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Planning a Corporate Event? A Short Guide for Beginners

Building relationships through corporate events, with employees, clients or the media, is a critical business strategy. Planning is key to success, particularly for large meetings: Corporate event planning software makes it easy!     

Corporate events, either virtually or in person, offer personalized opportunities to reach the media, build and nurture critical client relationships and interact internally with employees. Corporate events include:

  • Product launches
  • Introducing important hires
  • Media breakfasts
  • Internal seminars on company policy or benefits
  • Corporate outings
  • Networking events
  • Team building activities
  • Holiday gatherings

Press releases, social media, blog posts, white papers, etc., are important communication tools, but live corporate events offer personal interaction while developing “brand recognition and loyalty … LinkedIn messages, Facebook status updates and tweets cannot replace the meaningful connections made through in-person communication.”    

Size matters

Corporate events are most easily grouped by size:

  • Micro or simple events include 100 or fewer attendees and “often take the form of meetings or more intimate training sessions.” Though small in stature, micro-events demand serious planning.
  • Small events involve between 100 to 250 attendees. “Planners may need to manage a main stage itinerary and several break-out sessions, along with lunch, refreshments, audio-visual facilities, online registration, and transport.” Small events include “seminars, training days or departmental conferences.”
  •  Mid-sized events serve up to 1000 attendees and “could be company-wide conferences … leadership summits for important client customers to meet with senior leaders.” Mid-sized events might include dedicated and branded web pages, social media awareness and off-site accommodations and transportation.
  •  Large-scale events are often multi-day, serve up to 10 thousand convention attendees and will include “offsite activities, dinners, partner programs, an awards ceremony or other complex itinerary planning.” These and midsized events demand comprehensive forethought and serious enterprise-scaled event planning systems.  

Project Management

A flawless event plan can borrow from the basic project management lifecycle:

  1. Initiation
  2. Set goals and objectives: decide the purpose of your event and what you hope to achieve, this might include bringing employees up to speed on a new insurance vendor or running a media breakfast to educate clients on press release best practices.
  3. Identify key stakeholders: Will your CEO be in attendance or your largest client (or both)– what’s your target audience? Do you need to reserve a conference room for the day or an exhibit hall?  Will you design an event website or reach attendees by email or social? Does your event require outside vendors or cross-departmental approvals?
  4. Document all the above in a statement of work (SoW) for stakeholder approval.
  5. Planning
  6. Create a budget:  “Without a budget, costs can quickly spiral out of control and defeat your best laid plans. What is the cost of your space rental, your trade show display, shipping, all aspects of staffing, promotional expenses, lead retrieval and follow up, and at-show services?”

b.Chose the event format: Experts panels, keynote speakers, team events, entertainment, etc.

  1. Put your team together and ensure they have the tools they need. This could include internal and external team members.

d.Consider possible risks, roadblocks and mitigation strategies: if this is an outdoor event, are there indoor facilities? Is there possible transit strikes expected, do you have alternative vendors lined up?

  1. Set a team kick-off meeting: get the team together and clarify processes and responsibilities.
  2. Execution
  3. Hire an event planner if necessary and make sure you utilize event planning software.  

b.Create detailed task charts and timelines for team members, making sure everyone understands their roles and are well trained. Different organizations will have formal or informal PM processes, but organization is crucial.

  1. Create invitee lists and associated collaterals such as ID badges or seating arrangements. Make sure client invites go out at least two weeks before your event.

d.Secure your location. “Keep your budget in mind. Choose a venue that will appeal to your target audience … Moreover, your venue should have a theme that reflects the objective of the event. Choose a valid date by avoiding significant holidays and book the venue days beforehand to avoid any last-minute complications.”

e.Market your event. This could be a company-wide email, press release, dedicated website, social media posts, mobile apps, etc.

  1. Hold your corporate event – the big day arrives!
  2. Closure

Hold a post-event evaluation to see what went well and things that could’ve gone better.   Be honest and open with yourself and your stakeholders. Give yourself and your team the congratulations they deserve.


Large or small, every corporate event is important to the planner and key stakeholders. Utilize corporate event technology, hire professional event planners, stick to your budget, market your event, find the best venue: this will ensure a successful and fun corporate event!