Six years ago I decided to take the next step in my career and I became an executive assistant to a team in a mid sized accounting firm. Life was good, and the pay was a huge step up from my former office job. About a month into the position, my boss just happened to mention in passing that they we would be holding an in-house seminar and that I would need to organise and host a function for around 45 staff, customers and suppliers. My efficient self smiled and said “no problem” whilst my inner ditzy self let out a moan of distress.
What did I know about organising an important event? Absolutely nothing. The funny thing is that because my boss said it had to be done, I somehow managed it. Whilst the actual function may have only been a moderate success, the experience gave me some valuable experience in the do’s and don’ts of organising a corporate function. Since that day I have organised dozens of similar events including Christmas parties, AGM’s and conferences and the rules hold fast for all of them. Allow me to share with you a few of the valuable lessons I have learned.
Cater with Class
This may seem a little out of sequence, but I always speak to my caterer first.
This is usually Diamond Blue Caterers in Melbourne, as I know I can trust them to take care of everything in a professional, reliable manner, and who with food and beverage service are second to none. A good caterer can also be a wealth of information regarding the best venues for your type of function, and also things you may have not thought of like entertainment ideas. Give them approximate dates if you have them as high quality caterers and venues can book out quickly.
Don’t Budge on Budget
Once you have decided on your budget, work with your caterer to create a food and drink package that will suit the type of event, the venue and, most importantly, the guests. Options can include finger foods, sit down dinners, spit roast or a combination of these. Don’t forget that there may be many other hidden costs involved in setting up a function, just in case I have outlined a few of them below.
Planning and Preparation
Whether you are heading a function committee or going it alone, some preparation and decisions need to be made. These include:
- Selection of a caterer – see above
- Picking a date – It pays to check with key guests beforehand to make sure that they can attend on that date.
- Choosing a venue – remember to keep the requirements of your event in mind when doing this including audio visual needs and facilities.
- Organising invitations – if getting these printed, make plans with your printer to have the seating charts and table place names printed once the guest list is finalised.
Entertain with Style
A perfect way for making your event memorable is with suitable entertainment. I made a huge hit at one of my corporate functions by employing some opera singers who serenaded my guests whilst moving between the tables, and many people still comment on how delightful and refreshingly different the afternoon was.
Equipment – Prepare for any Contingency
Make sure you have all your technology needs well in hand if you are planning a seminar or similar event in combination with your catering. Nothing can spell disaster like malfunctioning audio visuals, computers or microphones. Set up any registration areas well ahead of time and don’t leave anything to chance. Have a tech expert on hand to rectify any glitches as they occur.
Like anything in life the key to success is to Prepare, Plan and Pick good People. Unlike catering for a private function, organising a corporate soiree can have negative implications for your career if you get it wrong – there is often someone waiting in the wings ready to undermine you or attempt to usurp your position. Get it right however, and you can make a lasting impression and have a positive impact on your career prospects. Good luck and happy hosting!