The basics of planning public events

How do you plan a public event?

Event Management

First ask yourself..


When risk issues are addressed in the community consultation and planning process, ensure you are also well positioned to include the positive benefits and opportunities. Issues that contribute to enjoyment and success are:

•    entertainment and activities

•    good information and communications

•    positive media reporting

•    good coordination

•    safe and secure locations

•    good health and welfare facilities

•    transport arrangements

•    sponsorship

 •     volunteers


Many things can go wrong that are beyond your control. It is your job to think of these things before the event and either prevent them, or prepare for them. Most of us know this, and we know that's why we have plans, schedules and risk assessments. But what about you?

As the event organiser, you can also increase the likelihood of things going wrong when you:

·      tries to do everything themselves

·      forgets people need guidance

·      forgets people can look after themselves

·      assumes things - hope/should be alright

·      isn’t prepared or organised


Then get organised with more questions...


Coordinating even the smallest event can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Save yourself as much time and money as you can by being prepared, planning properly and not wasting time doing things you don't need to do (like creating event management tools from scratch).

And BEFORE deciding to go ahead with an event - ask yourself some key questions...

After answering the questions below, you may find that an event is not the best way to achieve your objectives, or that the resources required to successfully coordinate the event are not available. Or you might feel comfortable that it's all fine and you should proceed. It's about you being confident to go with what is right.


•      What is the aim of your event? What do you want to achieve by staging it (e.g. raise money for a charity; create a sense of community; celebrate a special occasion)?

•      Where will your event be held? Will there be any costs associated with hiring the venue or using a public space?

•      Who do you want to come to your event?

•      Do you know how to reach those people and tell them about your event?

•      Do you have the resources to publicise your event to the right target audience?

•      What approvals will you need to run your event?

•      What plans will you need to prepare such as event management or traffic management plans?

•      What resources will you need to run a well-managed event, and do you have access to these?

•      What will it cost to stage the event? Do you have a budget for the event, and what are your revenue sources?

•      What other events are being staged at the time you propose to hold your event?

•      Will the event pay for itself, for example through ticketing or sponsorship, or will it be free?

•      Is your ideal venue available and if not, do you have a list of alternatives?

•      How will everyone get there? What transport should be arranged?

•      What if it rains? What if it's really hot?

•      What are the crowd management issues? Will security be required? Who can provide security?

•      Are there likely to be any noise issues associated with the event?

•      What can be done to ensure there is minimal impact on the community and area immediately adjacent to the event?

•      Who takes away the waste that will be generated at this event?

•      Who can supply food at the event? How will drinking water be supplied at the event?

•      How will everyone know what their role is?

•      Are there other steps that need to take to ensure appropriate levels of child protection?

•      How will appropriate insurance cover be ensured? What are the risks with volunteers? What insurance is needed for hired equipment?

Getting the most from your expo stand

I thought I’d put together a few words of advice and a short ‘checklist’ to help you refine your plans for the expo so you get the best possible return for your effort.

The trick is to remain focused on the WHY and check that all aspects of your activity at the expo lead back to fulfilling WHY you are there.

The Why?

You are there to convey a message, to meet the right people and to initiate future contact with them.


1. Reminders about the expo and its visitors

  • Patrons are going to the expo because they have a need/problem/questions – and they are looking for a solution and answers
  • The expo is a live marketing event – you are there to show the visitors your message 
  • An expo stand should have a clear message - be it a concept or idea – at a glance visitors should know what that message is
  • Remember to build up to the ‘personality’ of your business
  • Consider the challenges of exhibiting in a crowded space with noise, lights and distractions
  • Expos stands are just wall and lights, which is not interesting. It will be the images, people and props that begin to convey the dynamic experience of you business
  • You have approximately 2 seconds to capture their attention, and if successful… 30 seconds before they form their impression
  • And finally…. Keep smiling and enjoy it. You are potentially welcoming a new friend and neighbour into your life.


