Event planner’s guide: How big events differ from small ones

So for all those event planners out there, I wanted to put something comical together that would ring true for all of us, give us a laugh, but then also shed some light for third parties, giving them a bit of an insight into the world of event planning. So with that in mind, I’ve created a short list of ways in which big events are different from small ones. There are more differences than just the amount of customised t shirts. I hope this is, if nothing else, an enjoyable read.

1. Big events beget bigger events

If you’ve ever handled the organisation of a big event, then you know that you’re doing two things. First, you’re preparing with excel spreadsheets some really hefty logistical support. Second, you’re preparing materials for re-use next year, or whenever the event planner needs to get on top of things for the follow-up.

Small events are generally all about a confined occurrence. A birthday party. A wedding. A local bowler’s club gathering. Big events, on the other hand, more often than not deal with something recurring. So we’re talking about a company Christmas party, a music festival, an annual marketing drive. The point here is that for event planners, we need to take count of the pros and cons of this events, to get ready for the next one, which will most likely be even bigger.

2. Small events mean micromanaging

When it comes to organising events, the smaller it is, the more the event planner is the sh*t. What I mean to say is that there’s more time to join the ranks of the caterers, the sound men, the security or whoever else. We become micromanagers not only of our people but of ourselves as well. We have the same amount of time to organise the little event as we do the big event, but as event planners, e like to get a taste of all the peculiarities anyway.

how big events differ from small events

Big events are much more exhaustive. With the same amount of time at hand, we have to push out an incredible amount of processes to ensure that our big event goes off without a hitch. But more work means more delegation, so most event organisers know that a big event means a lot of ordering people around. The stress levels might run high, but hell if we’re going to let those printed tshirts get here late!

3. A big event means more e-mailing

There are more people involved in a big event, so event organisers need to be juggling multiple channels of communication at once. This means a lot more e-mailing. Studies have shown that most wasted time in the office is due to e-mailing, whether you’re doing the reading or the writing. So take our advice: if you’re an event organiser preparing a big event, make sure you have an administrative assistant to help handle communications. If you don’t, then at least invest in some a useful event planning tool to help cipher the urgent from the superfluous.

4. Smaller events require less time to prepare

Yeah you heard that right. A lot of people might disagree with this. They’ll say that if you have enough workers, you can get everything up and running in the same amount of time that it takes to start up a small event. They’d be right and wrong, but let me know explain why they’d be wrong. Event organisers are keen on Murphy’s Law: if something seems like it’s going to happen, it probably will. Bigger means more, and that includes time. Try to fight against this general rule and you’ll be running your event into a brick wall. Event organisers and event planners are masters at plan B, and plan C schemes. Accommodate the likelihood of failings, give yourself extra time to set up, and don’t let the budget keep you down.

5. Things that go wrong at small events aren’t the same as those that go wrong at big events

At a small event, you won’t have the same shortcomings as you’ll find at bigger events. What’s funny is that there’s a weird correlation between the kinds of problems at big events, and the kinds of problems at small events. Event organisers, back me up!

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few examples. At a small event that I helped organise for a local brewing company–it was a marketing push at a local park, the thing that went wrong was that there were too many people showing up. At a big event, it seems like you’re more prepared to handle such numbers. Maybe it’s because you expect it to be just that: big. At a small event, maybe event planners naturally underestimate the attendance. Lesson learned? RSVP!

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Printsome is an online t-shirt printing UK business, delivering shirts for your next big event from Grimsby to Burnley. We love writing about event organising, T-shirts and creative marketing.



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