This post is a two-part series on holding successful events. It covers how to run and execute a successful event on the day. For the first part which is a guide on how to plan events in advance, visit ‘How To Plan A Successful Event‘. I highly recommend you read both for optimal success on your event planning journey.

How to run a successful event – Overview

You’ve thoroughly planned your event, carefully overseeing each detail in preparation for the big day. Now the day arrives and you want to pull off the event without a hitch. How do you run a successful event that leaves attendees glowing with positive feedback?

Planning has gotten you most of the way there but there’s still the matter of managing the event in person. There are five aspects of onsite event management that you need to oversee:

Event logistics and execution

Stakeholder management

Event safety

Guest experience

Post-event evaluation and feedback

Staying on top of these will ensure you hold an accomplished event with return value where attendees want to come back for more. Let’s examine each aspect in detail.

Event logistics and execution

In tandem with your planning leading up to the event, staying on top of logistics on the day is paramount to helping the event unfold smoothly.

It’s a good habit to make a checklist or project management flowchart of the event’s itinerary, resources and people required that you refer to pre-event. This can be as physical or digital as you want—a printout or interactive app are fine as long as you’re using something to keep on track of logistics.

It should come as no surprise that organisers should arrive at the venue well in advance of the actual start time in order to prepare.

You’ll want to set up event equipment and technology and make sure they’re in working order. You’ll also want to liaise with any event stakeholders and partners before attendees arrive (more on this below) so that everyone’s activities are aligned.

If you have a check-in process (for example a ticketed festival), make sure all parties involved in the process are trained on what to do well before the event starts.

Not all check-in and registration processes are made equal. Think about the best check-in procedure for the size and scope of your event. Wristbands and name badges are clear markers of legit attendance but they can grind queues to a halt with the time they take to dispense. Cash on hand payments can remove the need for ticketing administration (such as an informal paid meetup) but unless someone is at the door during the whole event, it’s likely that some attendees will slip in without paying. Find the balance between good onboarding speed and verification.

Despite the meticulous nature successful organisers tend to share, the greatest trait an event planner can have is adaptability. Events often have first-time attendees, first-time performers, first-time venue staff and so on all engaged in the same space at the same time. This means unexpected situations can occur and the best organisers have the pragmatism to deal with problems as they arise.

Some of the most common event day challenges include:

-> Last-minute changes and adjustments e.g. rescheduling the itinerary if a performer pulls out or arrives late

-> Equipment shortages or malfunctions e.g. needing a backup microphone in case one breaks

-> Handling disruptive behaviour from an attendee

-> Dealing with the impact of bad weather on proceedings (for outdoor events)

If you want to go the extra mile, brainstorm ways in which a problem could arise at your event should the chips fall the other way. This will give you a contingency plan so you can keep the event robust in the face of difficulty.

How To Run A Successful Event Logistics

Stakeholder management

As an organiser, you’re a de-facto leader of the stakeholders involved in the event. Even if some of the partners are experts in their field and managers in their own right, they’ll look to you for leadership, however lightly, on the day since you’re coordinating this setting.

Partners can range from anyone including venue staff, volunteers, influencers and sponsors, food and beverage caterers, and performers. In line with your event plan, make sure the partners are clear about the terms of agreement and arrive at the designated period.

If your partners are arriving during the event and not before such as performers scheduled later in the day, make sure they have an allocated time and area to prepare.

I recommend familiarising yourself with all partners involved from the outset. Introduce yourself personally to each individual and remember their names. It makes a big difference in relations, especially if you will use the venue again. With a series of networking events I ran, my co-organisers and I received free drinks due to building genuine rapport with all the venue staff.

A good approach is to treat your partners as friendly colleagues you see on a part-time or contractual basis. This will help you establish a positive but professional dynamic that’s at the heart of successful event teamwork.

If your event has vendors, they’ll require ample time for set-up and tear-down on the day. Ensure they have the resources needed (e.g. designated space, extension leads for connection, event branded labels) and that they’re compliant with event rules.

The best organisers don’t have a one and done approach to stakeholder management. They check on each of the partners at least once during the event and even throughout the period, time-permitting. In keeping with the ‘professional friend’ dynamic, let partners know that they can come to you or relevant assistants at any time during the event should they need info or help.

How To Run A Successful Event Stakeholders

Event safety

Safety and security are the least sexy aspects of event organisation making them easy to overlook. But if no consideration is given to them, you might run into some serious issues on the day.

Even if your event is non-ticketed and informal, have at least a foundational awareness of the safety protocol at your event. You don’t want to be that person who gets into legal trouble due to neglecting responsibilities that come with event organisation.

The larger the event, the more attention you’ll need to give to safety and security. Crowd control is virtually non-existent at a small indoor event but is vital at a big music festival.

Whether indoors or outdoors, have an awareness of the fire exits of your venue in the event of an emergency. Venue staff are trained in fire protocol but if they’re not in a particular room or you’re running the event alone, it’s up to you to guide everyone to a safe area.

