clock Never underestimate the value of taking the effort to create a timeline for your event. As well as keeping everyone on track, a timeline created effectively will ensure you do not miss any important deadlines.
A good timeline is not simply a long to-do list, but a schedule of key tasks and dates clearly defined and easy for anyone involved to use.
Creating effective timelines is second nature to experienced meeting planners and event organizers. Read on for tips on how you can also create a fool proof timeline for your next event.
As additions, deletions and updates will undoubtedly need to be made to your timeline, you need to make sure it’s set up in a system that is easy to manipulate. You might choose a table format in Word, spreadsheet in Excel or through a project management system.
Consider what type of timeline you will need for your event. If it’s a timeline that only you will be referring to, then it may be just a list of key dates or milestones. For example deposits due, mailing dates, meetings and confirmations of catering, venues and accommodation.
If there are other people involved, you may need to consider a far more comprehensive list which may include every task to be carried out, completion date of task, who will be responsible for the task and contact phone numbers of suppliers.
More Timeline Inclusions
Key tasks and dates need to be included in any timeline. Having a “brain-dump” of tasks that need to be included is a good idea as a starting point. Examples include:
Prepare the budget
Assign responsibility for tasks
Submit a request for proposal (RFP) to venues, transport companies, audio visual production etc
Conduct site visits
Speaker research and selection
Development of marketing plan
Development and printing of event collateral e.g. invitations, support materials and evaluation forms
Confirm audio visual requirements
Develop event running order
Brief staff involved
Post-event follow-up e.g. evaluation form returns, debriefing venues and other suppliers and post-event report
Listing your timeline by category may be useful particularly for larger events so the tasks are easily viewed and managed.
Deadlines and Milestones
It can often be useful to start at the date of your event and work backwards when defining deadlines. Identify all deadlines and due dates from venues and other suppliers as early as possible and incorporate them into your timeline. From this you can base other tasks around these dates.
Some deadlines have room for movement, where hard deadlines will not. Consider using colours, bold and larger font to quickly identify different deadlines and key tasks. Perhaps you could use red for urgent or non-negotiable deadlines, blue for less important tasks and deadlines and black for supporting tasks.
Keeping on Track
Meet or check progress of tasks with your staff and suppliers who are working on your event as regularly as possible. The timeline you have created provides you with a valuable tool to reinforce the deadlines to all involved as well as helping you to see the big picture.
Ultimately, a timeline that is effectively put together will steer you safely into the direction of a successful event. It will help you and all involved stay focused and ensure that tasks are complete before the deadlines. Share your timeline with all involved in your event and make updates to timelines as they happen.
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