2. Checklist review of the impact of your stand

  • Do you know why you are at the expo? Do your stand attendants?
  • What ideas are they taking away with them? What are they literally taking away with them?
  • Does everyone know what they are doing?
  • Does everyone know what they are saying?
  • How has it achieved the visitors’ objectives?
  • Have you tested the technology? Test it again.
  • Match your take-away marketing collateral to your conversation and to your stand display. People will recognise and remember the ‘signposts’ you give them when they read the collateral later.
  • What is your big IDEA? What’s in it for visitor?
  • Are you chatting with your visitors as a potential friend/neighbour/relative?
  • The information you are presenting - does it address the concerns in their lives? Do you answer their burning questions?
  • How much tiny detail do you have in the presentation? Remember, visitors don’t care about that too much at this stage and it’s tough to present detail in such a short timeframe.
  • What do YOU want from the visitors? You can control and manage that so think about the questions you are asking them. Have a secret checklist.
  • How are you going to look after your stand attendants? It’s a long day, what do you have to treat them and have you ensured they have scheduled breaks and food to sustain their energy and enthusiasm for each day?
  • Equipment and presentation material and props? Are they practical? Are they logical? Are they creative? Are they big picture? Are they appealing? Are they colourful?
  • What could go wrong at the expo and what is your contingency?
  • Set up time? Pack down time? Have you thought about each step of your daily logistics?
  • What will you do if someone is rude/ offensive? Do you have appropriate personalities who will look after each other at the stand?
  • What will you do if you are asked a question and you don’t know the answer? How will you get the answer? Will it be on the spot? Who can you call? Do you have the internet?
  • Are you ready to invite visitors to the Open Day? How are you communicating that? When will you tell them about it? How will you make it appealing? Worth the drive?
  • If there is ONE thing you want the visitor to remember, what is it? And how are you making sure they remember it?


If you found this useful, you will probably benefit from further Event Kit coaching and 1:1 mentoring. Feel free to give me a buzz and we can continue this conversation...


Rachella x

How do I become a great event manager?

Whenever I've given lectures to event management students , I'm always asked the same question....

Let's cut to the chase. Here's the answer: YOU

How you become a great event manager is by being you. Your best teacher is always you. It's YOUR experiences that give you the answers.


What do I mean by that?

If you've ever attended an event and thought good or bad things about, then YOU have started the process of learning.

There are a million possible ways to organise an event. There are a million things I end up telling students and event mentorees about how to organise events ... But there is one important point that I always make.

Your best teacher is you.

It's a deceptively simple idea. But it works.

Think about it... you already know what makes a great event, and what makes one bomb. You have all the answers and clues because you've experienced it all first hand whenever you've attended an event. You have seen what NOT to do. You have experienced what DEFINITELY NOT to do... and hopefully you've enjoyed what TO DO.

You've experienced it all before you even began to think about organising your own event or becoming an event manager.

I can guarantee at some point in your life you've chatted to your mates about how they could be done better if only they'd done THIS more and THAT less. There you go. That was you teaching yourself.

Now of course you've probably realised that gives you the ability to think about what you want your events to be, but it doesn't help your event management skills. Don't freak out - that's where I have you covered. Get yourself the event management tools you need and away you go...


But before then...

let's sharpen your event manager mind with this exercise I give my mentoring clients:

"Think about your most memorable and favourite event experience (as an event attendee, not organiser)...

Now think about the worst event experience you’ve had...

Now ask yourself, "what made it so good?" "what made it so bad?"


List them out.

See what patterns emerge.

What could they have done better? What do you remember most. Keep this list close by whenever you're planning an event. 

Rachella Thomas x

5 questions ask before you start any event

Instead of telling you a bunch of things, I'm going to let you do the thinking.

Use this as an exercise for your own event development... see what you come up with!


1.  Why plan an event?


2.  What is the purpose of the event?


3.  Who is your target audience?


4.  What goals do you want to achieve?


5.  What outcome would you like?



Tips for future event managers

So you want to be an event manager. Great.

If you learn nothing from me, remember these free pearls of wisdom. It took me years to learn these tips, and I did it the hard way. Through trial and (usually embarrassing and stressful) error....

1.    Use your own event (attendance) experience. Become a critic. Always watch what others do and learn from their successes and mistakes. You are your best teacher.

2.     Never assume. Don't assume something will happen or that someone knows something. They MAY not. Until you know, you don't know. Always confirm. Never assume.

