How to organise a successful event

24 November 2015


How to organise a successful show

We all love a party! At least I do and I also like organising parties. Whether it is a music concert, a wedding, or a cocktail party, I love it when people have a good time at an event that I organised. There are a couple of rules I set for myself that I like to share with you. You can use the Ws for this: What, why, where, when and who.


First it is important to make difference between public events and closed ones. Everyone can turn up at public events and you probably want it to be busy. The event can be free for people to attend or you can sell tickets. The more people show up, the better, so you have to advertise: promote your party so people know it’s on and that they are welcome to attend.

For a closed party you send out invitations and only people with an invite are welcome. That can be a wedding, a birthday party or even a conference or the opening night of an exhibition. There is not need for promotion, but still you have to think about marketing and do research into prices, what you want to offer (product), what is the best venue for the occasion (place) and you ‘promote’ to a select group of invitees only.

Also think what you dong. Don’t just copy other events, but try to make it original; be creative! That will attract a crowd and make people talk about your event, which is what you want if you want people to know who you are.


What is the reason to give a party or organise a show? As always, I recommend SMART objectives.

S – specific: What exactly are you offering? What is the product (or service) you want to present to your guests/visitors? ‘A big show’ is vague, because what is big? Do you mean big with number of attendants? Big because of big sound and light? Big because you are going to have many guest speakers or a lot of bands playing? Or big because you want everybody to talk about it? Try to think about what exactly makes it big.

M – measurable: When is it a success? If you organise a charity event, is it a success when you have a lot of visitors attending, or when you reach your target for donations? If you want to create awareness for a good cause, is it a success when everybody is dancing to the music, or when you know that a lot of people go away after the party with knowledge about the cause? If you want to launch an album, are you happy with a full room, or do you want to get at least 5 write ups in the press and/or sell at least 20 albums on the night?

A – achievable: Can you do it with the resources you have? If you have no money but you need to rent equipment, hire technicians, arrange transport for everyone and spend (transport) money for journalists and other artists performing… can you do it? Do you have the time to do promotion on social media? Do you have the skills to write press releases? Do you have the network to spread the word? Do you give yourself enough time to organise everything?

R – realistic: without resources, it might be a challenge. How realistic is it to think you will sell more than 100 tickets? What makes you think you can earn back the money for the DJ and equipment you have to hire? Do you really think it is possible that the press will pick up your show? Don’t worry, there are plenty of opportunities and it will work as long as you have realistic targets, based on research.

T- time bound: When do you want to do it? Not during the rugby finals or on a day that Manchester plays Liverpool perhaps. How much time do you need to organise your wedding? Make a planning; use phases (like explained before) with milestones, so you have set moments when you decide to continue as planned, make some changes or perhaps cancel the event. If you want to book artists, you might need to sign a contract at an early stage. If you have your mind set at a certain venue, make sure it is available and take an option as soon as you have a date. If you need to rent equipment or hire technicians, make sure they are available.


Deciding on the venue is something you need to consider at an early stage. Do you want it indoors or outdoors? What about logistics? A festival at the lake means that all supplies have to be transported to the site and you have to calculate for fuel and renting trucks. Do people spend the night on or near the site or can they walk? Can you reach it by public transport? Is it safe for girls to travel there on their own?

It is also advisable to think what facilities the venue has. Do they have a stage, sound system, bar, toilets? If not, you might have to rent all these facilities; if they have, how much will they charge for you to use it? Is security included? Can you put gates around it to stop people sneaking in without paying? Does the site provide shade or cover against the rain?

And what about the look and feel of the place. What do you need to do to make it look the way you want? Does it suit your theme or do you have to decorate it to make it your dream location for your wedding?



Several things you can keep in mind when picking the date. Payment day might be important, as people have more money to spend at the end of the month. Everybody knows that, so there might be many shows at the end of the month, meaning there can be a lot of competition and people can have a lot of choices where to go. Also look at big sports events, as you don’t want to clash with big football matches (or you have to show them). Do you want rain or sunshine? Hot or cold weather? Is it smart to organise it around Christmas or better not – it all depends on your target group.



Last but not least: who is your target group? For a wedding it are your friends and family. For a seminar it might be academics from the region. For a music show you would love everybody to come, but that is not realistic. For your promotion, you always have to focus on a target group. Who is most likely to like your music? Young girls, guys in their twenties, international tourists, local people from the villages, students, parents with young children…? The choice is yours! But I recommend you make a choice. The fact that you think young girls probably like your music most doesn’t mean that a woman of 45 is not welcome or that guys cannot come. It might be international tourists who are most likely to buy your album, so you can target both young girls and tourists. If you want girls to come to your show, perhaps you should choose a safe location where they can get to easily. If you want students to come, maybe you can give student discount and use your tour bus to provide free transport between the university and the venue. If you want tourists to come, advertise at lodges all over the country. If your target group is local villagers, make sure you invite the chief and go to the village to tell people about your event.