Great events are nearly always the result of the combined time, passion, and the abilities of a dedicated team. However, planning a business, non-profit or educational event with a committee can present its own unique challenges. While the risks may appear remote, taking a few precautionary measures to help ensure minimal debates and avoid work stoppage gives the planning committee the best chance of planning a successful event.
Many business organizations, non-profits and academic institutions embrace this consensual approach most often when it comes to event decision making, and this usually further extends to the event with an event management by committee approach. The intent is noble. However, when it comes time to make decisions for an event, sometimes a committee or team tasked with making decisions collectively can muddy things, and in worst case scenario, cause things to come to a grinding halt. There is no harm in finding a consensus, but with many events there are several decisions to be made. Some are big choices that require conversation, and some are small details that are not worth debating over when there are bigger fish to fry, so to speak.
Select a leader.
The input and assistance from stakeholders and committee members will always be important to consider, but in the end every committee needs a leader who has the authority to make decisions that are true to the goals and the vision of the event. Although, almost as importantly they are the guiding voice that helps communicate the organization’s needs to the vendors they will work with.
This person’s responsibility is not to run over everyone or make decisions willy-nilly, but to make sure that everyone gets their say, is heard, and ensures that decisions are made in a deliberate and organized manner.
Collectively agree on a vision.
Outlining the overall goals and visions of the event will guide the committee to make a decision. It’s always important to consider the main objectives of the event, budget, and intended audience. By agreeing on these elements early on, the committee has a direction and focus which will help avoid getting sidetracked. This information is the foundation of the event and should be known by everyone on the committee:
- Concept of the event
- Purpose of the event
- Tentative costs and event budget
- Time, date, and event timeline
- Target audience/attendees
- What is required of each person on the committee
Always be true to the event’s audience.
Vendors will make recommendations based on what will work best for the event described to them, but ultimately the committee will know their audience best and is able to better determine what is realistic for attendees. It is important to keep the needs of guests and the purpose of the event at the forefront of decision making. It is very easy for committee members to put forth their own personal opinions which may not match the needs of the audience and the organization. With this in mind, it’s fair to say that the leader may get some resistance or pushback from committee members. Always refer back to the purpose of the event, the event’s goals, and how to best serve the audience in attendance.
Funnel all external communication through one or two people.
Once decisions are made it is time to communicate them to the vendors. The best way to achieve this is to have the committee member responsible for that particular task be the point of contact, or have the committee leader be the external contact. Designating certain responsibilities to committee members is unavoidable and usually a great idea to alleviate the overburdening someone with multiple tasks, but if multiple members of the committee are calling on a vendor there is the potential to duplicate efforts and drastically increase the potential for miscommunication. It’s much easier to designate a single contact person, or two at most (who are working closely together and are in constant communication!), to be responsible for external communication.