So you want to run an event? 5 classic pitfalls to avoid

5:06 pm Making money, Scanner resources

I know that lots of scanners have ideas for live events – whether it’s a themed party or a speaking event like Scanners Night. So I invited our resident expert and my co-organisor of Scanners Night, Sarada Chaudhuri of Event Detective to give her most essential tips for beginners:

Many, many years ago, when the world entered a new millennium, Britney had just “Done It Again”, and Facebook and Twitter were yet to take the world by storm, I was learning the ropes on how to organise events, with no idea that I’d love doing it so much, it’d turn into a full-time career. But my journey to becoming confident in working with suppliers, fixing an AV disaster at the last minute, and calming down a nervous speaker was paved with its fair share of mishaps and embarrassments…

These days, when I’m not planning an event, I love to show people how to do them. In particular, I can guide you in how to avoid the most common problems that can happen, especially if you’re organising an event for the first time.

Here, I’ve put together a list of the 5 most common pitfalls – yes, they’ve all happened to me too. But more importantly, I’ll show you how to avoid them, so your first event can go smoothly.

Number 5 – Plan? What plan?

Yes, it’s that old cliché – fail to plan and you plan to fail. Yes, it is possible to ‘wing it’, especially with small events, but the problem is that 99% of the time, something will happen that you didn’t quite expect…

So if you’re putting off getting an event plan together because you think it’s complicated, think again. Even something basic will do e.g. date and time of the event, roughly how many people you expect, whether or not you’re providing catering, whether or not you need any technical equipment etc. The beauty of this is that as long as you have a basic outline, you can add to it as you go along.

This is how many event plans and schedules evolve, even for massive live events involving thousands – the more you do them, the more you see the common things you need to include each time, and less chance of things going wrong!

Number 4 – Help! I’m being attacked by a swarm of suppliers!

The common mistake is that you ‘stick a pin in the Internet’ and Google spews hundreds of caterers, AV technicians, venues etc. and you get so overwhelmed, you just pick the first one you come across for an easy life. The trouble is, though, that you rarely get what you want, and can end up seriously out of pocket.

So, before you reach for the computer, take a moment to think about people you/friends/family may already know who can provide you with a venue, food, PA system for a low cost, and who will listen to what you want. Try Twitter, Facebook and Linked In too – you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help.

Number 3 – Do I really have to visit all those venues?

Yes, I’m afraid you do.

When planning an event, the venue is generally your biggest expense, so you want to spend a bit of time making sure it’s the right one. Yes, I know that many venues have lovely websites with dazzling photos, but there really is no substitute for visiting the venue, and getting a feel for it yourself. A photo won’t tell you if the AC works, or if the toilets are nearby, or how far the nearest Tube is (trust me).

Again, if you follow the tips in point 4, you won’t be spending time visiting hundreds of venues for weeks – just start by picking your favourite, and go from there.

The added bonus of visiting a venue? You get to sweet talk the manager into giving you a good deal!

Number 2 – People would be crazy to miss this event! So why is no one signing up?

Do people actually know your event’s happening? You know, it’s so easy to get wrapped in the awesomeness of your event, the magic of your sound-and-light show that your technical friend put together, and the wonderful home-made cookies people will get as they walk through the door, that sometimes we (yes, that has included me) forget the very basic things of actually promoting our event.

And now that we’re in the age of social media, there’s no need to spend a lot, or even any, money on this. Set up a Facebook Event and invite all your friends. Or, if you want to be fancy about it, set up a special Facebook Page. Maybe use a free blogging platform like WordPress or Blogger to put together a basic webpage that tells people the key details like when, where, what, how much etc. And, don’t forget Twitter!

And the cherry on top? Make sure to tell people why they should literally drop everything and rush down. If you’re really proud of some aspect of the event (the cookies, the technical extravaganza) then please let people know! This is no time to be shy…

Number 1 – Well, I’ve been super-organised and booked all the suppliers etc. well in advance. That should be it, right?


Sadly, I’ve been on the receiving end of misunderstandings with suppliers as to exactly how high that balloon sculpture should be, or where the loading bay is. I tell you, the no.1 enemy of successful events is miscommunication.

So, once you’ve had your initial meeting/booking with your supplier, check in regularly as the event draws closer, so you both know what’s going on. It’s also the best way to nip any problems in the bud.

So there you have it. Just keep these things in mind, and you’ll be able to handle most of the things that will crop up in your event.

But hang on. What if there’s more problems that freak you out? Well, don’t worry – you can get more help from me below.

– Sarada

Get more of Sarada’s event tips

Go to and signup for regular free tips on how to avoid event nightmares.

Or ‘Like’ the Event Detective Facebook Page and ask Sarada a question.

And of course, say ‘Hi’ when you next come to Scanners Night!

2 Responses
  1. Jenny :

    Date: December 16, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

    Sarada organised an event for me earlier this year – I must say, it was SO nice to have her expertise to hand.

  2. Sarada :

    Date: February 6, 2012 @ 7:20 pm

    Hi Jenny!

    It was a pleasure working with you – thanks for your kind words!