3.     Don’t reinvent the wheel. If it exists and you can use it. Get it. Save your time and worry. Use templates.

4.     Always seek the advice and guidance of others. Get yourself a mentor.

5.     Keep organised. Don't think you'll update thosedocuments later, when you have more time. You'll never find that time. Always stay ahead of your paperwork with good event management tools.

6.     Get lasting evidence of your amazing work. Event's are ephemeral. Take photos and video. Keep programs and posters. And ask for testimonials.

7.     Provide quality essentials. It doesn't matter how good your program is, the key to really winning people is good food, clean toilets and easy crowd flow.

8.     Keep yourself sane. Remember it's just an event and not brains surgery. Stuff-ups are inevitable and it's OK. it's not the end of the world. It really is a learning opportunity.

...and enjoy yourself. Always enjoy yourself. Relax and be kind to yourself.


Rachella Thomas xx

What are 3 problems you always face when organising an event?

I was asked this question on Quora recently and thought it was so great, I decided to share my answer here too!


What are 3 problems you always face when organising an event?

  1. Clients assumption that event management is easier, quicker and cheaper than it really it
  2. Attendees/audience assumption that event management is easier, quick and cheaper than it really it
  3. Me knowing that event management is never as easy, as quick or as cheap as everyone else thinks it is!



Rachella Thomas

What are my top 5 tips for getting into the event marketing industry?

I was recently sent a request to answered this question on Quora

  1. Explain it. Be clear about the terminology and definition of this niche of the event industry - so lets be clear right now, it’s:

Engagement marketing, "experiential marketing," "event marketing," "on-ground marketing," "live marketing," or "participation marketing," is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand. Engagement marketing

  1. Observe it. Now you know what it is, look around you. What examples can you find? What experiential marketing have you personally experienced? Become familiar with how often people experience it - and don’t even realise they are experiencing it! (I always advise my event mentoring clients, that “your own event experience is your best teacher”).
  2. Research it. Next step is to gather information. Who are the companies that run experiential marketing events? How do you find out? Go up to them and ask! Check out their collateral. Do Google searches for ‘experiential marketing companies in (type in your city)’.
  3. Work it. Now to the guts of it. You want to get into the industry. That means you want to work in it, and here is where you reality check comes in. It’s likely you’re not going to stroll on in as a senior event manager. So look low and look likely - what low level job are you likely to get? Probably promotions/customer service assistant. Try to get a front line job. Or if you want to stay behind the scenes, go for an event administration assistant… The plan is to enter low-level and work your arse off to prove you have what it takes.
  4. Enjoy it. It’s a fast-paced, hard-work, competitive industry and there is no point jumping in unless you really enjoy it. So take time to enjoy it!



Rachella Thomas

Event ideas for a farewell party

You might be graduating students, or leaving an old job. Whatever the reason, you've got a farewell party booked in the dairy. What to do????


Don't panic. Let’s consider what you are trying to achieve. It is a celebration and a farewell, so you will want it to be fun and memorable.

So let’s keep those things in mind… fun and memorable.

What’s fun?

Music - get some instruments out and play some music together, or pre-arrange a flashmob dance.. get people up and dancing and singing

Short skit - are there writers amongst you? because you have stories to tell. write a short comedy skit about the funny things that happened during your course

Dress-up - even if you’re going to have lunch in a public place like a restaurant or public park, how about you choose a theme and dress-up. It will certainly make you all laugh and be a great conversation piece.

What’s memorable?

It will be memorable if you have fun and have a good time. It doesn’t really matter what you do, being amongst friends is the thing you’ll remember.

So capture those memories. Do it in new and interesting ways - put down the iPhone and snapchat - grab a real film camera. Take real photos and wait to get a great surprise when you get the film developed.

Memory book - get everyone to sign in your memory book. Messsages of happiness, good luck, great memories… and of course, email addresses!


My most important advice: don’t over complicate your event. It’s an occasion that should be focused on friends, laughter and making happy memories. It shouldn’t be a day when you’re stressing over how your event is running. If you do still want to organise a big event, feel free to get some more advice and event management tools from the Event Kit. Enjoy!


Rachella Thomas