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The Final Countdown: Event Timeline Creation (Show Notes: Season 2, Episode 7)

This week, we are focusing on one of my personal favorite topics - timeline creation! A timeline sounds like it might be a simple piece of the puzzle, but it is crucial to the success of your event. Depending on the scope of your event, your timeline may be simple - or it could be an extensive, detailed roadmap that offers anyone who reads it the key to successfully bringing your event to life. There are many ways to format this resource, but ultimately - it is up to you and what information you need to convey and the most effective way for you to process it and share it with others.

Your timeline will help you and your team to maintain efficiency in the execution of the event and ensures important elements aren’t missed (such as formalities, a keynote speaker, or a stringent window of time for flipping a room). It will also create priorities and help you to assign responsibilities. Every event host and event planner has their own way of recording and communicating event information to ensure it is processed effectively - however these guidelines will help to identify the important aspects of a timeline and how you can mold them into a document that works best for you!

Consider how to format your timeline. This can be based on your personal preference or on how you know your team will best receive and process the information. Some options for formatting in terms of content include:

  • A timeline only - Something simpler, possibly with just a list of times with events happening at each time

  • A timeline with some detail - This might include information about key people, locations, and events along with the basic timeline.

  • A full detail sheet - This document would outline all pertinent vendors and contacts with contact information and responsibilities outlined, description of event locations and layouts, list of rental items per each applicable event, other pertinent details such as order of speakers/speeches, as well as a minute-to-minute timeline.

What do you use to create your timeline?

  • A timeline in its simplest form can be created in a Word Document

  • For a more Detailed document, you can use Excel

  • For a more detailed document that includes collaboration, Google Sheets or a Google Doc are great resources that allow you to invite collaborators to edit what you create so that the document can be as up-to-date as possible.

The next step after determining the format of your timeline, will be to outline the content that will be incorporated into it. This may include timing, important contacts, responsibilities, and other specific details. Then it’s time to put everything down in one place. The steps from there are:

  • Choose a format that communicates information effectively to you and your team; by ensuring everyone has access to the information needed to move your event forward, you guarantee your success.

  • Incorporate the non-negotiables (i.e. dining timing), this guarantees that you include the major aspects of the event first so they have priority against the smaller less important pieces.

  • Create multiple drafts of your timeline! This should be a living breathing document that is not complete until the day or so prior to the event.

  • Include buffer time in case the event does not run on time - it happens more often than you would think.

  • Create a Plan B - emergency plan - in case things go wrong! When you are prepared for anything that can happen, you ensure the success of the event regardless of the circumstances!

This week I focused on the details of crafting your day-of event timeline, however it can also be helpful for you to create a planning timeline (or project management plan) that outlines the deadlines and progress requirements for your planning process. This might include target dates for securing a venue or vendors, when your menu must be solidified or when invitations must be sent to attendees. This can be an important resource to ensure that the planning process stays on track and achieves milestone goals in an appropriate amount of time to guarantee a successful event.

No matter what type of event you are planning, a timeline is a crucial factor to achieve success. There can never be too much information included and honestly - the more information you incorporate, the more prepared you and your team will be to execute a seamless, well-planned event. I always say - you are only as good as the information you have available to you - so make sure to communicate the most important information in your timelines!

Continue the conversation and ask your questions by joining the How To Event Facebook Group.

Or you can keep up with us on Instagram by following @HowToEvent.

Season 2, Episode 8 will debut on September 17th, 2020! This season we are focusing on Event Basics and each week I will review a new foundational event topic to help you get started with your planning process.

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