Feb 23, 2018 by Rebecca Martin

The 3-Step Method to Planning Good Event Goals

Defining clear goals for an event can be a bit like warming up before a big run. You know it’s healthy, but you’re probably tempted to skip it anyway.

When you start planning an event, especially on a tight deadline, you likely want to get directly into the venues, invitations, guest lists, and all the other big items fighting for attention.

That’s a surefire way to end up mired in details that aren’t making the best use of your time.

Defining goals helps you and your team always be moving toward a central objective. And even better, well-defined goals mean you can measure the results.

Here’s the streamlined way to set your goals.

Step 1: Define before refining

Start the process by asking yourself a deceptively simple question:

If this event didn’t happen, why would it be an issue?

Then ask why. Maybe it’s an annual gala, so you think if it didn’t happen, sponsors would be upset, and supporters would be disappointed. But really, the sponsors are probably upset because they’re losing valuable airtime and brand recognition, and supporters are disappointed because they feel excluded and are losing interest in your work.

If this event didn’t happen, why would it be an issue?

When beginning the brainstorming and collaboration process with your team members, establish an environment where team members feel confident contributing unique and sometimes conflicting ideas. Healthy challenges from within can help refine your event’s purpose.

In a professional world where having everyone in a central office five days a week is increasingly uncommon, getting everyone together for a brainstorming workshop might sound like a nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. Effective collaboration is possible even when working with remote teams.

Step 2: Measure SMART, not hard

You’ve collaborated with your team and are feeling confident about the event’s key purpose. Now it’s time to translate that into goals and make them SMART.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

By framing your purpose SMARTly, you begin creating smaller, more manageable tasks for your team. Furthermore, any uncertainties regarding your purpose will be clarified here.

If the purpose can’t be broken down into SMART goals it’s probably not clearly defined in the first place.

Taking the time to think SMART before getting into the tasks themselves will allow you to maximize your team’s workflow.

Step 3: Work around strengths, not weaknesses

We all have a few areas where we shine and others that we’d like to avoid entirely.

When deciding who’s responsible for what, have everyone (including yourself!) honestly consider their personal strengths and areas of confidence for the event.

While these strong points may be related to technical expertise, also consider the less tangible elements that can contribute to the overall success, like outside knowledge and passions. Is the feature of your dinner a musical performance from a guest artist, and one of your teammates happens to be a musician? They might just have some unique insight on VIP relations with the artist.

Cultivate and encourage passion. It’s infectious.


Clear goals may seem optional, and it’s easier to rely on gut feelings and instincts. But as the standards of professional events rise, and expectations from leadership and guests grow in turn, you need all the reliable tools to produce and measure success you can use.

A clear sense of purpose sets the stage for effective, goal-centered planning. And that’s what helps produce a stand-out event.