5 Choices to Make When Planning a Gathering
There is no question that putting together a gathering of great people can lead to all kinds of amazing opportunities, but the effectiveness of the gathering is often affected by the planning of it. A poorly planned gathering can leave you with an empty room, in debt, or worse so it’s important to take the time to think about your gathering before you decide to host it. Here are five choices I always have to make before planning any gathering. I’ll outline both the benefits and the challenges associated with each choice and you’ll notice they usually are pretty even. You’ll want to make choices that align with your goals.
- Open to all vs. Invite only - When I decide to host something this is always the first question I ask. When you decide that you’ll host an event that is open to everyone, you will have to accept the fact that you will have very little control over who shows up. This means that you may end up with guests who do not respect the venue or the host, or guests who cause difficulties. That is one of the risks the open to all choice provides. The upside is that you may meet someone you never would have met otherwise. If you decide to go with an invite only event, you’re looking at a smaller guest list and you are being very specific and deliberate about who you’re inviting. The downside is that you may have people in your network who might be offended if they are not invited, while the upside is that you have full control over who is there and who is not.
- Free vs. Paid – There are many opinions on this one. A free gathering is often attractive for the fact that it’s free, but the downside is that when something is free to attend, there is nothing keeping people from deciding not to show up. Also a free event is never truly “free” either you or a sponsor is footing the bill which is something to be conscious of if you are on a tight budget. Paid events often decrease the likelihood that people will bail, but they sometimes keep people out who are trying to watch their budget. Also when people pay for something they expect to get something substantial for what they pay for. If it looks like you skimped on an aspect of the event, the people who paid will notice.
- Industry specific or Mixed - If you decide to host something specific to your industry it is very clear to people who attend what they are getting. They will expect to see people from their industry and see specific opportunities. The downside is that you may have a room full of people who have met before looking around awkwardly for someone new to talk to. If you decide to host an event with a mix of industries, you’ll be bringing together a very diverse group of people which could lead to some interesting cross collaboration. The challenge with the mixed group is that your may have trouble marketing the event effectively.
- Drinks or “Real” Drinks - If you decide to host an event where there is no alcohol, it will have a different feel than an event where there is. The plus side of no alcohol is that you won’t have to worry about anyone drinking too much and re-enacting This Video with the bartender, the downside may be that you may have some people who attend the event who enjoy an adult beverage now and then who feel left out. The upside of having an event with drinks is that it does encourage more social interaction. Many people feel more comfortable and loose after a drink so it could open people up. The downside again is what happens when one or two becomes 4 or 5.
- Stand up or Sit down? – If you decide to host an event where everyone is standing around, there is a likelihood that your guests will spend more time mingling. The downside is that some people may not enjoy moving around the room and will probably seek out a corner or a place with seats. If you decide to do a sit down event, it’s more relaxed, but your guests may only get a chance to speak with one or two people the whole night.
So as you can see, there are many choices that come up if you decide that you want to host a gathering. Each has its ups and its downs and you’ll have to choose each based on your goals for the event. Taking the time to plan using these choices can help you craft an event that works for you and your guests
And that’s the type of event people will want to come back to.