When I travel from one event to another, I see a lot of different ways that events have been planned. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind, that I have noticed, make a successful or a bewildering event
1. ESTABLISH THE OUTCOME: Each event has it’s own purpose and goal and I really do believe this is the first thing that you must write down and keep in mind when you begin planning. Think of who this is for and how it will meet them at the heart.
2. KEEP IT SIMPLE: Keep each 2-3 hour session iin no more than three segments, ie, congregational worship, fun feature/special short testimony and then main guest speaker. General announcements, offering, and Prayer ministry in addition to the three segments are expected during these sessions. However, chopping or breaking an event session into little 15-minute presentations/for several speakers and/or features have proven to be awkward transitioning from segment to segment for the audience and ends up being ineffective, at the end of an evening. (ie: Spring Banquet – new Spring Fashions and Gardening, packed with 3 speakers in a three-hour event). I’ve participated in several events over the course of my 35 years of ministry, and even recently at least three of the women’s events were arranged like this. I watch the audience wonder at merchandise and ministry displays, overwhelmed with a lot of information, stories, but no solid teaching to build a foundation from any of the presentations and no room for personal prayer and ministry at the end. The audience is overwhelmed with perhaps too much visual and verbal information and again, can most likely prevent any audience member from taking away anything that is solid or spiritually meaningful to apply for their own life. In the case of these several events when I was the guest speaker, in the end, just before speaking, I was asked to shorten my message, and it takes away from the impact of the ministry that God can do if we make room for him to move.
3. IT’S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS: Don’t pack too much into an event. An event three hours long with too many “features”, only left 30 minutes to eat for lunch, while a fairly large crowd had to stand in line to get their food at the buffet. It shortens the valuable time for effective ministry and again, it overwhelms the audience with too much structure and not enough meaningful relational experiences. In addition, at retreats, after a guest speaker has given a refreshing word and already closed an evening session, it does no justice to provide workshop activities for attendees after that evening session. Make this a fellowship time by Just have a campfire/coffee time and plan for lights out so that everyone is ready to start fresh in the morning.
4. INVEST WITH CARE: If you have invested in paying a speaker/music artist, be sure that they get the full allotted time that was initially agreed on. You have also taken the time to meet their requirements so that they can provide you with a sparkling and meaningful presentation. Follow tips 2 and 3 above and you won’t feel a need to shorten their presentation time because you’re running out of time. You have paid for them to share their gift/message with your people. This is truly an investment into your people and your guest speaker/music artist needs to have the necessary time to give them the value that you have invested.
5. ADVERTISE: Each member of your committee needs to be involved in personally approaching and encouraging others to attend. You need to begin advertising at least 6-8 weeks in advance. Hang posters, yes, even in the bathroom and put it in the bulletin but don’t stop there. Increase your promotion at the 4-week point with special video presentations, live announcements, as well as an emphasis on getting to know the guest that you have booked. Utilize free community advertising and connect with the local Christian Radio Station. Perhaps you can get your guest an interview or music feature on the air prior to the event. Do you have an advertising budget to run commercials on the local Christian radio station? Will they co-sponsor your event? The bottom line in whatever you do is to give people a taste of the event to make them hungry for more, prompting to attend/buy tickets to your event.
6. APPEAL: Make your theme decor inspiring, encouraging and colourful. The little touches like party favours, centrepieces and lights, among other details, makes your event feel special. It truly takes your event out of the box and makes it extraordinary for those that attend.
7. COMMUNICATE: Back to #1 – Be sure that you make your purpose and goal along with any other expectations, very clear to your guest speaker/music artist, very early in the planning stages. This can truly make or break an event because communication is the key. It can also help determine if your chosen guest will be on the same page as you or they may decide that this is not the right ministry opportunity for them.
8. PLANS DON’T FLY: Don’t fly by the seat of your pants. I’ve often heard some say, “we’re just going to let the Holy Spirit lead and fly by the seat of our pants”. This implies that we haven’t sought the Lord and what He has in mind for this event. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is going to spontaneously make the direction clear during the event? While we may not fully know the depth of his plan, God always provides a vision and direction that includes some understanding of the speaker’s message, implementing special music guest and/or worship music that speaks to the audience. Have a written outline that is flexible.
9. NO SPOTLIGHTS: When you are planning an event that is over the course of several days and includes several featured guest speakers, don’t “spotlight” one of your guests with a single appearance. Rather, engage each guest’s gift and interaction throughout the event at different sessions. This helps the audience to feel comfortable with all guests and stirs interest, allowing all your featured guests to be relational and approachable to individual audience members.
10. PRAY – Prayerfully working through each step of the planning as well as praying corporately before the Lord will bring the guidance, assurance and passion that you need for a successful event.
While these are not the only tips to keep in mind, I hope that they are helpful. I’m trusting the Lord that he will guide you and give you creative, original ideas. He will draw in those who need to be there on that day.
Blessings in Christ,