work every time you gear up for an event? Me neither! Below are five essentials for creating repeatability in planning events.
- Have a trackable task management system, something that you can refresh and reuse each time.
Ideally, this system should track how far out from the event (days, weeks, or months) you need to complete the task. Once you input that information for each particular task, you won’t have to take the time to think about when you need to do that certain task, nor are you feeling overwhelmed in looking at every task that needs to get done for the event to happen. Rather, the system is reminding you when you need to complete that task. I recommend your system to have a filtering or ordering option, where you can select which parts you want to view based on how far out from the event that task is to be completed.
- Know your budget.
We are called to be good stewards of what is entrusted to us. Planning events usually comes with stewarding a good bit of money and using that money wisely. It is important that you keep track of how much you are spending throughout the planning of your event. The benefits to tracking your spending are twofold: you know on the latter end if you spent more or less than you were allotted, and you have a very accurate estimate of how much to allot for each line item the next time around. I would recommend not just tracking the overall amount spent, but know how much you spent on each individual aspect of the event. Break it down as specifically as you can.
- Take notes!
Have you ever had a great idea and think, “There’s no way I’ll forget that, that’s too good of an idea,” only to later have no recollection of it? One of the easiest ways to limit your ability to create repeatable events is to forget what you’ve done before. This might sound slightly like the part above regarding task management, but the difference here is not just knowing the task that needs to be done, but knowing how to go about completing that task. Let’s say, for example, that you used an outside vendor to provide supplies for your event and you would love to use them again. You would want to take note of that company’s name, the specific vendor’s name and contact information, as well as any additional notes about the specifics of what you did.
Bottom line: take note of how you completed tasks, and create a reminder in your task management system to review those at the start of your next event.
- Evaluate and refine.
This step is crucial if you want to create repeatable events and maximize your efforts. If you don’t evaluate what you are doing, how would you ever know if you are creating the best version of what you are doing? Don’t just do it the same exact way year after year. You could be left with designing your programming around a theme to a TV show series that none of your students have context to because it’s that outdated (yes, my team has made that mistake). I’m not saying that you shouldn’t strive to replicate what you do year after year, but rather to do so with discretion. Essentially, you should schedule time after each event to sit down with your team and evaluate what you believe went well and what needs to be improved. I have a practice of creating a new note in my phone during events where I can quickly jot down anything that comes to mind in the realm of tweaking, improving, or removing. This helps me when I come to the team’s evaluation meeting, as I can pull up that note and see the list of items I think should be reconsidered to make better.
The second step to evaluating is refining. The reason for evaluating is to know the areas that need refining. Use the energy and momentum from your evaluation meeting to put the refining into action.
- Celebrate! This isn’t necessarily a tip for planning for repeatability, but it is an important step that, surprisingly, can easily be overlooked. After you’ve accomplished your event and evaluated its success, it can feel natural to simply move on to the next event that needs attention. However, I would highly encourage you to schedule time for you and your team to celebrate the completion of your event. Set aside a specific time in your calendar for your team to enjoy a meal together or create a shared experience. Be sure to clarify the connection between the accomplishment and the celebration. Celebrating with your team is a great way to create a natural close to the event you have just planned and executed.