Most venues will require a signed agreement with terms and conditions before they allow use of their space. The biggest way event organisers can be caught out is assuming that they aren’t culpable for the behaviour of attendees. For instance, many Ts & Cs stipulate that the event host (you) will cover responsibility of any damage or theft of the venue’s property including its replacement cost. All it takes is one drunken attendee to break a piece of equipment and you, not them, will have a hefty bill sent your way.

If you think your event is the kind that might attract some challenging behaviour, ‘prime’ attendees in advance by writing out rules and guidelines on your event page. Should you or co-organisers sense unruly behaviour from an attendee during the event, a two strike approach is usually reasonable. Inform them that their behaviour is disrupting the experience for other people and if they continue they will be removed from the event.

Lastly, do your best to ensure your event is accessible to people with disabilities and handicaps. Be considerate in selecting appropriate venues and communicate accessibility to attendees on your main page. I once attended an event run by someone else in a basement-level pub with no lift. Three others and I had to carry an attendee in a wheelchair down the stairs at the start and back up towards the end of the event. The attendee enjoyed his time at the event but needless to say, it was far from an ideal situation for him.

Consideration of safety and security at events need not be all-consuming—don’t become paranoid about things going wrong that you stop enjoying the event. But don’t be nonchalant (even at casual events) that you’ll regret it if something does.

How To Run A Successful Event Safety

Guest experience

Now we come to the juicy part of onsite event management—coordinating the guests’ experience.

When thinking about how to run a successful event, the most important thing is to take your attendees on an experiential journey in alignment with your core vision.

If you’ve followed the advice in planning a successful event, you’ll understand your target audience very well. You should know how to take them from where they are now to where they want to be from attending your event.

Don’t underestimate the basics of good event management. This includes providing exceptional customer service on the day, giving helpful information and ensuring guests are comfortable in your setting.

But to run an event with significance, we need to do more than the above to succeed.

How do we know if our events are successful? Fundamentally, it breaks down to something called remarkability.

Remarkability is achieved by knowing your attendees’ emotional states prior to the event starting (A) and meeting or exceeding their emotional aims by the end (B).

A simple heuristic for remarkability is whether people speak about your event positively after the day it took place. Unsurprisingly, if an event isn’t worth remarking about, it isn’t remarkable.

The best event hosts have an implicit understanding of human psychology to optimise attendees’ experiential journeys. Here are some techniques based on this understanding that will contribute to a remarkable guest experience.

Community building

Unless you’re holding a particular one-off event based on values other than networking or socialising (such as a single performance with no after event), you’ll want to approach all your events as if you’re building a community.

The benefit of assuming your event is a giant community is that by extension, you foster the conviviality that comes from being around likeminded others, thereby improving the vibe of the event. People don’t attend events for one-to-one access of a resource, that would be a private workshop or lesson. Instead, they attend because they want to connect with others who share the same interests.

If you can galvanise these connections, your events can be the hub of a new community. With a community comes repeat value—people who have a vested interest in coming back to your events again and again.

To encourage community formation, utilise network effects. Be the catalyst that introduces people to each other at events. You’ll annoy some people but the majority will appreciate it—many people want to bond with others but are scared to go first. The more interactions you create, the better chance you have of solidifying a community.

After your first few events, pay attention to those who show high engagement. The ones who turn up every time, demonstrate passion for the event themes and recognise others are the individuals who make up the core circles of communities. This is the most valuable demographic you have and you’d do well to nurture it.


New types of events always draw interest. Being novel is one of the quickest ways to stand out from the crowd and garner interest in your event.

It’s difficult to be original. Instead, novelty is usually built by borrowing the ideas of others and combining them in different ways.

An event that stood out in my mind was one I attended on a docked boat. It was clear that one of the event’s core values was networking and during the evening, the organisers began a planned game of ‘Human Bingo’. It was a game where people mingled until they found others who matched facts listed on a bingo-style sheet with prizes for the winner. This was a fantastic way of ‘forcing’ people to get to know each other and by the end, the event had fulfilled the values of entertainment and socialising as well as networking, leading to a remarkable evening.

The event wasn’t groundbreakingly original. But by combining different elements of interest into one evening (boat party, networking games, thematic prizes), the event succeeded in being novel.

Novel events are memorable because of how fresh their concept appears. Leverage the power of novelty and have people taking about your events for weeks to come.

Information-gap theory (Curiosity)

In psychology, the information-gap theory is the name given to the state of wanting to satiate your curiosity due to a gap in knowledge about an area you care about. In other words, igniting intrigue. This is how concepts such as clickbait or movie trailers work, they leave people wanting to find out more.

You can apply this in two ways for your events.

The first is beforehand on the event pages and promotions. Revealing just enough information to secure interest but not too much that a person feels little need to attend.

