Who What When Where Why How

As an event planner, you can think of your responsibilities like those of a journalist assembling an article — in order to tell the right story to your audience and to make sure all their needs are being met, it will help to answer the traditional “Five Ws” about your event before moving forward with the planning.

But what are those five questions? They’re the building blocks of any story and, it turns out, any event.

Let’s take a closer look:

  • Why: This “W” represents the overarching goal of your event. Why are you hosting it in the first place? What are you hoping to accomplish? Setting these goals up front will help you ensure that each piece of your event is tailored towards the same end purpose. For example, an event with the expressed goal of attracting new customers will be run in a different manner than one with the goal of rewarding existing customers for their devotion.
  • Who: You’ll next want to ask yourself who your target audience is. Moreover: who are your dream attendees, the people you’d have sitting front row if time and circumstances permitted? Build your event with them in mind; the others will follow. This allows you to have marketing personas in mind while planning, which in turn will make the entire process feel more real and the outcome more carefully thought through.
  • What: Time for the question you may have wanted to start out with: the event’s topic. What will the event cover? What messaging are you hoping to convey to your audience? While it makes sense to have an idea in mind from the beginning, your established goals and target audience are really going to drive this answer. You may have the best idea in the world for a topic, but if it’s not of interest to the audience you want to assemble, it’s not worth your time or energy at this stage.
  • Where: Once you’ve established the basics of your event itself, it’s time to figure out the logistics of actually holding it. Where will the event be hosted? Will the venue be large enough to fit your desired audience…or small enough so extraneous space isn’t noticeable? Is the venue capable of meeting AV requirements (power, wifi for attendees or just presenters, microphones, etc) and do they have specific requirements when it comes to things like catering or parking? All of these details will inform whether your ‘desired’ venue is in fact the right location for the event you have in mind.
  • When: The timing of an event is often dictated by the choice of venue and its availability, which is why we suggest you resolve the latter issue first. But once that’s done, it’s time to decide when you want to host your event. Key considerations: are other major events happening in the same location at the same time (think traffic, travel, reduced audiences)? Does your planned date conflict with any major national or local holidays or observances? Answers to these questions will help you pick a non-conflicting time that will allow your event to shine.

So now we’ve covered the five Ws of event planning. The bonus sixth question you should ask yourself as you start to plan is “How?”. After all, this question will take the concrete facts about your event and help you spin them into a tangible, executable plan. How will you bring this event to life? What will it need to get set up? These are the practical considerations — the Whats, Whys and more won’t matter unless you can bring your plan to fruition and get actual attendees into seats.

Once you’ve answered these six questions, you’ll be well on your way to planning and executing a spectacular event. Good luck!