Planning an event is a long process that requires a series of well coordinated actions. Now that you have goals that you’re working towards, you should be thinking of the things you need to do to reach them. To give order to and manage all the things you’ll need to do, create a timeline!
A timeline is meant to help you visualize tasks in the context of time. All events build towards the actual day(s) they take place on, and because of this, time is limited. There is a known amount of work that needs to be completed before the event date, and a timeline can help you ensure that things that need to get done will be completed. In event planning not only are the things you do important, but when you do them is important as well.
Timelines can contain a lot of information, but the main ones are important dates, tasks, and reminders/notes. One method in compiling a timeline is by working backwards from the event date to the present day. Visualize the event day; what it looks like, who is there, what the participants are doing. Now ask how all those things came to be. Did you see a stage? Banners? Were the participants watching a presentation? Starting with the final product will help you determine a lot of the things you need to do. For example, if you know you need to create a presentation, steps to achieve that may include looking for a presenter, making a powerpoint presentation, conducting research for information in the powerpoint, and determining the message you want the audience to receive. From the final result you can extrapolate a lot of useful information. Put all of these tasks in a list in the order in which they need to be completed.
Now that you have an understanding of the tasks that need to be done, you can organize them in the timeline. Making one is like setting many mini goals for your team to achieve throughout the process. For example, one of the mini goals you make can be “Joey will finish the video to show during the presentation by October 19″; a timeline has many of these. Start by marking the date of your event; obviously it is the date where absolutely all tasks need to be completed. Working backwards from that, create deadlines for the rest of your tasks. Of course, some tasks build on top of others, and some can’t be completed before others are completed. Remember this and make sure your tasks are in a logical order. For example, you do not want to print posters before designing them. While you are working with a deadline, keep in mind the amount of time things take to get done. You do not want to start a book donation drive and set the last day to bring in books a week from the day you started it. Nor should you place an order for a banner, and expect it to be hung in the gym by the next day. Tasks should span the entire duration of time you have; you want to make every day count. Keeping in mind logic and considering gaps where tasks take time to be completed, you should have a reliable timeline!
Timelines are best illustrated on a calendar, where the tasks and important dates can all be observed in one glance. As well, this way it is easier to keep track of time. Very often, deadlines and due dates will creep up unexpectedly; keeping a calender as part of the visual helps to prevent this. Google Calendar is a great tool to create a timeline on.
You are now finished laying the foundation for your event; everything from this point forward is action to carry out your plans!