The second is during the event itself. You can mention at the start that there’ll be a special announcement or reveal later for those who stick around. Or you can keep the highlight of an event towards the end (see peak-end rule below).

However you use the information-gap theory, it’s crucial you deliver the grapes you’ve dangled above for so long. You’ve set the expectation up, now you must meet or exceed it. Failing to do so can backfire horribly, people will experience a greater letdown than if you hadn’t set up an information gap.

Find ways to harness the power of curiosity at your events.

Peak-end rule

There aren’t any true shortcuts in making events successful.

But if I had to give a quick secret in how to run a successful event, I’d recommend using the peak-end rule.

The peak-end rule is the psychological phenomenon of placing greater weight on two parts of an experience: the ‘peak’ moments and the ‘end’.

Human memory doesn’t process all moments equally, it prioritises moments of high impact. The peak and end moments of experiences tend to be represented more than other ones. A famous example is childbirth—the protracted pain of labour is offset by the special high that comes from delivering the baby.

We too can use the peak-end rule to hold events with remarkability.

Think about the order of events in the experiential journey your delivering to attendees and see which moments can be of distinction. Make sure these highlighted moments go down well.

A safe bet is to combine the peak and the end together to leave attendees with a sweet taste in their mouths post-event. In a nutshell, end on a positive note.

Ending on a positive note is a tried and trusted technique for aeons. It’s the reason bands play their biggest hits in the encore and why thank you speeches and toasts are often given at the end of meetups.

Think about ways of making the final part of your event impactful.

How To Run A Successful Event Guest Experience

Post-event evaluation and feedback

At the conclusion of your event, it’s tempting to believe the experience is over and you can pat you and your assistants on the back and call it a day.

But if you really want to create stratospheric events, it pays to evaluate your event and iterate for future ones.

As discussed, the best way to know whether your event had remarkability or not is from post-event feedback. This can be from comments on your event page, personal messages or even a survey. Feedback during an event is of course valuable too but if the proceedings haven’t concluded, you won’t necessarily get complete opinions on the experience.

Many event management platforms will allow you to reach out to attendees post-event and collect feedback via their interfaces. You can also send an email out to all parties requesting feedback and opinions.

Some organisers worry that feedback isn’t as objective as it could be since some attendees won’t like sharing their opinions with you directly. One way around this is to use an anonymous survey.

Sites such as SurveyMonkey offer you the ability to send anonymous surveys to mailing lists and even offer integration with certain marketing platforms and campaign managers. Along with open comment boxes, Likert scales are a useful tool for scoring people’s attitudes towards certain moments.

Of course, two of the biggest metrics to measure in evaluating an event’s success are attendance and revenue earned. You can use these to examine the ROI in running the event and adjust the resources you put into the organisation of the next event.

Feedback data isn’t meant to be sat on, it’s only worthwhile if you use it to improve. However direct or painful some feedback may be, see it as an opportunity for iteration and betterment.

When thinking about how to run future events in a similar vein, be careful in optimising your event for everyone over the core target demographic. You may ultimately alter the very nature of the event for future versions. For example, an entrepreneur meetup might try and broaden its events to a general audience who aren’t entrepreneurs but in doing so, dilute the value their events previously gave to actual entrepreneurs. Keep your core community in mind.

Last but by no means least, thank everyone who participated in your event from partners to attendees. Even if you thanked people personally during the day, send out a thank you message via your chosen interface. This shows people your appreciation and reminds them of the positive community vibe they can experience at future events.

How To Run A Successful Event Feedback


Knowing how to run a successful event is different from planning. There are five aspects of running an event in person that will lead to success if fulfilled. They are: event logistics and execution, stakeholder management, event safety, guest experience and post-event evaluation and feedback.

Event logistics and execution deals with the more ‘mechanical’ elements of an event such as adherence to the event schedule, space and equipment setup, and arrivals. Work with others and get this right to ensure the event has a nice flow to it.

Stakeholder management is how you liaise and coordinate with your event partners. Everyone helping to run the event whether a part-time volunteer or long-term performer should be aligned with your operational vision. Communicate clearly and treat your partners as professional friends to get the best out of them.

Don’t overlook event safety. It’s in you and your attendees’ best interests to make sure crises don’t occur. Have basic knowledge on safety protocol in mind at least and understand any venue’s terms surrounding this.

Optimising your guest experience is what will propel your event from good to great. Remember that your event is an experiential journey for your attendees. Use techniques based on human psychology to achieve where other events don’t.

Finally, take on board feedback and use it to improve for future events. Along with attendance and revenue data, hone in on details about attendees’ experiences. This will help you iterate as well as you can for next time.

Together with the information on planning, you now have all the concepts you need to succeed in event organisation and management.

Events are transformative for lifestyle design in so many ways. Organising events is just one part of leveraging them for your lifestyle outcomes but there are more. If you want to be on top of the best info related to events ranging from improving your social life and becoming a connector to knowing how to use them for dating, subscribe to Abroad Lifestyles for free.