Kudos to Dr. Cathy Key for a superb article (“Are you an Event Planner or an Event Doer?”) published recently by Event Manager Blog.

“Every event has so many moving parts that it is easy for Event Planning to turn into Event Doing,” she wrote. “But the danger with all of this doing is that we can lose sight of why we are hosting the event in the first place and what success really means.”

Dr. Key makes some powerful points:

  • Planning starts with strategic and creative thinking about what you want the event to achieve. Then, based on the event plan, you create a plan—a roadmap to success. This happens before you do anything else—including booking the venue.
  • Her planning model consists of defining audience segments, deciding what kind of experience you want each group to have at the event, creating a central theme, and defining how to fulfill your desired outcome.
  • Close monitoring of the plan makes it a compass for keeping everything on track and assuring success for you and your attendees.

The bottom-line in Dr. Key’s post is simple: Don’t dive into event tactics until you’ve thoroughly planned, refined and vetted the event strategy.

In several posts on this blog, I’ve covered similar ground. For example, this post—Keep asking ‘What’s the problem?’ — drilled down on the most important part of the event planning process: building a consensus on who are we inviting, what challenges they are facing, and what would incent them to attend.

It’s a message all event planners have heard time and again. But, if we’re going to be measured ourselves by the results we produce, we need to keep hearing that message. As you read this, another category of experts is rehearsing fundamentals they know extremely well, too. Football players at high school, college and professional levels throughout America are practicing two prerequisites for scoring: blocking and tackling.

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